Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ocean changes 'will cool Europe', etc

News excerpts, again all on global warming, with my comments bold and in square brackets. After my last two posts on this topic (here and here), I did not expect to post again on it for a while, but the news items on global warming just keep on coming!

As I have said in previous posts, my Amillennial interpretation of the Bible:

"As regards future eschatology, amillennialism affirms the following: 1. The `signs of the times' have both present and future relevance. Amillennialists believe that the return of Christ will be preceded by certain signs: for example, the preaching of the gospel to all the nations, the conversion of the fullness of Israel, the great apostasy, the great tribulation and the coming of the Antichrist. These signs, however, must not be thought of as referring exclusively to the time just preceding Christ's return. They have been present in some sense from the very beginning of the Christian era and are present now. This means that we must always be ready for the Lord's return and that we may never in our thoughts push the return of Christ off into the far-distant future. Amillennialists also believe, however, that these `signs of the times' will have a climactic final fulfillment just before Christ returns. This fulfillment will not take the form of phenomena which are totally new but will rather be an intensification of signs which have been present all along." (Hoekema A.A., "Amillennialism: Part III - A Brief Sketch of Amillennial Eschatology," Grace Online Library)
is that we are in the period predicted by Jesus in Luke 21:24-28, between v.24b "Jerusalem" no longer "trampled on by the Gentiles", which happened in 1967:
"Political events too have been urged as the fulfillment of some of the prerequisites laid down by Scripture for the return of Christ. There are many prophecies about the return of the Jews to their homeland. Frequently, it was expected that these events would be inaugurated by the Messiah him self, but it was also held that they would precede his return. At just about the time we have proposed for the end of the Chalcedonian era in theology, the fifteen-hundredth jubilee of 1951, the Jews finally did return to political power in the Holy Land. The state of Israel was established in 1948. Even more recently, in 1967, the Jewish people gained full possession of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. One prophecy of Jesus, unrealized for 1897 years, seems to have been fulfilled: `Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled' (Luke 21:24). Between 1948, when Israel was established, and 1967, when Jerusalem was recaptured, the `times of the Gentiles' were brought to an end-at least for the present-in the Holy Land. ... Does the reconquest of Jerusalem by the new state of Israel have immediate bearing on the end of the present age? Is it a sign of the imminent return of Christ? Christians have been warned by Jesus himself to be cautious about trying to discover the time of his return, yet he also advised them to `watch.' It is in the light of this admonition that we must consider the apparent collapse of Chalcedonian theology. Is this also a sign? Can it be the beginning of the `falling away' foretold by Paul? ... The geographical city of Jerusalem had already endured many shocks before the Six-Day War transferred it into Jewish hands once again in 1967. ... When the calendar stood at one thousand years since the birth of Christ, hundreds of thousands of Christians took it for a sign of the end, but it was not. Neither were the calendar dates 1200 and 1260. But Jerusalem is more important in the timetable of history than calendar dates. And so is Chalcedon." (Brown H.O.J., "Epilogue: Signs of His Coming?" In "Heresies: The Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy from the Apostles to the Present," Doubleday & Co: New York, 1984, pp.448-450. My emphasis)
and v.27 "At that time they will see the Son of Man [Jesus] coming in a cloud with power and great glory." That will be an intervening period characterized by "signs in the sun, moon and stars" with "nations ... in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea" (v.25); when "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken" (v.26). That increasingly sounds like today's daily newspapers! It is against that background (and the three ecology units I did in 2002-2004 as part of my biology degree) that I regard global warming as real and expect it to get far worse than is generally thought.

