Article 72

Knowledge As To What The Future Might Deliver.

In Chapter 14 of his timely Book, Peter Toghill has completed his study of over 2000 million years of Earth history in the British area, in the course of which his readers can see two separate portions of Britain, divided by 7000 km of ocean 500 million years ago, come together, and slowly drift north from the southern hemisphere to its present position in the northern hemisphere. In this long passage through the intervening latitudes, Britain has experienced great climatic changes from those of burning deserts, tropical seas, and rain forests, to polar glaciation. During this transit, there have been 500 million years in which two episodes of Palaeozoic mountain building caused by continental collision have produced complex fold structures over northern and western Britain, while the south and east remained relatively non-deformed and characterised by gently dipping Mesozoic and Cainozoic rocks, while the global cooling produced the Quaternary Ice Ages from which we may, or may not, be emerging. We don’t yet know what will happen next, but we do know what has happened in the past, and we ought to use the latter in considering the future.

The last major event to affect the British area was the Flandrian marine transgression, which world-wide produced a sea level rise of 120 metres between 17,000 and 7000 years ago, followed by the end of the Devensian Glaciation, the subsequent melting of which produced the isostatic bounce-back of northern Britain which is still happening with Scotland still rising by about 0.5mm per year while the rest of Britain is suffering relatively rapid tectonic subsidence at a rate of 1mm per year and even greater in the London area (2mm per year). The problem in London and south-east England is made worse because the Tertiary sediments are still consolidating and compacting in the London and Hampshire Basins. Again, the North Sea Basin is still subsiding at the same rate as in the Tertiary and early Quaternary and up to 10m of Flandrian muds have been deposited in the North Sea and Irish Sea Basins. Inland, the Quaternary glacial sediments are being stripped away by river erosion and rain wash, while coastal areas are suffering erosion of soft Tertiary and Quaternary sediments in eastern England where coasts are retreating by up to 1m per year in places. However, most of the sediments produced by this erosion finds its way into estuaries, beaches and dunes and is not deposited on the continental shelf where most of the sediment is re-worked glacial and fluvio-glacial material, while the very rapid Flandrian transgression has not yet caused the distribution pattern of continental shelf sediment to be fully established.

With Britain having just emerged from the last glaciation around 10,000 years ago, the question is, are we now in an inter-glacial period? If we are, then ice will return in a few thousand years. Alternatively, if we are not, and the Quaternary cycle of glacial/inter-glacial phases has finished completely, and eventually all traces of Quaternary glaciation on land will be eradicated by river and fluvial action in a few million years to something similar to that of the Mesozoic. However, evidence of the Quaternary glaciation would be preserved in the marine sequence of the major subsiding basins such as the North Sea. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the cold phases have finished. Indeed, a study of climatic temperature curves produced from sub-sea cores show a series of cycles with a periodicity of 20,000 to 120,000 years; that projecting these forward, and without human interference, glacial conditions should return in a few thousand years. Moreover, the effects of human activity, (however much mistakenly deplored) are unlikely to be more significant than those of natural changes of temperature of which we now have records, and which cannot have been caused by human activity, such as the 10 centigrade degree rise around 13,000 years ago, and which happened in only 100 years.

Further to non-human effects, and with respect to plate tectonics, we ought to note that all oceans eventually have to close; that there is no ocean crust anywhere in the world today that is older than 180 million years; that when the Atlantic Ocean starts to close, perhaps in 50 million years’ time, a large subduction zone will form off north-west Europe; that this could involve oceanic crust subducting under more oceanic crust, with the formation of a volcanic island arc and possibly an accretion prism as in the southern uplands during the Ordovician and the Silurian; that this subduction zone could be right against the continental margin so that an Andean-style fold mountain range would start to form with large volcanoes over Britain and widespread earthquake activity; that if the European plate started to over-ride the mid-Atlantic ridge then we would have a San Andreas transform fault and associated earthquake belt over Britain; that parts of Iceland could be welded on to the north-west of Scotland as an ophiolite; that future geologists would be hard-pressed to separate Icelandic basalts from those of Skye; that non-deformed Mesozoic and Cainozoic sediments of Britain could eventually, in say 100 million years time, form the high summits of a Himalayan-style mountain chain, with Jurassic ammonites and other fossils being found at the top of a new mount Everest, just as the present Himalayas include folded Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks with fossils formed in the now closed Tethys Ocean; and that future geologists will be comparing such fossils with those found in what we now call the recent Quaternary Period. However, in closing his book with his version of this paragraph, Peter Toghill asks the thought-provoking question: will humans be around in 200 million years’ time to study ancient rocks? After all, mass extinctions due to asteroid collisions happen every 100 million years or so.

As to the immediate future, it is my contention that the knowledge reviewed in the foregoing Articles 60 to 71 of the third section of this website, and as definitively differentiated from belief in Articles 1 to 59 of the first and second sections of this website, is sufficient to dispel all current belief in anthropogenic global warming for example; and that accordingly, the fourth section of this website will demonstrate the need for definitive knowledge to replace definitive belief in all future governmental policy-making, in all industrial responses to all such current and future policy-making, and in all current and future efforts to raise funds for the support of all such responses to all such policy-making; and that in the absence of application of my newly definitive knowledge/belief differentiation as clarified in this website, we will continue to debate opinion/counter-opinion which is merely the debate of belief/counter-belief respectively supported by facts/counter-facts, evidence/ counter-evidence and news/false-news, no set of which is ever debate-terminating conclusive knowledge; that while this failure of belief/counter-belief debate to reach any debate-terminating conclusions was first recognised by Socrates; and that we must now rectify this long-standing failure to recognise this inherent failure of debate, by recognising that debate per se must now be displaced by acceptance that all debate must be replaced with debate-terminating conclusive knowledge as soon as such knowledge can be be acquired and at least must be terminated until such knowledge is acquired; and that meanwhile we must now accept that the knowledge/belief dichotomy must be definitively differentiated by means advocated exemplified in the first three sections of this website together with those of of truth/falsehood, wisdom/folly, right/wrong, and good/bad, while in its fourth section, I will show how this definitive differentiation of the knowledge/ belief dichotomy can terminate all current and future debates of belief/counter-belief as, with the assistance of Peter Toghill, they have already questioned the current belief in anthropogenic global warming by demonstrating that the knowledge which would verify this belief has yet to be acquired, while the knowledge already acquired tends to its refutation. 10/7/21

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