How Did the Ice Ages End?
With a Bang, Not a Whimper, Believes Maverick Researcher Randall CarlsonBy Cynthia Logan
CAPTIONS: The edge of the Greenland icesheet, Kangerlussuaq, Greenland (Photo by L. Chang). A 3000-ton erratic basalt boulder in eastern Washington State, borne to this spot by a massive iceberg carried in raging floodwaters from melting glacial ice further north.
SIDEBAR: John Anthony West has complained that Ph.D. candidates in Egyptology spend way too much time on subjects like Tutankhamun’s underwear, and far too little on subjects of real significance, like the true meaning of Egypt’s monuments. We end up knowing more and more about less and less, he has argued. The pattern is repeated throughout the entire scientific establishment, as researchers, in order to advance their careers, feel the need to specialize in ever-narrower areas of interest. The smart doctoral candidates politely defer to experts in other fields, and stick to their specialty. Nobody seems willing, or able, to address the big picture. The consequence: certain entrenched mythologies are never challenged. One of the most persistent is the notion that there is NO real evidence that the ice ages ended with great planetary catastrophes, as recently as 12,000 years ago. At least one scholar, however, begs to differ.
Randall Carlson, an independent researcher in the tradition of John Anthony West, Graham Hancock, or even nineteenth century scholar Ignatius Donnelly (Atlantis: The Antediluvian World), has taken up the challenge of finding out—big-picture-wise—what we actually know and what we do not. Working diligently—albeit outside the academic system—for over a third of a century, Carlson has applied his formidable intellect and energies to analyzing the vast array of peer reviewed scientific literature in many related fields. In the process, he has uncovered a mountain of startling research, which, though fully vetted, has been virtually ignored by an establishment, seemingly more devoted to preserving paradigms and privilege, than the truth.
To collect even more compelling evidence, Carlson has deployed a small army of volunteers to pursue some large-scale field research, mostly in America’s Pacific Northwest. Not surprisingly, he has become something of an authority on the case for a severe planetary cataclysm at the end of the last ice age, as well as such hot-button items as global warming. A familiar presence on the Internet, Carlson is consulted by many, including popular YouTube host Joe Rogan. Graham Hancock swears by Carlson’s research and devotes a major part of his forthcoming book The Magicians of the Gods to it.
Recently, Atlantis Rising Magazine asked longtime contributing writer Cynthia Logan to catch up with Randall Carlson and get his story for our readers. —ED
How’s this for an inconvenient truth? Carbon dioxide accounts for just .04 percent of atmospheric greenhouse gas. And while methane has been introduced as a major contributor (often with a good deal of smirking), the dominant greenhouse gas is, according to climate scholar Randall Carlson, water vapor. So why are we all counting our carbons? The lay geologist believes we have a climate bureaucracy whose ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory’ employs tunnel vision when it comes to the bigger picture. “Since the advent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)… it has become typical to denigrate anyone who questions the consensus that carbon dioxide is the sole or even the dominant driver of climate change,” he writes. He believes global warming is driven by political interests to control energy distribution and consumption. He scoffs at the claim that the climate debate is over; in his mind, it’s barely begun. “The so-called consensus is completely manufactured. It doesn’t exist. Solar physicists say the IPCC leaves out the Sun, so how realistic are those models? Questionnaires sent out to obtain consensus were slanted.”
Seems radical, but before dissing or dismissing his viewpoint, a few facts are in order. First, he does believe humans are affecting the climate, but would like our contribution to be factored into a larger perspective. Second, he thinks it’s critically important to examine assumptions and claims made “by those who clearly stand to gain by the implementation of carbon remediation measures.” He also believes we should consider dissenting voices trying to remind us the climate has always changed, and that sometimes those changes have been extreme and catastrophic. Third, for nearly forty years Carlson has interviewed scientists from many disciplines, and has traveled to see and explore evidence for himself. He doesn’t watch much TV (unless it’s something relevant to his research, usually on PBS) and reads constantly. In fact, he’s read two or three scientific articles almost every single day since the 1970s. Asked about his credentials, he responds; “I have a command of the facts and thousands of references at my fingertips. I’m willing to sit down with anybody and discuss any of this.”
