• Hamid Rafizadeh

To live or to go extinct: Two alternatives for developing the glacial earth’s knowledgebase

Humans tend to ignore any extinction-level threat that is perceived to lie in the future. Common examples are global warming and nuclear arsenals. Another extinction-level threat, more severe than global warming and nuclear war, originates at the earth’s “glacial-interglacial cycle.”

It is not commonly known that earth comes in two versions, glacial and interglacial. The terminology correctly implies that the major version is the “glacial,” and the “interglacial,” the minor version, interleaves the glacial. We are currently at the back end of the interglacial earth. The glacial earth lasts about 85,000 years and the interglacial about 15,000 years, and together, they create the glacial-interglacial cycle that repeats every 100,000 years. At this time science has gathered the detailed records of the past eight glacial-interglacial cycles [1].

In today’s interglacial earth, global warming is deemed to be a serious problem to be addressed vigilantly. Yet that is not an instantaneous problem. One can argue that humankind has decades and perhaps even centuries to address it. But the glacial-interglacial transition threat is instantaneous. If not prepared, humankind would go extinct within a few weeks of the glacial earth’s arrival. That is the highest level of threat faced by humans, and at present it is not receiving any attention [2].

Today’s “science community,” well-versed in studying gaseous emissions and modeling the global warming scenarios, has followed the alternative that except for the ice sheet size and some differences in atmosphere-ocean interactions, the glacial earth is the same as the interglacial earth, and therefore, the current models of gaseous emissions and global warming can be applied the glacial earth. This has led to the conclusion that because of global warming happening in the interglacial earth, the onset of the glacial earth and the advance of the ice sheets will be delayed by tens of thousands of years [3-7]. Such reasoning invariably concludes that there is no current threat from the glacial-interglacial transition because it would only happen in far future.

Why should anyone be concerned with the alternative that sees the glacial earth as a variant of the interglacial earth, whose arrival would be delayed because of global warming? The concern originates at the fact that there have been others, specifically, ancient populations that have actually seen and experienced the glacial earth. They have directly observed the glacial earth’s features to point out that 1) the glacial earth is radically different from the interglacial earth, 2) because of how it forms, there would be no delay in its arrival, and 3) if not prepared to live in the glacial earth, humankind will go extinct. Thus the significance of the second alternative: to see the glacial earth as ancient populations have actually seen it.

How radically different is the glacial earth as seen by ancient populations? For one, the sunrise and sunset directions are reversed because a material shell surrounds earth, totally altering the pattern of insolation and the climate. If ancient populations had not provided vivid models of the structure and features of the glacial earth, this would be like a science fiction story in a distant galaxy. But it has happened on earth and will happen again and it begs for someone to tell the story and teach humankind to survive the transition.

For decades I have studied the ancient models of the glacial earth and have published two books about them, the science novel The Unexpected Unseen and the nonfiction science, The First Rung [8-9]. If actual models of the glacial earth exist, why does the science community not see the same to recognize the impending extinction-level threat of the glacial-interglacial cycle? The answer lies in a deep-rooted assumption. The science community has persistently assumed that those that actually observed and modeled the glacial earth tens of thousands of years ago, those that embedded their models in the societally-maintained and socially-propagated knowledgebase that today manifests as the “sacred texts,” are irrelevant to scientific thought. The science community has conditioned itself and the society to declare the sacred texts inferior and immaterial for informing about the earth’s actual conditions. If humankind cannot break the chains of this social conditioning, it will face the glacial-interglacial transition unprepared and it will die. It is incisive that in their models, the ancient populations have made the same morbid observation about the social conditioning that ignores the ancient knowledge of the glacial earth. They predict that because of its disposition toward ancient knowledge, humankind cannot learn and will die.

What is to be done? The only alternative is to teach and hope that humankind will learn. Teaching the ancient populations’ knowledgebase of the glacial earth, those that actually saw how the glacial earth takes shape and defines human life, is most critical for human existence. I have provided a preliminary view of the glacial earth’s ancient knowledge, for example, in the science novel The Unexpected Unseen. Much more is needed. It is unfortunate that the science community’s orientation toward the glacial-interglacial cycle has made me the only voice currently warning about the glacial-interglacial cycle threat that can make humankind go extinct. My voice needs amplification. After decades of trying to teach humankind on my own, I have reached the inevitable conclusion that I, by myself, cannot counter the assumptions embedded in the science community’s operational structure. Are there others to teach about the glacial earth as seen by ancient populations? Would you be one of them?

[1] EPICA community members. 2004. Eight glacial cycles from an Antarctic ice core. Nature 429: 623-628.

[2] Rafizadeh, H.A. 2020. Searching for the Logic of Ignoring Earth’s Global Physical Conditions. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 3(1): 9-19.

[3] Loutre, M.F., Berger, A. 2000. Future climatic changes: are we entering an exceptionally long interglacial? Climate Change 46: 61-90.

[4] Cochelin, A.-S.B., Mysak, L.A., Wang, Z. 2006. Simulation of long-term future climate changes with the green McGill paleoclimate model: The next glacial inception. Climate Change 79: 381–401.

[5] Vettoretti, G., Peltier, W.R. 2011. The impact of insolation, greenhouse gas forcing and ocean circulation changes on glacial inception. Holocene 21: 803-817.

[6] Tzedakis, P.C., Channell, J.E.T., Hodell, D.A., Kleiven, H.F., Skinner, L.C. 2012. Determining the natural length of the current interglacial. Nature Geoscience 5: 138-141.

[7] Masson-Delmotte, V., Schulz, M., Abe-Ouchi, A., et al. 2013. Information from paleoclimate archives. In Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Stocker, T.F., Qin, D., Plattner, G.K., Tignor, M., Allen, S.K., Boschung, J., Nauels, A., Xia, Y., Bex, V., Midgley, P.M. (eds). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 383-464, p. 435.

[8] Rafizadeh, H. 2018. The Unexpected Unseen. Bloomington: Archway.

[9] Rafizadeh, H. 2018. The First Rung. Bloomington: Archway.

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