The movie 2012 is out. I hear the special effects are a blast. There are some pretty spectacular effects going on right now near between Java and Sumatra, where Krakatoa is still rising from the sea.
Krakatoa erupted in 1883, generating a monstrous tsunami over 100 feet high, and killing tens of thousands of people. Small people. When you were even smaller than you are now, your mom might have warned, “Remember, cars are bigger than you are.” Well, tsunamis are bigger than you are. Even if you have gotten big enough to drive a car. If you had been there you would have died, too. Tsunamis are big; you are small.
Krakatoa is big now. The last time it exploded, it blew off enough matter to take it from a height of over 2,200 feet above sea level to 820 feet below sea level. The name for the new volcano that began to rise out of the sea at that location in 1927 is Anak Krakatoa — that means “child of Krakatoa.” It still has a thousand feet to go to be as big as the 1883 Krakatoa, but it’s growing. You can see some amazing pictures of it here.
Still, even though Anak Krakatoa has a lot of growing to do to catch up to Krakatoa, it is bigger than you are. If it just goes off like a normal volcano, that’s one thing, but if a fissure opens to allow the ocean to flow into the magma, then, even at the size it is now, it will go boom and lots of small people will die. That won’t be the end of the world, even if it happens in 2012. It wasn’t the end of the world the last time it blew up. But it did affect the temperature of the earth for the following 5 years. It made it colder. So if Krakatoa blows again, we can expect that it will get colder for a few years, but since things have been getting a bit warmer over the past 30 years, we should be okay.
That’s right; the little bit of global warming that has gone on recently might just be the thing that saves us from devastating killer winters if Krakatoa goes boom. I know that it’s really not politically correct to find any upside to global warming, but it just occurred to me that it could work out that way. Or not. I’m too small to tell for sure.
Even our computers are too small to tell for sure. As this recent headline bears out: “Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out .” The article summary notes that “[g]lobal warming appears to have stalled. Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years. Some attribute the trend to a lack of sunspots, while others explain it through ocean currents.”
This I get. Oceans are big. The sun is way bigger. That the big oceans and the bigger sun have an effect on the climate seems, well, obvious to this small person. Ditto that it is all very complicated when you throw in currents and sun spots. No big surprise that making predictions about the whole thing would be difficult, that really a lot of it just comes down to guessing.
It takes a big man to admit that what we have in the arena of long term climate predictions is a lot of fancy guesswork, especially if that man is a scientist working on climate. As the article went on to explain:
[N]ot much is happening with global warming at the moment. The Earth’s average temperatures have stopped climbing since the beginning of the millennium, and it even looks as though global warming could come to a standstill this year.
The planet’s temperature curve rose sharply for almost 30 years, as global temperatures increased by an average of 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.25 degrees Fahrenheit) from the 1970s to the late 1990s. “At present, however, the warming is taking a break,” confirms meteorologist Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in the northern German city of Kiel. Latif, one of Germany’s best-known climatologists, says that the temperature curve has reached a plateau. “There can be no argument about that,” he says. “We have to face that fact.” …
“It cannot be denied that this is one of the hottest issues in the scientific community,” says Jochem Marotzke, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. “We don’t really know why this stagnation is taking place at this point.”
I like scientists who are willing to admit they don’t know why and face facts. Apparently not all scientists are that big though. Congress may soon be probing leaked documents fromthe Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England. The CRU’s work and mathematical models were major parts of the UN climate change report of 2007 that influenced the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusions on carbon dioxide emissions and regulation guidelines. The leaked information shows that some of the most prominent climate change scientists, among various misdemeanors, plotted how to keep dissenting researchers from getting published, deleted correspondence covered under freedom of information laws, and fudged data inconsistent with their predetermined conclusions. They didn’t intend for the correspondence to go public and now a big scandal has blown up on them. They probably would have preferred Krakatoa.