Friday, April 25, 2008

Solar activity indicates we are in for a cooling period

From the International Climate Science Coalition:

Dr. Kenneth Tapping is worried about the sun. Solar activity comes in regular cycles, but the latest one is refusing to start. Sunspots have all but vanished, and activity is suspiciously quiet. The last time this happened was 400 years ago -- and it signaled a solar event known as a "Maunder Minimum," along with the start of what we now call the "Little Ice Age."Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, says it may be happening again. Overseeing a giant radio telescope he calls a "stethoscope for the sun," Tapping says, if the pattern doesn't change quickly, the earth is in for some very chilly weather.

During the Little Ice Age, global temperatures dropped sharply. New York Harbor froze hard enough to allow people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island, and in Britain, people reported sighting Eskimos paddling canoes off the coast. Glaciers in Norway grew up to 100 meters a year, destroying farms and villages.

But will it happen again?In 2005, Russian astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov predicted the sun would soon peak, triggering a rapid decline in world temperatures. Only last month, the view was echoed by Dr. Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. who advised the world to "stock up on fur coats." Sorokhtin, who calls man's contribution to climate change "a drop in the bucket," predicts the solar minimum to occur by the year 2040, with icy weather lasting till 2100 or beyond.

Observational data seems to support the claims -- or doesn't contradict it, at least. According to data from Britain's Met Office, the earth has cooled very slightly since 1998. The Met Office says global warming "will pick up again shortly."

Others aren't so sure. Researcher Dr. Timothy Patterson, director of the Geoscience Center at Carleton University, shares the concern. Patterson is finding "excellent correlations" between solar fluctuations, a relationship that historically, he says doesn't exist between CO2 and past climate changes. According to Patterson, we shouldn't be surprised by a solar link. "The sun [is] the ultimate source of energy on this planet," he says.

Such research dates back to 1991, when the Danish Meteorological Institute released a study showing that world temperatures over the past several centuries correlated very closely with solar cycles. A 2004 study by the Max Planck Institute found a similar correlation, but concluded the timing was only coincidental, as the solar variance seemed too small to explain temperature changes.

However, researchers at DMI continued to work, eventually discovering what they believe to be the link. The key factor isn't changes in solar output, but rather changes in the sun's magnetosphere A stronger field shields the earth more from cosmic rays, which act as "seeds" for cloud formation. The result is less cloud cover, and a warming planet. When the field weakens, clouds increase, reflecting more light back to space, and the earth cools off.

Recently, lead researcher Henrik Svensmark was able to experimentally verify the link between cosmic rays and cloud formation, in a cloud chamber experiment called "SKY" at the Danish National Space Center. CERN plans a similar experiment this year. A few years ago, Stanford University's Hoover Institution also reported finding a correlation between the sun and climate.

Even NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies -- long the nation's most ardent champion of anthropogenic global warming -- is getting in on the act. Drew Shindell, a researcher at GISS, says there are some "interesting relationships we don't fully understand" between solar activity and climate.

If global warming were actually occurring in the way that the climate alarmists want us to believe it would not be a problem. During the time that the great Mesopotamian civilizations arose the earth's average temperature was eight degrees higher than it is now and archaeologists call that the "climate optimum". We know that in Russia that temperate zone forests once grew all the way up to the northern coastline, which is inside the arctic circle.

The earth has been warmer in the past than it is now and the plant and animal species, including humans, were better off. The evidence even suggests that the polar bears would cope with the loss of the ice cap by turning brown again and re-adapting themselves to forest dwelling. This would result in an increase in their numbers because food is more easily obtained in a warm forest than on the barren ice.

However global cooling is a horse of a different color. The last time the earth cooled off to the degree which we are likely to experience over the next few decades the results were catastrophic, at least for humans.

During the Little Ice Age the growing season shortened and land that had once been productive became marginal and land that was marginal became non-arable. Societies which had been prosperous were reduced to starvation and the stress caused by the lack of food and the cold weather weakened the population and prepared them for the Black Plague.

It took the population of Europe hundreds of years to recover to their pre-cooling numbers.

In developed societies like North America and Europe the prospects of starvation and plague are remote, however that cannot be said about the undeveloped parts of the world, which happens to be most of the world.

As the acreage which can be farmed practically shrinks food prices will rise and the nations which currently produce an agricultural surplus will need to keep more of that food for their own populations. As the amount of food aid to the Third World decreases populations will be stressed and nature's methods of population control will begin to assert themselves.

Nature's methods of population control where humans are concerned are warfare and disease.

Much could be done now to lessen or even eliminate the harm that global cooling will cause. Mexico has large amounts or arable land which will remain productive even in a cooler world. If that land were farmed with the technology and efficiency of US farms Mexico would become a breadbasket. The same can be said of Africa.

The advanced nations need to assume that the coming cooling period will be as bad as the Little Ice Age and take a hard look at what this will do to agricultural productivity and start pouring their resources into those parts of the world which will remain productive.

The first step in this process is going to have to be an aggressive policy of electrification using clean coal and nuclear power. Modern agricultural methods depend upon a technological infrastructure which cannot exist without electric power. If this means that power plants in Africa have to be guarded by NATO troops to keep the warring tribesmen from shooting up the containment building and causing a meltdown then so be it.

A side effect of this will be to spread the benefits of civilization and modern technological society to places which have never known either.