back to article Swedish boffins: An Ice Age is coming, only CO2 can save us

A group of Swedish scientists at the University of Gothenburg have published a paper in which they argue that spreading peatlands are inexorably driving planet Earth into its next ice age, and the only thing holding back catastrophe is humanity's hotly debated atmospheric carbon emissions. "We are probably entering a new ice …

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  1. ByeLaw101
    Paris Hilton

    Ice age?

    I thought we were already in an ice age? Hence the polar caps?

    1. ed2020
      Thumb Up

      Re: Ice age?

      Beat me to it - I thought the same.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ice age?

        I thought caps were on the top - hence only one is a cap (either depending on which way up you hold the Earth). The other is then surely more like a polar panty liner.

        1. ed2020
          Thumb Down

          Re: Ice age?

          There is no up or down in space. The Earth has no top.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Ice age?

            Actually, it's pretty safe to say it does. The Milky Way has a distinct planar orientation to it (the starts within are not distributed in a globular pattern but spiral out pretty flatly). There's also the idea of orienting worlds on their orbital or rotational axes. Earth's current coordinate system is oriented on rotational axis.

            1. LaeMing

              Re: Ice age?

              That simply means there is a vertical axis. Which end of that axis is 'up' or 'down' is merely convention.

              1. h4rm0ny

                Re: Ice age?

                "That simply means there is a vertical axis. Which end of that axis is 'up' or 'down' is merely convention."

                But either way, there is an up and a down whichever is which. So the original point is right. Or would if they hadn't misunderstood "cap" to mean a type of head-clothing, rather than in the sense of things that "cap" the ends of something.

              2. john 112

                Re: Ice age?

                RHD Rule:

                Wrap your hand around the earth . (figuratively speaking). Fingers with the direction or rotation. Up is with your thumb.

                I got so confused trying to do this I think East is toward my adams apple.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: Ice age?

                  So what if you hold it upside-down? From the perspective of someone outside the Sol system, their perspective may be different from ours (IOW, we may see it as the underside of the Milky Way, they'll see it as the top side).

                2. Gobhicks

                  Re: Ice age?

                  Which hand?

            2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

              Re: Ice age?

              Actually, it's pretty safe to say [Earth] does [have a top]

              I'm looking forward to us contacting extraterrestrial life so that we can decide which side of the "topist" and "bottomist" divide we lie on. Or to put it another way, whether we root more for turnwise or widdershins.

              I've only one niggling doubt: wasn't this already played out in Gulliver's Travels?

          2. Dropper
            Pint

            Re: Ice age?

            If the Earth has no top how do you explain Australia being on the bottom of the planet? Hah.. thought so, no answer to that smartypants. And for the pedantics that insist on proof that Australia is indeed at the bottom of the planet, first of all England is at the top, so that alone should be sufficient proof, but when you take into consideration they have summer at Christmas - clearly wrong and completely against nature - then the evidence is there for all to see.. unless they're some blinkered, head-in-the-sand-at-Christmas Australian standing upside down on the bottom of the world.

            1. bugalugs

              Re: Ice age?

              WHAT is your favourite colour ? horn-gloat rag-strewn...

              (Holy Grail etc )

  2. Derk

    Follow the money

    No matter what happens, the politicians will seize it and tax. We get an ice age..look it's climate change, hot and dry, oh look its climate change....I'm reminded of fleas on an elephants back thinking that they can predict where it will go, and perhaps, just perhaps they can get it to change course.

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Follow the money

      Never mind the money, it might be too late to wake up early, but me will continue to try to understand, anyway.

    2. asdf Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Follow the money

      Yep and only the politicians and scientists are interested in money and some in private industry has nothing to gain by continuing with the status quo.

  3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Boffin

    Authoritative is as authoritative does....

    "..it's true that 'Mires and Peat' isn't exactly Nature or Cell..."

    Umm. I am aware that it hasn't got the same global presence or (probably) highly inflated opinion of itself as those two establishment publications.

    But, without having done a lot of research, I suspect from the name that it is pretty hot on the chemistry and ecology of mires and peat bogs. In fact, I would not be surprised to find that it was the world's authoritative publication on those subjects......

    1. Andy Gates
      FAIL

      Re: Authoritative is as authoritative does....

      I'm sure it's absolutely boffo on the subjects of mires and peat. Global climate? Less so. Doesn't even fit the interglacial timings.

      No surprise to see it waved around on El Reg, mind.

      1. toughluck

        @Andy Gates

        Why would it matter whether they are experts on global climate? The only conclusion of the research is the unprecedented scale of carbon sequestration in peat, and the enormous rate of growth of mires and bogs. The additional conclusion that the amount of carbon sequestrated might be high enough to offset human industrial CO2 emissions is added almost as an afterthought.

        By the way, annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions are within the margin of error of estimates on amount of CO2 emissions from a medium-sized volcano eruption. How could human-made CO2 be responsible for anything? That's the thing that I've never seen climate scientists refute. It's like they're trying to explain how we can heat an ocean using a candle.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Authoritative is as authoritative does....

      "Mires and Peat" . Nah, not a patch on Bogs and Sod.

  4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    FAIL

    If the science holds up...

    .... we should get a new directive from our Dear Leaders.

    Instead of banning the use of Peat in horticulture, we should encourage it. Possibly providing grants for pensioners to dig it into their gardens? And certainly expanding its use in power stations....

    Isn't climate science wonderful? Especially allied with a command economy run by moronic politicians with no technical knowledge whatsoever...

    1. James Micallef Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: If the science holds up...

      " expanding its use in power stations"

      if I understood this correctly, we want to leave the peat bogs alone so they can capture the CO2 from the fuel we are burning and so balance teh temperatures out, NOT burn more peat!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If the science holds up...

