Pleistocene shows a switch between glacial and interglacial ages.

However, humanity is burning fossil fuels and increasing atmosphere's $\ce{CO2}$ content.

Should we expect a new glacial age after this interglacial or humans will avoid it and Holocene will become a new climatic epoch?

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, I think there would be another ice age or mini ice age because one chemical reaction is capable of being stronger than most man-made GHG emisssions. $\endgroup$
    – Tardy
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


The reason the Holocene began about 12000 years ago was because that was when Northern Hemisphere summers were hot but short. Those hot summers started a melting process.

Right now, July is when the Earth is furthest from the Sun. This makes Northern Hemisphere summers long but mild. That is one of the key conditions that enables a glaciation to start. In particular, glaciations start when summers at high northern latitudes are so mild that all of the snow that accumulated during the previous winter doesn't melt. This triggers a runaway effect by increasing the Earth's albedo. This means the next summer will be even cooler and even more snow and ice will accumulate. Even though we're right about when a glaciation would nominally start, that hasn't happened this time around because of a combination of a lowish eccentricity of the Earth's orbit and a lowish axial tilt (obliquity) of the Earth's orientation, and possibly because of human-generated CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

The Earth dodged a glaciation bullet this time around. The next chance for that bullet to hit (aphelion in late June / early July) will be 23 to 26 thousand years from now, and the next one after that, roughly 50 or so thousand years for now. From what I've read, eccentricity and obliquity conditions won't be quite conducive to see the onset of a glaciation the next time around, so the Earth will have to wait 50 or so thousand years to see the possibility of another glaciation.

While that isn't our problem, we can help our children's children's children's children's ... children (about 2000 generations worth) survive that potential glaciation threat 50 or so thousand years from now by leaving them with lots of carbon-containing resources to burn. They might well need those hydrocarbons to prevent a glaciation. As a double bonus, stopping burning those hydrocarbons now will make for a much better life for our current generation of children, for their children's children, and for their children's children's children (which brings us to about 2100).

  • $\begingroup$ Good answer. I have read from many deniers of cc the argument we are going to be frozen. I allways answer the same, we do not have to hurry about a glaciation yet, there will be time to burn fossil fuels in many many generations and we are stupidly increasing CO2 content before we have an urge $\endgroup$
    – user20559
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 15:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Universal_learner Please learn to ignore those climate change deniers. Their mostly religious-based arguments have long been dubious, and at this point in time, they are flat out false. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ Please explain why that potential glaciation would be a threat, Seems to me that it would vastly improve the overall climate, making now-tropical areas pleasantly habitable (there's more land area around the equator than at present-day temperate latitudes), and creating large areas of new land as sea level drops. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 4:35

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