When he says ‘any of this,’ he means more than climatology. Randall Carlson is a curious person and has from an early age sought to assemble a vast cosmic puzzle whose pieces include astronomy, history, geology and mathematics (all of which he has studied formally), as well as architecture, archaeology, ancient civilizations, sacred geometry, numerology, literature, mythology—and catastrophism. And he’s not just an eclectic; the guy connects the dots. “There’s an overspecialization in science today,” says Carlson. “An oceanographer doesn’t have the correspondences of astronomy, geology, and other disciplines; you’re an astronomer, but have you ever looked at geology? Don’t bring in ad hominin arguments—I’ve invested huge amounts of time—this is what I do for recreation. I’m obsessively curious about these things.”
Carlson traces his interest in catastrophism to the plastic View-Master he received for his fifth birthday. Essentially a stereoscope utilizing circular reels with paired images on color film, it shows scenes in 3D. “My favorite set of View-Master reels was a series of 21 dinosaur scenes—after depicting an encounter and impending battle between a Triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the narrative introduces the imagery of global Catastrophe, way ahead of its time in the early 1950s.”
After high school, Carlson spent three months hitchhiking through Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. “I came back with the impression that there is a story in this landscape; it felt compelling,” he recalls. “Ancient history, mythology, and symbolism interested me as well.” Carlson was also curious about the ‘lost continent’ of Atlantis and read numerous books on the subject, including German physicist Otto Muck’s Secret of Atlantis. “Muck’s theory was that Earth had been hit by an asteroid that came in from the Northwest, sinking the island of Atlantis in the process,” he explains. “The meteor broke up, and pieces were splayed across the southeastern United States, creating the Carolina Bays—tens of thousands of shallow elliptical depressions along parallel axes from northwest to southeast.” Since ‘the Bays are basically his backyard, Carlson began to research them during the 1980s at Fernbank Science Center, a resource established for the public.
Carlson had learned that in 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia, a bolide (the term encompasses ‘all species of cosmic creatures’: asteroids, meteorites, comets, etc.) had exploded in the atmosphere with the force of a large hydrogen bomb, leveling 830 square miles of old-growth forest. He thinks the event “ranks up there in importance with the moon landing, the World Wars, and the invention of the atomic bomb.” The area was so remote it wasn’t until 1927 that the first Russian scientists got to the site. Once they did, they found numerous, shallow elliptical depressions similar to the Carolina Bays: Carlson surmises they were produced by shockwaves hitting the ground. He notes that after the Apollo mission, there was a major shift in the prevailing paradigm; “moon craters had been thought to be volcanic. After Apollo we knew they’d been created by meteor strikes. Since Earth is much bigger than the moon, it would be more vulnerable than the moon, so there was nothing fantastical about thinking Earth had been struck a few times.”
In the early 90s Carlson majored in geology at DeKalb College in Georgia and, competing against roughly 500 other students, received the ‘Outstanding Geology Student of the Year award for papers he wrote. “Professors there have had me guest lecture a number of times, so I must have something to offer academia,” says the researcher, who now lives in Decatur, Georgia near Atlanta, where he and his brother own and operate Archetype Design / Build, Inc. “I do the design work on a computer that creates awesome 3D modeling,” says Carlson, a third generation master builder and longtime Freemason who deliberately avoided what he calls ‘the AIA (American Institute of Architects) route,’ electing to use the title architectural designer instead of Registered Architect. “We focus on residential and small commercial, making older buildings energy efficient—putting in new windows, rainwater harvesting systems, a few photovoltaics.” Though past commissions averaged half to a million dollars, they had a rough time during the recent financial recession. So Carlson pulled out another of his talents, tutoring homeschooled kids in math, science, and geology.
Those STEM skills come naturally to the Minnesota born, sixty-four-year-old who grew up among, as he recalls it, “a rolling mosaic of hills, pasture, forest, meadow, agricultural fields, and countless lakes.” He guesses the landscape was the product of the great Ice Age that ended ten thousand years ago, “The lakes were puddles of meltwater left from the final retreat of the vast ice sheets that reached northward to beyond the Arctic Circle, and all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific.” Carlson points out that at times the area where he lived had been buried under more than a thousand feet of ice.
