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Human Beings' Impact On Earth Whacks The Planet’s Scheduled Natural Ice Age Cycle

First Posted: Dec 14, 2016 02:32 AM EST
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Planet Earth goes through a scheduled natural Ice Age cycle and is measured based on the planet's orbit. However, the impact of human beings on the environment, essentially the whole Earth, has put the planet's schedule out of whack.

What causes Ice Age and how do people predict the coming of the next one? That is the question Mark Maslin asks in his article on Nature. By investigating the history of scientists studying the Ice Age, Maslin has reached the same conclusions as his predecessors that the Ice Age is a natural phenomenon ushered in by the changes in the Earth's orbit. However, the next Ice Age the planet is supposed to be experiencing could be delayed due to the impact of human beings on the environment.

Following the Milankovitch Theory, it can be argued that the Ice Age is caused by the variations of incoming solar radiation to Earth and is affected by the orbit of the Earth. Miltulin Milankovitch suggests that Earth wobbles in its orbit; there will be different amounts of incoming solar radiation to the planet. According to Milankovitch, if there were less insolation, the Arctic Circle will experience lower temperatures, thus contributing to the production of more ice eventually building up into ice sheets.

The Milankovitch Theory was proven by three scientists, Jim Hays, Nick Shackleton and John Imbrie in 1976. Their paper published in Science confirms that the Earth's orbit affects the planet's climate, and in turn, creating the cycle of the planet's Ice Age. However, scientists of recent years argue that it was not the Earth's orbit that causes the cycle of Ice Age but rather it is a time marker on when an Ice Age would occur.

However, due to the increase of greenhouse gasses and other human activities that contribute to the destruction of the environment, the expected Ice Age has been delayed by half a million years. But if due to the impact of human beings causes the stopping of the Ice Age cycle, it would mean human beings have caused a much greater change and some would argue will usher in the start of the Anthropocene age.

In an interview with the Smithsonian, Will Steffen at the Climate Change Institute of Australia National University says, "It will be another strong reminder to the general public that we are now having undeniable impacts on the environment at the scale of the planet as a whole, so much so that a new geological epoch has begun."

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