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Man Made Ice Age

In the North Atlantic, one side has palm trees and people swimming year round but on the same exact latitude ice and compacted snow thickly blanket the ground. How can this be, that two places with that same latitude can have such a different climates? The Gulf Stream, the current that balances out the climate all over the northern hemisphere, possibly the most important current on this planet, makes living the way we live possible. Thing are changing and the world is warming and the Gulf Stream is slowing. What if this all was to change? If you woke up tomorrow and the Gulf Stream had stopped? We know the Gulf Stream is slowing, but the most the pressing question is, will the halting Gulf Stream take us in to the next Ice Age?
Lost beneath the oceans and glaciers sits proof of a different time, were the temperature would change so fast it would make you head spin. In sediment samples that Paleoclimatologists took they found stones that could only be moved by glaciers. They also took samples from very core of the earth in varying colors, demonstrating the temperature change of the ocean over time. Then there were the core ice samples that showed the temperature of the air millions of years ago. Through those two samples you can find that at the same time the air was freezing as the ocean and that when they were heating it was in unison. The facts are all there, and with those we can prepare for the future.
Historically there have always been temperatures that go up and down. When the water would suddenly heat, it wouldn’t change without reaction. When part of the world would rapidly and violently heat, it would be immediately followed by rapid freezing in northern Europe. Even though each rapid change would only last a few decades, it had a huge effect on the world and those living in it. Dr. Broker from Columbia University studies the warming and cooling trends of the world, and was the first person to figure out how it correlated to the Gulf Stream. But what is the Gulf Stream, and why do we care about it? The Gulf Stream is an endless circle that relies on each other piece otherwise it will break down and cause disaster through temperature change. The Gulf Stream is a warm salty current starts at the equator goes north towards Europe. Heading towards Mexico, it takes hot water with it as it speeds away to Europe. The warm water rushes past the European coast raising not only the temperature of the water but of the air as well, a crucial piece of the northern European environment. The hot salty water goes up to the North Pole, where it all but freezes and creates a sinking current. It stays cold going around America but eventually gets back to the tropics and starts over. But now we have realized that something is wrong, and has terrible unfathomable consequences, the Gulf Stream is slowing down.
This warming trend is real. Just this year ocean water is 0.7 degrees warmer and has less salt then years previously. This may seem small but in reality is a sign of terrible things yet to come. The salinity is lower due to the warming trend. The ice is melting. This reduction of ice kills exhausted animals that used to use them for resting places, and makes Greenland and Antarctica smaller. Every year it is taking longer for water to freeze and snow to fall. Every year ice and snow is melting sooner. Every year the sea levels are rising. This is not the first time a warming trend has caused changes in the Gulf Stream, and history has a tendency of repeating. Right now the planet is warming again, causing water to heat; the ice caps floating in the water are surrounded by warmer water and are starting to melt. When these glaciers melt the fresh run off water runs in to the ocean, diluting it. When water becomes less salty it becomes less dense. This is a problem because less dense water will not sink. We need water to sink to cause the crucial deep water currents in the Gulf Stream, when this doesn’t happen a backup of water in the Gulf Stream builds up. Much like a crowded highway, this water traffic slows the whole current down.
In the past, it has been the earth going through natural climate changes, but this warming trend one is not purely conventional. The human race has made much progress in the past century, but with great progress comes grave responsibility. Recently we have found that human race is killing the environment. In fact we are contributing 6 billion tons of greenhouse gasses, like carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere each year. In between our cars, industry based nations, deforestation, meat farms, and technology/oil reliant species we created Global Warming, Global Warming, also known as climate change, the cause of the melting icebergs.
If the Gulf Stream conveyor belt were to continue to slow or if it shut down it wouldn’t be pretty. There would be no warm weather in northern Europe, which will mean snowy winters and freezing ice year round, much like Siberia. In the south, it would not freeze over, but cause a buildup of hot water, creating a hot, rainy, hurricane and flood stricken society. Even if the original Gulf Stream was to shut down, an adapted one would form that would be much smaller. In Woods Hole Massachusetts, lives Terry Jones, an educated opinionated individual on the subject of the Gulf Stream. During the Bush administration he co-wrote a worst case scenario of the Gulf Stream completely stopping called, Imagining the Unthinkable. According to Imagine the Unthinkable, in 2010 the Gulf Stream will stop and there will be an ice age. There will be chaos, famine, and extreme weather. Mr. Jones believes the facts show the chances of the shutdown of the Gulf Stream in the next decade are a low 2%, but in the next hundred will rise to 50%. In addition to his other beliefs, he is convinced with the slowing down of the Gulf Stream and eventual shut down there will be an ice age. This is a terrifying theory that is rapidly becoming reality. Still we are left with one question, will there be another Ice Age? Science says it is likely, and for right now we can only hypothesize and wait.



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theStoddard said...
Jul. 17, 2011 at 11:38 am

Wow Summer this is very good work; I have only heard about this, but now I see what a big problem it really is!              -Tim (from HV '10)

P. S. Good job and keep writing!  :)

 
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