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Can Humans Survive another Ice Age?

Updated on November 2, 2011
lee custodio profile image

Lee is a freelance researcher and writer for six years. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Management


Can humans survive another Ice Age?

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Abrupt changes in temperature happen within decades or millennia giving much time for humans to adopt with the gradual change in the environment. After all studies have shown that for the past millions of years, the Earth has indicated a repeated cycle of earth’s climate going from warm phase to glacial environment.

James Croll’s theory in the 19th century and later on developed fully by Milutin Milankovitch in 1938 states that the orbital shifts cause the waxing and waning of ice ages. These periods of shifts are associated with the changes in the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis; changes in the orientation of Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun called “precession of the equinoxes”; and the changes in the shape, more rounded or less rounded, of the elliptical orbit. Indeterminate Ice age conditions in general happens when all of the mentioned conditions work together to create a minimum of summer sunlight on the arctic regions of the earth, although the Ice Age cycle is global in nature and occurs in phase in both north and south hemispheres, it extremely affects distribution of ice over bodies of land and ocean, atmospheric temperatures and circulation, and ocean temperatures and circulation in the surface and in great depth (Joyce & Keigwin, 2009).

But the main question remains, can humans survive another ice age? Joyce and Keigwin (2009) reiterated that climate change from warm periods to glacier conditions are happening rapidly and are now becoming decade-long transitions rather than the cycles that had happened before that are millennial in shifts. This phenomenon is exacerbated because of immense human production of carbon dioxide that gets trap in the air causing green house effect. And In order to balance the excess heating near the equator and cooling at the poles of the earth, both north and south atmosphere and ocean carry heat from low to high latitudes. Warmer surface water is cooled at high latitudes, releasing heat to the atmosphere, which is then radiated towards space. This heat engine operates to reduce equator-to-pole temperature differences and is a primary balancing mechanism for climate on Earth.

On today’s modern society wherein information is at our fingertips and technologies are being developed every day, the chances of human survival towards another ice age is greater than before with the utilization of technological advances that we have now.  Information dissemination regarding the matter is easier with the use of the internet, education through other mass media like television and print and new technological inventions to prepare humans for the coming of the ice. Infrastructures such as innovative and mammoth engineering could be developed in such a way that it can repel much of the cold. Infrastructure can also be modified to make massive collective farm for growing food indoors possible; same goes with the idea of raising cattle and poultry indoors. Handy gadgets and tools could also make all the difference. Improve communication via mobile phones and PDAs, innovative means of transportation that can make use of ice or the air’s humidity as fuel, and as source of energy. Farfetched ideas can become reality when necessity demands it. Survival is all about preparation. Preparation and reparation are currently being done through organizations that focus in helping the environment, various government programs and media advocacies. Today we are already experiencing the effects of the changes in weather. Probably not all will survive, but an ice age will not be the doom of human beings. Gone are the ideas that we would go back to the “basics” we can use and improve the things that we have now, since we do have the time, to prepare for an ice age. Ice age will not come in a blink of an eye, or in a wave of a wand, it will come relatively fast—decades, but that given period, the indomitable spirit and knowledge of the people can outsmart whatever Mother Nature would bring.


Joyce, Terrence & Lloyd Keigwin. Are We on the Brink of a ‘New Little Ice Age?’ Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. May 21 2009 <> 06 July 2009.


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    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 6 years ago from Birmingham, England

      I think we could survive, but it won't be pretty. For all our technological prowess, our infrastructure is actually very fragile. An Ice Age would render most of the Northern Hemisphere uninhabitable, so you would see mass migration from Eurasia and North America into the tropical areas, many would die through various causes.

      The rebuilding of civilisation would depend on the availability of crops and animals that could be utilised for food. I think that if the Ice Age is severe enough, then the survivors may revert back to Hunting and Gathering. Great article. Voted up.

    • profile image

      jennifer stewart 6 years ago

      i hope so i mean we have too their is no way it could kill us out right but what would kill us is the lack of fuel and available food and water and heating such as wood coal and other wise bye

    • lee custodio profile image

      lee custodio 6 years ago

      thank you lone77star for your interest in my hub. your theory of the lost city of Atlantis is also intriguing.

    • lone77star profile image

      Rod Martin Jr 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I like the optimism of your article. Many have talked of human infrastructure being more fragile and falling apart under the weight of Mother Nature's changes.

      One of the most rapid climate changes occurred about 9620 BC, right when the renowned Greek philosopher, Plato, said that a fabled island had been swallowed whole by the sea. And we have two other pieces of scientific evidence for that event -- volcanic trace in the Greenland ice cores and a sudden, 2-meter drop in sea levels worldwide, after thousands of years of rise.

      The children of Atlantis, and the myths they spawned, may have given rise to our own cradles of civilization. They knew what was possible, because their ancestors had already done it. Even if nature tears it all down, humanity, in their indomitable spirit, will build it up again.