The scope of catastrophe and rapidity of the transition out of that ice age were of great scientific controversy in the nineteenth century and provide the background for what Carlson calls “a heroic tale of one lone maverick geologist standing against the entire geological community.” He mentions geology’s founding fathers: Adam Sedgewick, Roderick Murchison, William Buckland, and Georges Cuvier—men of leisure, theologians, and traveling ministers with rural routes who pioneered the field between 1820–1840. “Interestingly and ironically, they were all catastrophists,” he notes, adding that after the Civil War ‘strict gradualism’ (the idea that the formation of mountains, the building up of a seashore, the erosion of canyons, etc., occurs over eons) came to dominate the field. For Carlson, geology is “the science by which we decipher the extraordinary history of the Earth.” His study of the discipline led him to “read the landscape and to understand the story it had to tell.” The story of the lone maverick goes like this: During the 1920s–1950s, geologist J. Harlan Bretz challenged the era of strict gradualism. Having discovered a series of giant, abandoned coulees in Washington State containing huge gravel and boulder bars, he concluded the only way to explain them was through a sudden, catastrophic flood. “He fought the geological establishment for 30 years, doggedly documenting the evidence,” relates Carlson. “By the late 60s and early 70s newer, younger geologists weren’t so invested in the gradualist paradigm and accepted Bretz’ ideas, particularly after actually going into the field and seeing evidence for themselves.”
The catastrophe Bretz had correlated to the coulees he’d found was the Missoula Flood, one of a number of giant floods that periodically swept across eastern Washington and down the Columbia River Gorge as the massive glaciers in the Canadian Rockies melted. The consensus today is that Glacial Lake Missoula burst through a 2000-foot ice dam and exploded downstream—the waters running at a rate ten times the combined flow of all of the current rivers in the world. Impressive when you think about it—but not impressive enough to drop Carlson’s jaw. “I believe the flood was much larger than can be attributed to a draining glacial lake,” he says emphatically. Even with an oversized burst, he thinks there’s a problem of scale not addressed by the conventional explanation. “The volumes and discharges were a thousand times greater than modern examples of glacially dammed outburst floods: we’re talking about hundreds of millions of cubic feet of water per second! An ice cap is frozen water—if a bolide hit the ice cap it would melt the ice and launch water vapor into the stratosphere, causing torrential rainfall. All over the U.S., even here in the southern Appalachians, there is evidence of this.”
Carlson wanted to see the Missoula Flood area for himself. Physically active growing up—swimming, canoeing, walking, bicycling, horseback riding, hiking, and camping, he is used to the demands of exploratory ventures. “I’ve made 10–12 trips to the Missoula Flood region now, covering some 50 thousand miles. You have to ride horseback and paddle in to get to some of these sites, and take aerial overflights—some of these features are so big you don’t get the perspective from the ground, but from five thousand feet you can see how vast they are.” Last fall’s adventure took him yet again to the Missoula Flood region, where he acted as a guide for Graham Hancock (author of the groundbreaking book, Fingerprints of the Gods). While climbing outcrops, the two documented evidence of their shared theory that 12,900 years ago, a catastrophic climate shift known as ‘The Younger Dryas’ brought the planet out of the glacial age into the present interglacial age. “It was during this extreme transition that the great mass of glacial ice, some six-million cubic miles worldwide, rapidly melted down. So fast was this melting that scientists have not been able to explain the source of the energy it would have taken to melt it,” relates Carlson, who, like Hancock, believes an asteroid or comet impact initiated the shift.
Like Otto Muck, Hancock theorized there had been a sophisticated civilization which disappeared when the Ice Age ended due to a catastrophe, but wasn’t specific about what that event was, says Carlson, whose work will be featured in at least four chapters of Hancock’s highly anticipated title, Magicians of the Gods. “In the 1970s there were many scientists, oceanographers, etc., wanting to debunk Atlantis—and to their credit, there was a lot of pseudoscience around Atlantis, so the thrust was to debunk fringe ideas. But they didn’t give fair attention to Plato (who wrote about Atlantis in his dialogues, Critias and Timaeus). I was curious, so I went through several translations line by line, looking at references to geology and astronomy—and I found it quite credible.”
Carlson, himself a geo-mythologist, notes that Plato prefaces Timaeus with the Greek myth of Phaeton, son of the Sun God Helios. In a nutshell, Phaeton, attempting to drive Helios’ chariot, careened away from the ecliptic and set fire to the earth, causing massive destruction. Plato infers that the myth signifies the descent of a bolide but doesn’t directly state that it caused the sinking of Atlantis. But Carlson, who believes the myth is based on human memory of a bolide, also thinks Plato intended readers to make that connection. “What is more explicit is that Plato gives the date of destruction as 9000 years before Solon (a poet and lawgiver who lived in Athens around 600 BCE) was exiled to Egypt. From today, that would be 11,600 years ago—coincidentally just when the Younger Dryas ended.”
