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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lorne Gunter: Global warming? Try global cooling.

  Jun 16, 2011 – 9:52 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 16, 2011 11:15 AM ET
I once asked readers to take a quick quiz. “Which,” I wondered, ’is usually warmer, day or night? And what is typically the warmest part of the day? The warmest time of year? And the warmest kind of weather, cloudy or cloudless? If you answered day, afternoon, summer and cloudless,” I concluded, “you may be beginning to understand why the sun, and not manmade greenhouse gas, is the cause of global climate change.”
Most of the historic periods of major solar activity correspond very well with past eras of extra-warm climate on Earth. Meanwhile, a period known as the Maunder Minimum (from roughly 1650 to 1720) corresponds to the coldest period of the Little Ice Age that occurred between the early 14th Century and about 1850. In other words, the sun is the biggest driver of climate change on Earth, not idling SUVs or oilsands mining.
So we should be concerned that good old Sol appears to be turning itself down for a while. As a result, far from dangerous warming, the Earth may be heading into a prolonged period (two to three decades) of very cold weather.
I’m not talking about -30C in July. But we could be headed for but cooler summers with fewer frost-free days and shorter growing seasons, as well as longer, colder winters.
Delegates to the American Astronomical Society meeting this week in New Mexico heard from three separate groups of researchers that the current period of solar activity (Cycle 24) is already one of the weakest on record. Meanwhile, the next one (Cycle 25) — they come in waves of roughly 11-years duration each — could well be the most inactive since the Maunder Minimum.
Here is how one respected climate-change blogger described it:
A missing jet stream (in the sun’s interior), fading spots, and slower activity near (it’s) poles say that our Sun is heading for a rest period even as it is acting up for the first time in years, according to scientists at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
As the current sunspot cycle, Cycle 24, begins to ramp up toward maximum, independent studies of the solar interior, visible surface, and the corona indicate that the next 11-year solar sunspot cycle, Cycle 25, will be greatly reduced or may not happen at all.
The results were announced at the annual meeting of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society, which is being held this week at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
Here’s another story that explains well what is going on.
Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory told reporters “If we are right, this could be the last solar maximum we’ll see for a few decades. That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth’s climate.” Prof. Hill later told Reuters that he was not predicting an end to the threat of global warming. But frankly, that is the kind of don’t-rock-the-boat butt-covering that many scientists are engaged in these days. The climate-change orthodoxy in academia is so entrenched (and so able to control grants, tenures and reputations) that many scientists with contrary views are reluctant to voice them. Dr. Hill may well believe that a deep reduction in solar activity will have little impact on projected global warming. Or he may believe the warming is natural and will be little effected by sun-spot hibernation. Or he may sincerely believe the sun-climate connection is too weak to overcome the CO2-climate connection that many environmentalists and climate scientists see.
The main point to take away from the AAS meetings is that there are powerful forces that have great influence over our climate that warming-alarmist scientists and activists have barely taken into account — if at all — when forecasting doom and gloom for our planet if we don’t all change our lifestyles dramatically and put the UN in charge of industrial planning.
The science of climate change is far from settled, despite all the hysterical reporting to the contrary.
National Post
Follow Lorne on Twitter @lornegunter

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