What edible grains will cold weather support?

How do you ensure the survival of cattle on the range, amidst deep snow drifts? If these problems are not met, how many people, will starve to death as the climate becomes colder?

These common sense questions are not usually taken up in the discussions of alleged global warming-climate change, by the little guru-groupies who are presented to the public as "Knowledgeable Climate Experts," but Washington State geologist Jack Sauers has not only investigated these questions, he is actively working with grain researchers and government officials to supply new, cold-resistant rye grain, as one means to help produce food as the world moves into a new ice age.

The beauty of Sauers's approach revolves around looking for the why of observed physical phenomena, thus allowing him to unify in the mind, the increase in ice mass of glaciers at both poles, the southward descent of boreal vegetation and animals, and the apparently unconnected phenomena of increased volcanic eruptions and El Nino events, as parts of a single astronomical-geologic process.

Sauers authored a Research Communication on the coming ice age in the Winter 1997-98 issue of 21st Century Science & Technology magazine. I spoke to him recently, and asked him to elaborate on his research.

Q: What evidence do you have of the Earth entering a new ice age?

A: I have indeed been working on more information, and I have more hard temperature data coming from many places in the world [and] the activity of glaciers that are growing in many different places, such as Greenland, Norway, and Sweden.

The Bering Glacier, the largest maritime glacier in Alaska, has advanced even more than I documented previously. It has gone down the valley 9 kilometers in the last 17 months, putting icebergs down the river that goes into Prince William Sound. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has had to keep their eye on that because of all the oil tankers that come down there. The last data I have are for 1995. This is a rapidly growing glacier that covers 1,000 square miles and accumulates a lot, and now it is funnelling this accumulation down towards the ocean.

There are now USGS professional papers, which are satellite atlases of the principal glacial areas of the world.

Q: Are they on the web somewhere?

A: The world glacier monitoring service is on the web. I have some copies of graphs from this coming to me, of many different glaciers which are surging, in many places in the world. But a lot of data about different glaciers are not on the web. Dr. Anker Wedek of the Geological Service of Denmark and Greenland, working with the USGS, has put together an atlas on Greenland, of which I just received a copy. It was done in 1995, and it reports on the large number of glaciers which are surging and increasing in volume in Greenland. The same thing is happening in Antarctica, with an even bigger glacier...

Q: Is that the one that is adding 200 gigatons of ice per year?

A: Yes, that was the estimate, done separately by different people. Professor Bentley, who did that work in Antarctica, was the principal author. His summary appeared in a 1993 issue of [the American Geophysical Union's magazine] Eos, along with some other rather complete papers.

They said that that glacier in Antarctica is indeed increasing at 200 gigatons a year. It is also increasing in elevation at about 4 feet a year.
This was measured by looking at some big ITT transmission towers, which are now way down in a hole (!). And, as the glacier adds about 4 feet of ice per year it doesn't stand still-it starts moving out. Therefore, although it's adding 4 feet a year of ice, it's only increasing in elevation at about, actually, two-tenths of a meter a year, because of the mass outflowage.

Q: What are some of the other indications of a looming ice age?

A: In a recent 21st Century article, I noted that the Quasi-Biennial Polar Oscillation Cycle had expanded to the East Coast of the United States, which would mean big storms of an expanding polar-vortex down the Eastern Seaboard. It happened! People in Maine and southern Ontario now think that they are in a little ice age, literally.

Temperatures are dropping. We are now back down to temperatures of below those of the 1890s, according to the National Weather Service....

I took the data from the Weather Service here in Seattle, and you can see that temperatures here have fallen since 1940.

Q: Well, what are the consequences if the temperature is falling?

A: There are many plants and animals that will no longer be able to survive in the northern most areas. There was a paper published in Nature in 1993, which analyzed the pollen in southern Ontario, south of Lake Nipigon, in the last 650 years. The forest there used to be a temperate forest, beech and maples. The maples died out and gave way to oaks, then the oaks died out, and gave way to white pines. Now the white pines are disappearing and being displaced southward, and all that's coming back is boreal forest, not a temperate forest. The boreal forest is of birches and aspen. Those are characteristic of what grows way up north in Scandinavia.

So, in the last 650 years, southern Ontario has gone into the boreal plant zone. For them, the Holocene [the most recent geological epoch] is over! They can probably expect some global warming in about 100,000 years, after the ice melts that's going to cover Canada. This is the meaning of this good pollinology study.

Now, such a change happened before, in southeastern France, in the last interglacial period, the Eemian, 115,000 years ago. This was also published in Nature, by Voillard. They had a temperate forest of hardwoods. Then, in the space of about 20 years-that's a pretty short time-frame-a rapid cooling took place that killed off the temperate forests. All the hardwoods died, and all that was left was boreal forest, the pine, birch, and spruce.

The boreal plant zone, which is today about at the level of Helsinki, Finland, was displaced southward to the Vosges Mountains, in France, From 60 degrees north latitude, to 47 degrees north latitude, This happened in 20 years! Now, that would be like taking the current boreal plant zone on the north side of Lake Superior, and displacing it south to Georgia, in 20 years.

That's going to happen. It'll be just like the area moved to Scandinavia.

From the Jan. 26, 1998 issue of The New Federalist newspaper