July 3, 2015 at 5:10 am

Cycles of Global Change

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As this article is going to press, yet another near miss of an asteroid has occurred accompanied by an apparent meteor strike. On Sunday, September 7, as asteroid 2014 RC was zooming by Earth at less than one tenth the distance to the Moon, what appears to be a meteorite struck the Earth blasting out a crater some 40 feet wide near Managua, Nicaragua. And, about the same time a brilliant meteor is witnessed by thousands of people as it descends over Barcelona Spain.

Now consider – Is it not strange that we have a striking parallel with the incident from February 15 of last year when, at the same time as the uncomfortably close passage of Asteroid 2012 DA14, a second object explodes over the Siberian town of Chelyabinsk causing 1200 injuries and damaging 1500 buildings? For years I have been arguing that cycles of global change are being driven by factors extraterrestrial. At any given time our civilization stands perilously close to extermination by causes, at present, outside of our control. This is the message and moral of the story of the human history on Planet Earth that is simultaneously emerging from a new understanding of the legacy of inherited wisdom of the past and from cutting edge scientific research. In spite of the fact that most of our political leaders, scientists and academics have so far failed to grasp the big picture and the true nature of the predicament in which we find ourselves, nonetheless the remedy is close at hand. We are not passive victims. The time has come for humankind to start thinking on a cosmic scale.

The Cosmos is trying to get our attention folks!

In spite of the fact that most of our political leaders, scientists and academics have so far failed to grasp the big picture and the true nature of the predicament in which we find ourselves, nonetheless the remedy is close at hand. We are not passive victims. The time has come for humankind to start thinking on a cosmic scale. The Cosmos is trying to get our attention folks!

If you have not been reading this series over the past year and a half now is the time to remedy that deficiency. I have dealt in depth with many issues related to the idea of cosmically induced change. You may access those articles and others at Sacred Geometry International. To have any kind of meaningful discussion on global change it is absolutely necessary that one becomes familiar with the actual record of significant variations in the environment of Earth over time. As I stated in last month’s article any scale at which we are capable of measuring, whether it is over a period of a few years, decades, centuries, millennia, or vast epochs of time, the planet upon which we live has undergone extraordinary change. This includes Earth’s environments and ecosystems, her biosphere, and her climate.

Please bear with me for a short foray into a bit of scientific background. Earth scientists refer to the geological period in which we live as the Quaternary. It is comprised of two epochs: the Pleistocene and the Holocene. The Quaternary Period is now dated as having its beginning about 2.6 million years ago. What differentiates this period from the one preceding it, the Tertiary, is the inauguration of a powerful cycle of alternating glacial and interglacial ages. It is also the period during which a variety of hominids made their appearance upon the Earth and that saw the rise of modern humans. The Pleistocene Epoch spans almost all of the Quaternary and the present epoch, the Holocene, comprises only about the last 10 thousand years.

ChronostratQuat09

The Quaternary Period is now dated as having its beginning about 26,000 years ago.


 

The most recent great Ice Age only came to an end between about 10 and 12 thousand years ago with the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene Epoch.
What distinguishes the Holocene from the Pleistocene is the interruption of thousands of years of bitter glacial cold by the advent of a benign and munificent warmth. Until the transition virtually all of Canada and the northern United States lay under a massive ice sheet that was as much as one to two miles thick. Where the cities of New York, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and Seattle now stand there were glaciers thousands of feet thick. Northwestern Europe likewise lay under many trillions of tons of glacial ice.

Extent of Northern hemisphere glaciation ~13,000 yrs BP.


 

Over an impossibly short time geologically speaking, literally only a few thousand years, that ice disappeared, somewhere around 6 million cubic miles of it. That is considerably more than the combined ice of Antarctica and Greenland today. As the result of all that melting ice sea levels rose dramatically. During the coldest depth of the Ice Age the level of the world’s oceans stood about 400 feet lower than now. Try to imagine what that implies in terms of the coastlines of the world. Since the continental shelves around the perimeter of Earth’s continents are mostly less than 400 feet in depth it is obvious that large swaths of the shelves would consist of a terrestrial land surface instead of the shallow marine environment of today. Google Earth clearly displays the continental shelves so if you have not already downloaded the free program I highly recommend it. If you simply scroll over the topography it will give you the elevation both above and below sea level. You can easily find the minus 400 foot elevation to get an idea of where the global coastlines were located during the ice age.

SeaLevel_LastIceAge

Global sea level ~13,000 yrs BP. Sea level was 400 feet lower world wide.

SeaLevel_Now

Global sea level now.