Ocean changes 'will cool Europe', BBC, 30 November 2005, Richard Black ... Changes to ocean currents in the Atlantic may cool European weather within a few decades, scientists say. Researchers from the UK's National Oceanography Centre say currents derived from the Gulf Stream are weakening, bringing less heat north. Their conclusions, reported in the scientific journal Nature, are based on 50 years of Atlantic observations. They say that European political leaders need to plan for a future which may be cooler rather than warmer. The findings come from a British research project called Rapid, which aims to gather evidence relating to potentially fast climatic change in Europe. ... The key is the Gulf Stream. After it emerges from the Caribbean, it splits in two, with one part heading north-east to Europe and the other circulating back through the tropical Atlantic. As the north-eastern branch flows, it gives off heat to the atmosphere, which in turn warms European land. "It's like a radiator giving its heat to the atmosphere," said Harry Bryden .... "The heat it gives off is roughly equivalent to the output of a million power stations,".... By the time it reaches the northern latitudes around Greenland and Iceland, the water has cooled so much that it sinks towards the ocean floor, a process known as "overturning". This cooler water heads south, forming the return stream of a conveyor belt. The complete cycle sees warm water coming northwards on the ocean's surface, and the cold water returning hundreds or thousands of metres underwater. .... The NOC researchers concentrated on the colder water flowing south; and they found that over the last half century, these currents have changed markedly. "We saw a 30% decline in the southwards flow of deep cold water," ... What happens is that as Arctic ice melts and Arctic rivers flow faster - trends which have both been documented - the northern oceans become less saline. Less salinity means a lower density; the waters then cannot sink, so the conveyor weakens. Computer models have predicted that if it turned off completely, Europe would cool by perhaps four to six degrees Celsius. ... [A "four to six degrees Celsius" drop in average temperatures in Europe could be catastrophic. The last time it happened ~11,000 years ago, Europe had a ~1,000 year mini ice-age, which affected not just Europe but the entire Northern Hemisphere (if not the whole world). Indeed, without the Atlantic Conveyor, European civilization may not have arisen!]

Europe's warming current has slowed: oceanographers, CBC, 30 Nov 2005 ... The ocean currents that keep northern Europe warm have weakened, scientists say. A system of currents called the Atlantic Conveyor carries warm upper water north from the Gulf Stream, while cold water is pushed to the bottom and travels south. Scientists have theorized that the Atlantic Conveyor could slow if warming causes ice caps to melt, making the water less salty, less dense and unable to sink and flow back south. Researchers in Britain found the conveyor has slowed about 30 per cent since 1957. "What we find is that more of the Gulf Stream is recirculating southward and less is going into far northern latitudes," said Harry Bryden ... [As the Arctic and Greenland ice melts under global warming, so will the Gulf Stream slow and even cease, as happened when Lake Agassiz melted ~11,000 years ago. Presumably it all depends how rapidly the melting occurs? If "the conveyor has slowed about 30 per cent since 1957" and indeed "over the past 12 years" (see below) then that would seem to indicate that it is indeed happening rapidly? ]

Study: Current that warms Europe weakening Change could cause dramatic temperature drop, CNN, David Williams, December 1, 2005 ... Bryden said that change in Europe's climate could be substantial but would not be the sudden shift depicted in last year's blockbuster disaster film "The Day After Tomorrow." "I mean the dramatic, rapid climate that occurred over maybe 10 days is not realistic at all," he said. "Whether that time scale of climate change could occur over 20 years is, I think, not outrageous. But it is not going to happen catastrophically within a week.".... If the Atlantic conveyor belt were to break down, many scientists say it could trigger an ice age in which northern Europe comes to resemble Siberia. The data in this study suggest the conveyor belt is not breaking, but it is slowing down. ... [Of course "slowing down" may precede "breaking ... down." Even if it is "not ... the sudden shift depicted in ... "The Day After Tomorrow" (which I have not seen) nevertheless, if "northern Europe comes to resemble Siberia" then that will be bad enough!]

Global Warming Trends Are a Current Affair, Study Finds, Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2005, Usha Lee McFarling, ... The powerful ocean currents that transport heat around the globe and keep northern Europe's weather relatively mild appear to be weakening - a likely and problematic consequence of global warming - a new study by British scientists has concluded. The currents, like mighty rivers flowing at different depths of the ocean, act as radiator pipes to carry warmth from the tropics to northern latitudes. The best known is the Gulf Stream, which carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to the coasts of Britain and France. .... the currents warm the climate of much of Europe by several degrees. .... "The result is alarming," Detlef Quadfasel ... wrote .... The findings provide "worrying support for computer models" predicting that global warming could disrupt the way the planet regulates heat, he said. Computer models have long predicted that warming of the oceans and "freshening" of the seas with water from melting glaciers and increased precipitation - all linked to warming of the Earth by greenhouse gases - could slow down the currents. But scientists did not expect to see such changes so soon. Scientists differ on the potential effect. Some say weaker currents would cool Europe by several degrees, causing problems for agriculture and ecosystems and ushering in far more severe winters. Others say the cooling would probably balance out the effect of global warming in Europe, which is expected to raise temperatures globally by several degrees over the next century. "My personal guess is there would be no overall cooling, just a slowdown of the warming," Quadfasel said ... [The "cooling" no doubt will to some extent "balance out the effect of global warming in Europe", but note also that "The result is alarming" and "scientists did not expect to see such changes so soon."]

