Could it be that instead of preparing for global warming it is really global cooling which looms over the horizon? We can’t be sure of course, but increasingly, there appears to be more evidence to support cooling than warming. We know for example that while the earth did warm about .6 degrees C in the past 100 years, the warming trend stopped in 1998. Even the strongest proponents of global warming admit that. They claim it is only a pause in warming and unless we essentially revert to a kind of Stone Age lifestyle we’re all going to fry, if we don’t drown first from the rising oceans!
But as I reported yesterday there is something going on with the sun which is beginning to deeply concern many scientists. For the first time in more than 100 years there were no sunspots for an entire month. The sun has entered into something called Solar Cycle 24 marked by an amazingly low number of sun spots. During some periods there are as many as 100 sun spots over a 30 day period, but for the past year or so that number has dropped to about 3 per month and during August for the first time since 1913 there was not a single sun spot according to the Mount Wilson Observatory at UCLA.
What is disturbing is that during the past 1000 years there have been three similar instances of very low or totally absent sun spot activity and during each episode the earth cooled substantially. In fact during one such period we experienced a “little ice age”. This occurred during the 15th and 16th centuries. During the coldest part, known as the Maunder Minimum, astronomers saw only about 50 sunspots over a 30-year period during which, among other things, the River Thames froze over completely and winter-like weather during the summer months resulted in widespread famine. Glaciers advanced rapidly in Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia and North America, making vast tracts of land uninhabitable. There are reports of Eskimos landing their kayaks in Scotland. The Viking colonies in Greenland were abandoned completely. During the winter of 1780, New York harbor froze, allowing people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island.
We are now at the beginning of Solar Cycle 24, so named because it is the 24th consecutive cycle that astronomers have listed, starting with the first cycle that began in March, 1755 and ended June 1766. Each cycle lasts an average of 11 years. Each is marked by sunspots that first erupt in the mid-latitudes of the sun and then over the course of the 11 years, erupt progressively toward the sun equator, each is marked by a change in the polarity of the sun’s hemispheres and each changes the temperature on Earth in ways that we humans don’t fully understand.
Are we headed for another little ice age? Who can say, surely not Al Gore. Sunspots could very well start to re-appear today or tomorrow, or perhaps not. And if they don’t? Could it be that the River Thames will freeze again?
When Shakespeare wrote of “lawn as white as driven snow” he had first hand experience. He was living in the little ice age. There were a lot of lawns as white as driven snow around here a few months back. Was that the start of something? Ask David Suzuki.
If you are interested in having a closer look at this check out the website dailytech.com. Another great source to check out is the book entitled “The Deniers” authored by Lawrence Solomon.