A recent ice core study shows that during the last age, the Northern Hempishere briefly came out of it, before going back into it.
According to the researchers, the first abrupt warming period beginning at 14,700 years ago lasted until about 12,900 years ago, when deep-freeze conditions returned for about 1,200 years before the onset of the second sharp warming event. The two events indicate a speed in the natural climate change process never before seen in ice cores, said White, director of CU-Boulder’s Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research.
This article doesn’t address the idea of human induced climate change, but I think it’s clear a lot of the skeptics are going to point at this study and say, “Ah ha! You see? Nature can change very rapidly on its own. It’s not us at all.”
I know I need to do my own further study on the issue, but this study doesn’t cut the cake for me in terms of my opinion. I’m on the side that says we do cause it, if you wanted to know. Besides, the study cites shifts in atmospheric circulation as the catalyst for the temperature changes (EDIT: This point is actually made unclear in the article. I’m not sure if it is the catalyst or the other way around), and doesn’t talk about increased volume of greenhouse gases in the air. So, the jury is still out.
Regardless, I think this study does tell us something that’s universal to climate change, be the cause an increase in greenhouse gases or atmospheric circulation. What the above quote about doesn’t show is that the atmospheric changes may have only taken a year or two. Whether the atmospheric changes happened before or after, one thing is clear: we’ve got to be ready.
Climate changes have been theorized to be a factor in mass human death during the Little Ice Age, so imagine what might happen if the shift is bigger this time around. I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but it’s pretty clear to me that human caused or not, we have to do what we can to prepare. Even if human caused, global climate change cannot be reversed or stopped, only (possibly) slowed. So, we’ll only be delaying the inevitable. Humans have shown to have an amazing ability to adapt to every climate on this planet.
We (Gen-Y and beyond) need to start preparing, since we’ll be the hardest hit by anything that happens. You know all those people in Congress? Or the guy in November who’ll be sitting in the White House? Or the politicians in your state? None of them will have to deal with this quite like us. So we need to pressure them to start making plans now, or else make some of our own.
The question of whether or not humans have caused this mess are frankly irrelevant. What we can do to be ready for what we’ll face in the future is the more important question.