Fire And Ice

What interesting times we live in.  What prophetic times we live in.

I don’t want to give the impression that this blog is all about watching the crashing Arctic ice extent and the effect it has on accelerating the decline of other earth systems.  Its not.  And yet, I find that I am again writing on Arctic ice, though with a good reason. The reason is that Arctic ice is at an all-time record low for this time of year.  But here is the thing:  Record lows in Arctic ice were being offset by record highs in Antarctic ice until a few years ago.  Now,  we know that ice in the planets cryosphere (cold places) is at a record low for this time of year because both the Arctic and Antarctic ice extents (area covered) are at record lows simultaneously.  At the same time, the volume of ice in the Arctic is at a record low also, so  we know it is not a case of  there being less area covered but with thicker ice underneath.  Below are the extent (area covered by ice) graphs for both the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as the ice volume for the Arctic.

The reason ice is important is because it drives the climate for the rest of the earth – literally.  It is the temperature differential between the pole and the equator that creates the “engine” that drives the jet stream, and it is the jet stream that determines where weather patterns go (storms, heatwaves, etc.) and how fast they go.  A strong, fast jet stream streaks across the mid-latitudes with some deviations – waves – to the north and south.  A weakened jet stream, such as we have been seeing more and more often lately, stops and starts and has great big curves and loops in it.  Instead of driving a storm system across the Pacific from Japan to, say, Oregon, the weakened Jet stream might drive that storm all the way down to Costa Rica and then from there to very close to the North Pole.  Such a meander (which we are seeing frequently now) would shift heat from the tropics to the Arctic, which would in turn melt more ice.  Just as importantly, the areas surrounding the loops in the jet stream would find themselves caught in lingering high-pressure systems that would result in heat waves and periods of no rain.  What is happening is that our fundamental weather patterns are changing so that we get too little rain for too long  or too much rain for too long or too much heat for too long or too much cold for too long.  All of this is extremely disruptive to human society because, across the globe, we have established our cities, roads, rails, energy infrastructure and agriculture on the assumption that the conditions that made the choice of locations ideal would endure.  That is now an invalid assumption.   Bottom line, the amount of ice at the poles directly affects the long-term viability of human society as we have currently structured it.

sea-ice-extent-n-hemisphere-oct-2016

sea-ice-extent-s-hemisphere-oct-2016

sea-ice-volume-graph-oct-2016

So that is ice.  Now lets look at fire.  And by “fire” I mean the heat that is forcing the melt of polar ice.  There is an interesting study newly out in the journal Science Advances that looks at the behavior of green-houses gases in the environment.  It concludes that the heating of the earth is likely happening much, much faster than previously thought.  this really isn’t a surprise, since practically every study for the last decade has found that things are accelerating faster “than previously thought”.  An article about the study can be found in the Independent.  The article says that up to 5C (9F) warming above current temps can be expected over the next 80 years.  This study will probably drive a revision in ice-melt models, which are currently forecasting a 1-meter (39 inches) rise in sea-levels over the next 80 years.  That is sufficient sea-level rise to displace hundreds of millions of people around the world and render uninhabitable a significant number of cities.

The problem here is that this study is not the last word.  It is simply another study in a long series of studies that conclude the earth is unraveling faster and faster.  And of course, human society is now being impacted more and more.  How will this end?  It won’t.  “Unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”  Matthew 24:22.

So there you have it:  We are living in the Matthew 24 era of the earth’s history, and events only accelerate from here.

–Scott Christiansen