        I think you missed the point. I read it as we're heading into an ice age and unless you burn all of the peat, it'll happen more quickly (as it were).

        Am I wrong?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: If the science holds up...

          @theodore, no YOU missed the point. If we don't stop the cause of the next ice age, how are the politicians going to justify all the anti-CO2 taxes?

    2. g e
      Holmes

      They may have no technical knowledge

      But there's still room in their wallets and time for skiing trips or Mohitos in Tuscany

  5. Tim #3

    Also...

    On the subject of climate, is there any follow up or outcome on this story yet?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/29/boaden_tribunal_information_refusal/

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge
  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mires and Peat

    I must be hungry. I initially read that as "Pies and Meat" mmmmmnn - ice-age mammoth pies,

  7. FartingHippo
    Black Helicopters

    Without getting into the debate about whether warming is super-damaging or not-a-big-deal, I thought this rather elegantly shows the "last 10/12/16 years have not shown any warming so AGW is a crock" statement to be a load of denialist bollocks.

    Funky gif this way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good Point

      ...but have you seen the same GIF for the last 1000 years?

      1. Lord Voldemortgage

        "have you seen the same GIF for the last 1000 years?"

        What would it show and what would that mean?

        (Just trying to keep up).

    2. Linbox
      FAIL

      Graph proves article accuracy

      Unless I misread your graph, it appears to show that temperature over the last 15 years to have been flat or declining - exactly as the article stated. It does also show that over 40 years, it has increased by 0.5 degrees. The two facts are not mutually exclusive.

      1. jsam

        Re: Graph proves article accuracy

        Temperatures have been flat or declining only if you treat the Daily Mail as science.

        1. Rune Moberg
          Stop

          Re: Graph proves article accuracy

          And the medieval warming period was also caused by human activity...

          ...pull the other one, it has bells on.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Alan Bourke

    Hurrican Sandy caused by global warming?

    Nonsense. Everyone knows it was the homosexualists*

    *Note: This is a joke.

    1. ItsNotMe
      Pint

      Re: Hurrican Sandy caused by global warming?

      Thought is was all them "Commie" satellites that did this?

      Beer Friday is upon us. Cheers everyone!

    2. That Awful Puppy
      Trollface

      Re: Hurrican Sandy caused by global warming?

      You're wrong, of course. It was them chemtrails what did it.

    3. Joel 1
      Coat

      Re: Hurrican Sandy caused by global warming?

      Hurricanes are caused by warmth.

      This has been the most expensive US election ever.

      There has been blanket politicking throughout US.

      Politicians spout hot air.

      Hurricane Sandy hit at the peak of the electioneering.

      The election is over, and there is no hurricane.

      Q.E.D.

  10. NomNomNom

    "If Franzén and his team are right, the big chill is now under way, and is only just being held off by increasing human carbon emissions - perhaps explaining why temperatures have been merely flat for the last 15 years or so, rather than descending."

    Surely this is wrong. If Franzén and his team are right then we can expect the world to be still warming and can expect significantly more warming over the 21st century, just like all those climate scientists are saying. That's because Franzén and his team's work is saying CO2 is a strong driver of global temperature. They only predict cooling IF CO2 levels fall. But CO2 levels aren't falling and won't fall without emission cuts. CO2 levels are rising sharply due to human emissions of now over 30 billion tons of CO2 a year. In contrast Franzen and his team say the peatland sink *might* reach 3.7 Gt yr. So it isn't likely to even dent the increase in CO2.

    So there is simply no cooling or big chill predicted. Instead expect continued warming. Global temperatures over the last 15 years are consistent with this.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/11/short-term-trends-another-proxy-fight/

    1. Bent Outta Shape
      Boffin

      30 billion tons vs 3.7 giga tons?

      So if I read you correctly - and I have no figures here of my own you understand - human activity is emitting 30 billion tons of CO2 per yer, and the peatlands may extract up to *3700 billion* tons (3.7 giga tons) per year.

      And you think the peatland will barely dent the CO2 increase? If those numbers are correct, they'll annihilate it...

      1. plasmasheet

        Re: 30 billion tons vs 3.7 giga tons?

        Well it depends on what you mean by billion, but you have it backwards regardless. I'm assuming American usage, so billion = 10^9, which is also what Giga means (10^9) so 30 billion tons is about 8 times 3.7 Giga tons.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 30 billion tons vs 3.7 giga tons?

        Given human emissions are about 4% of total global emissions :s

        1. jsam

          Re: 30 billion tons vs 3.7 giga tons?

          An -additional- 4%. That's why it's forcing change.

        2. Andus McCoatover
          Pint

          Re: 30 billion tons vs 3.7 giga tons?

          Oops - just let a good one off!!...0.000000000001% added

          Oh, except it wasn't a dry one.

          OK, shower and washing machine tonight...0.00000001% then.

  11. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Well, if peat sequestrates CO2...

    Why the hell is a lot of my town heated by a peat-burning power station? I think they have similar in Sweden.

    I thought that burning released the CO2 from the peat??? Plus, the immense effort and 'global warming' of putting a new road from the northern peatlands to Oulu so the trucks (CO2 again...) can transport it...

    1. Alan Firminger

      The Irish have a way with peat

      They build a power station where the peat is, water is always there also. Then they strip the surrounding soil and leave the land barren.

      I think a power hungry world won't leave any beneficial peat, we'll burn it.

  12. pctechxp

    Good news for IT then

    As there won't need to be vast spaces taken up by cooling equipment.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I lump together

    ... climate scientists with dieticians, boy bands, and politicians as sources of credibility.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: I lump together

      Then you are a stupid person indeed.

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