Scientists: Key Atlantic current slowing: Long-forecast result of warming may portend chill for Northern Europe. MSNBC, Nov. 30, 2005 ... LONDON - The Atlantic Conveyor, a life-giving ocean current that keeps Northern Europe warm, is slowing down, scientists said Wednesday. If the 30 percent slowdown seen over the past 12 years is not just a blip, temperatures in Northern Europe could drop significantly, despite global warming, they added. Scientists have long forecast that the Atlantic Conveyor that carries warm surface water north and cold deep water back to the equator could break down because of global warming. According to the theory, rising air temperatures cause ice caps to melt, making the water less salty and therefore less dense so it can’t sink and flow back south. ... The scientists on Wednesday said this was the first time that observations had put flesh on the bones of the theory. "This is the first time we have observed a change in the current on a human time scale," oceanographer Harry Bryden said, noting that the current had completely shut down during the ice ages. ... [See also Washington Post. Note this "30 percent slowdown seen over the past 12 years" and "This is the first time we have observed a change in the current on a human time scale" indicates a rapid slowing down of the Atlantic Conveyor, which presumably could even indicate a coming breakdown of it?]

Most Destructive Hurricane Season on Record: Season Brought Most Named Storms, Major Hurricanes, ABC News, Nov. 29, 2005 - At the beginning of summer, as forecasters began to notice there had already been a lot of hurricanes, they predicted this would be a rough year. They had no idea how right they would be. This morning, Tropical Storm Epsilon took shape in the Atlantic Ocean -- the 26th storm this year strong enough to have a name. .... "I would like to be able to stand up here and tell you that next year will not be any more severe than this year but I can't do that," said Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ...

Record storm season a taste of the future, The Australian, December 01, 2005 ... MIAMI: The busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record ends today, but as thousands of people in New Orleans and elsewhere still struggle to rebuild their lives, experts warn next year could be just as bad. And with more hurricanes likely to hit increasingly populated coastal areas in coming years, their deadly impact could increase. ... [While no one can predict whether "next year could be just as bad" (or worse), this sudden jump in one year into hurricane names starting with letters of the Greek alphabet, is evidence for a rapid global climate change.]

Rate of oceans' rise doubles over 150 years, The Australian, November 26, 2005 LONDON: Ocean levels are rising twice as fast as they were 150 years ago, providing further evidence of man-made global warming. A study has shown that world sea levels are rising at a rate of 2mm per year; double the speed at which levels rose for 5000 years before the start of the industrial age. ... Kenneth Miller ... and his colleagues produced a new sea level record that spans 100 million years. They took five 500m-deep core samples from sediments along New Jersey's coastline. ... These measurements were correlated with others from around the world, enabling sea levels to be calculated. ... the findings [were], published in the journal Science. ... "Our record therefore provides a new and reliable baseline to use in addressing global warming. "Without reliable information on how sea levels had changed before we had our new measures, we couldn't be sure the current rate wasn't happening all along. Now, with solid historical data, we know it is definitely a recent phenomenon."... [With "a new and reliable baseline" to measure sea-levels, the rate of onset of global warming can now presumably be more accurately determined?]

Snows fail to fall in Arctic tundra, CNN Tuesday, November 22, 2005 ... HARSTAD, Norway (Reuters) -- Life is harsh on the freezing tundra of the Arctic Circle where Anna Prakhova lives. But it can be much harder when snows do not fall. In recent years, snows have failed to fall as normal across large parts of the barren land dotted with low birch and pines. "We are experiencing the reality of climate change," Prakhova, who leads a group representing indigenous people in Russia and the Nordic nations, said on a snow-free day in Harstad, a Norwegian Arctic port of about 15,000 people. Evidence that humans are pushing up global temperatures is growing ever stronger, ranging from a shrinking of ice in the Arctic to a warming of the Indian Ocean, many experts say. The scientific panel that advises the United Nations looks likely to issue sterner warnings in its next report in 2007 that emissions of heat-trapping gases from power plants, factories and cars are disrupting the climate, they say. And mounting conviction among experts may add pressure on governments, who next meet for climate talks in Montreal, Canada, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9, to do more about a problem that could cost trillions of dollars to fix in coming decades.... [A warmer Arctic leading to less snow will mean less solar heat will be radiated back into space, but absorbed by the land and sea, which will in turn lead to even more warming and less snow, "in a vicious cycle of global warming." This would all be very depressing, except that I remember what Jesus said in v.28, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (my emphasis)! As one of my commentaries says, "Jesus commands His followers ... [that] when they see the beginning of these predicted things, to be inspired with courage and faith in the knowledge that His second advent, and with it their redemption, are at hand. ... the predicted events will be a sign to the faithful believers when His coming is at hand, so that they will not be taken unawares by that day":