The climate and environment of the southeastern United States was more like that of southern Canada today. The vegetation was composed of northern forests, with spruce, alder and larch trees abundant. Great herds of mastodons browsed their way through these forests along with mammoths, giant ground sloths, 500 pound beavers and dozens of other now extinct mega-mammals. In regions just south of the ice sheet such as in southern Ohio and Kentucky, tundra dominated the ecosystem. All of planet Earth was a vastly different place 13 thousand years ago. As I have reiterated countless times, scientists still do not understand the cause of the extreme climate changes that accompanied Earth’s rapid transition out of the Ice Age.

Pleistocene_Megafauna

Pleistocene Megafauna.

Compared to the past quarter million years the 10 thousand years of the Holocene has had a relatively stable climate. However, even within the Holocene there have been enormous changes of climate that have exceeded anything experienced within the last two centuries. Palaeoclimatologists have now documented episodes of warming and cooling of up to 4 degrees centigrade (6.2 degrees F.) during the Holocene. The current estimate of global warming is approximately .6 to .8 degrees C (.36 degrees F.) during the past one century, well within the range of naturally variability. The last phase of major global cooling and ice sheet expansion has been called the Late Wisconsin in North America. This phase began about 26,000 years ago according to most studies and lasted about 13 thousand years. The initial temperature decline was abrupt and the greatest severity of glacial cold occurred from about 22 to about 15 thousand years ago. At 15 thousand years ago the planet began to undergo a gradual warming phase and the massive glaciers began to shrink back. However, this leisurely pace of warming was suddenly interrupted.

The transition out of the Ice Age involved a double whammy, two convulsions that knocked the planet out of the grip of glacial cold. The first one occurred about 13 thousand years ago and the second one about 11,600 years ago. In the earlier case at 13 thousand years there was a sudden spasm of extreme global warming, up to 10 degrees centigrade (18 degrees F.) in less than a decade, maybe in less than 5 years. This high influx of thermal energy provoked a rapid melting and break-up of the great ice masses. Huge armadas of ice bergs were disgorged into the North Atlantic. Enormous floods poured off the perimeter of the ice sheet. Sea level began to rise rapidly. However, the warmth didn’t last. Within a few years the entire planet lurched back into full glacial cold. The glaciers refroze and began to expand again. Once more the planet was in the grip of severe glacial cold.

The Younger Dryas

The transition out of the Ice Age involved a double whammy, two convulsions that knocked the planet out of the grip of glacial cold.

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This return to glacial cold lasted about 1400 years and is called the Younger Dryas, named after a polar wildflower that grew in northwestern Europe during the ice age but had disappeared during the period of initial warming. With the return of glacial cold the flower returned as well. At 11,600 years ago came the second jolt of warming. This episode was also associated with extreme melting and break-up of the ice sheets, massive flooding and rapid sea level rise. Immense sweeping changes engulfed the planet during the transition from one age to the next, vast areas of habitat were wiped out, whole ecosystems were overturned, lands that had been locked up for thousands of years were freed from their prison of glacial ice, other lands were drowned under the rising seas. Climates and environments around the world underwent extraordinary changes and geographic shifts. Over one hundred species of large mammals worldwide rapidly went extinct.

Ice age megafauna of Norther Spain.  - Mauricio Anton

Ice age megafauna of Norther Spain. – Mauricio Anton

Late_Pleistocene_Mortality

The second warming succeeded where the first one didn’t. While the initial burst of warmth at 13 thousand years was followed by a rapid swing back to glacial cold this time the cold didn’t take and the world began to undergo a swift temperature rise until by about 9 thousand years ago, when the Earth was actually several degrees warmer than now during a phase known as the Climatic Optimum. This phase lasted for at least 3 thousand years. The name Climatic Optimum was given to this period because the scientists studying it considered it a time of auspicious and favorable climate. In the aftermath of the great catastrophe that brought to a close the age of ice the Earth entered a warm cycle that saw the return of a lush and luxuriant environment, and a rapid proliferation of life. Whole new habitats were opened to colonization by surviving species, including humans. There was, for this period of 3+ thousand years no competition for territory, for land was abundant and people limited. The human population expanded rapidly in the nurturing environment. It was truly a time of fruitful multiplication of the species.

This was the time of the Garden and the Goddess.

Next month I will explore in greater depth this unique time in prehistory and place it in the context of the ancient models of global change involving the concept of the Great Year and the doctrine of cosmic cycles.

-RC

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  • anonymous

    Can i get a reference to the source of the Late Pleistocene Mortality graph?