Chill out, seriously

By SARA DONNELLY  |  October 27, 2008

Chill out, seriously

Global warming forecasts could be nixed if the worldwide current called the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt stops working. The belt shifts heat around in the ocean and is responsible for keeping Europe tolerably toasty. It has slowed to a near standstill a few times in Earth’s history, and when it did, scientists believe the world experienced significant cooling — and fast. As if global warming weren’t exciting enough, scientists have recently noticed that the belt is beginning to slow right now, perhaps because the varying degrees of ocean-salt density that set it in motion are being diluted by fresh water from the melting polar ice caps. If the belt stops, temps in Europe and much of the US would suddenly drop, locking some of us under a sheet of ice. In other words, as one Portland environmental activist said, “We’re all fucked.” Ever seen the movie The Day After Tomorrow? Kind of like that, except it would take a little longer and Jake Gyllenhaal would, sadly, probably not triumph.


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