"[Luke 21:25-28] In the previous portion Jesus foretold the dreadful fate awaiting the people of Jerusalem in the destruction of their city and temple. It will be so terrible (and actually was so) that the Saviour held it up as a clear foreshadowing of the Last Days and the Final judgment, as appears from Mark xiii, where the predictions concerning the fate of the city Jerusalem are constantly expanded into prophecies concerning the Last Days. In Luke's shorter report of the prophetic discourse the predictions are far more clearly marked off from each other. After referring in verse 24 to the period when the times of the nations will be fulfilled, i.e. to the end of the present age ... there is in verse 25 an immediate transition to the predictions concerning the Last Things before and at Jesus' second advent. 25, 26 While before the fall of Jerusalem there were only a few miraculous signs (cf. verse 11 ` in divers places `), before the end of the age all creation and the whole of the human world will be plunged into dreadful commotions-in the sun, the moon and the stars there will appear miraculous and alarming signs, the whole life of the nations on earth will be disrupted through the anxiety and terror that will overwhelm the people and render them desperate. 27 In the midst of these circumstances of utmost distress the Son of Man, the exalted Christ, will come in His divine power and majesty, and in such a manner that every eye will see Him. 28 While the onset of the great oppression of the Last Days; throwing the impenitent into terror and despair, will be the sign that the judgments of God are finally visiting the rejecters of His Son, it will be to believers the signal that their full redemption (in soul and body) is at hand. So Jesus commands His followers (He addresses the disciples as representing the faithful of all ages, including those of the Last Days), when they see the beginning of these predicted things, to be inspired with courage and faith in the knowledge that His second advent, and with it their redemption, are at hand. Although they do not know the precise day and hour of His coming, they will know that His coming is no longer far off. 29-31 Just as, when the trees in nature begin to bud, one knows that spring is near, so assuredly Christ's followers must know that when the prophesied events begin to occur His second advent and likewise the visible and full revelation of the sovereign dominion of God are close at hand. His coming will indeed be like a thief in the night (xii. 40) and no one will be able to determine beforehand when it will be, and unbelieving mankind will indeed be engaged in their ordinary secular activities in spite of all the portents of His coming (xvii. 26-30), but none the less the predicted events will be a sign to the faithful believers when His coming is at hand, so that they will not be taken unawares by that day (xxi. 34)." (Geldenhuys J.N., "Commentary on the Gospel of Luke," [1950], Marshall Morgan & Scott: London, 1961, reprint, pp.537-538).]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"Nor is any thing gained by running the difficulty further back, i.e. by supposing the watch before us to have been produced from another watch, that from a former, and so on indefinitely. Our going back ever so far brings us no nearer to the least degree of satisfaction upon the subject. Contrivance is still unaccounted for. We still want a contriver. A designing mind is neither supplied by this supposition, nor dispensed with. ... There is no difference in this respect (yet there may be a great difference in several respects) between a chain of a greater or less length, between one chain and another, between one that is finite and one that is indefinite. This very much resembles the case before us. The machine, which we are inspecting, demonstrates, by its construction, contrivance and design. Contrivance must have had a contriver; design, a designer; whether the machine immediately proceeded from another machine, or not. That circumstance alters not the case. That other machine may, in like manner, have proceeded from a former machine: nor does that alter the case: contrivance must have had a contriver. That former one from one preceding it: no alteration still: a contriver is still necessary. No tendency is perceived, no approach towards a diminution of this necessity. It is the same with any and every succession of these machines; a succession of ten, of a hundred, of a thousand; with one series as with another; a series which is finite, as with a series which is infinite. In whatever other respects they may differ, in this they do not. In all equally, contrivance and design are unaccounted for." (Paley W., "Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature," [1802], St. Thomas Press: Houston TX, 1972, reprint, pp.9-11)

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