In addition to providing a timeframe, Plato offered clues about Atlantis’ location. “He wrote that it was ‘west of the Pillars of Heracles,’ which is the Straits of Gibraltar,” relates Carlson, obviously enthused about sliding another piece into the puzzle. “In the mid-Atlantic Ocean we have the Azores plateau, 2,000 feet under the sea. The Azores are the tops of mountains emerging from the ocean. The thinnest crust on the planet is around the mid-Atlantic ridge; it’s like a giant suture running halfway around the planet.” During the Ice Age, the volume of ice mass was six million cubic miles; the land mass covered six-million square miles; and the weight was—wait for it—23 quadrillion tons: that’s 23 million, billion tons.
“The weight of so much meltwater along that suture would have crushed it down into the Earth’s mantle, creating an isostacy, a vertical depression,” says Carlson. Under such weight, a large island along the ridge certainly could have sunk beneath the ocean. (Interestingly, Hudson Bay is the depression left from the thickest part of the ice.) “With the scientific evidence we have today, there’s nothing pseudoscientific in assuming it could be a historical reality that during the Ice Age there was a very benign, habitable, large island located in the mid-Atlantic where the Azores are situated,” concludes Carlson. And that an impact from space unleashed a climate catastrophe that, in a planetary heartbeat, wiped out the advanced maritime civilization Plato described as inhabiting the lost island of Atlantis. Puts a bit of perspective into global warming, doesn’t it?
So if owning a Prius isn’t a driving need, what does Carlson think we should be concerned about? “Let’s drop the climate hysteria and look at the carbon cycle,” he suggests. “We’re approaching 400 parts per million (ppm) atmospheric concentration. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution carbon dioxide has increased by just over 100 parts per million. That means that for every 100 thousand molecules of air, every ten years one molecule of CO2 has been added to the atmosphere.” As he explained to radio host Joe Rogan, climate shifts even in recent history dwarf the changes we’re now experiencing. “The onset of our modern geological epoch, the Holocene era, occurred 11,600 years ago, when a catastrophic warming spike jerked the planet out of the Ice Age,” he states. The mega-meltdown caused a rapid rise in sea levels.
Closer to our own time, well documented global cooling launched the Dark Ages (A.D. 536–544), culminating in the Justinian Plague, when one-third of Europe’s population was wiped out—and didn’t recover until the world warmed up and agriculture rebounded.
During the Medieval Warming Period (1130–1150) people could eat more, grow strong, accumulate wealth, and build the Great Cathedrals. “You also had the Troubadours, schools of Kabbalah, the formation of the Knights Templar—amazing spiritual things during the High Gothic, High Middle Ages,” says Carlson, who is an expert in Sacred Architecture. Then, from about 1315–1320 the climate cooled, coinciding with the end of Gothic building. More agricultural collapses ensued; rotting crops and hunger led to the onset of the Black Plague, again decimating the European population. “Phase One of the Little Ice Age hit around 1320 and continued for 150 years, after which there was a break and the Renaissance kicked in,” says Carlson. “Phase Two hit in the 1600s and was even colder than the first phase. During this time, glaciers expanded to the largest they’d been in 10,000 years. They began to recede between 1840 and 1860 and have been contracting continuously since then. There’s been no real change in the rate of recession with the advent of fossil fuels, which we really began consuming in large amounts during the Second World War. The glaciers had been receding for almost 100 years prior to that. What we really need to consider is that we’ve had the longest interglacial period in several hundred thousand years.”
In a series of lectures he gave in 1997 at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, Carlson suggested that the tempo of global change fits the archaic model based on the Great Year, equivalent to one Precession of the Equinoxes (which move westward relative to fixed stars) opposite the motion of the Sun along the ecliptic (the phenomenon is now referred to as Earth’s Precession). “Whether we look at it from year to year, over decades or through the centuries, we find that at whatever scale we use, the climate has been vastly changing,” says Carlson. “When you have six- to seven-million cubic miles of ice melt over a few thousand years, it’s reasonable to conclude that the sole driver of climate change is not carbon.”
Could we be fixated on the details of a miniscule aspect of just one factor contributing to climate change? Could ours be a civilization future generations will seek to ‘unearth’? Only time will tell. For now, though, Carlson is a die-hard catastrophist; he’s also an optimist. “I don’t think we’ll see those mega-scale changes in our lifetimes,” he affirms. Perhaps we yet have time to rediscover the mysteries of Atlantis and to develop commensurate understanding to accompany technological advances that will lead to mastering ourselves along with the climate.
To learn more about Randall Carlson, visit Sacred Geometry International, cosmographicresearch.org and geocosmicrex.com.