I’m a great admirer of Robert Tracinski, who puts out one of the most thoughtful webzines, The Intellectual Activist (it also exists in a dead-tree version). His latest deals with global cooling. I’ve lifted a lot of it for you here, in the hope that some of you will want to subscribe. He’s a wonder, a fine writer, and a man prepared to evaluate evidence and change his mind when the evidence convinces him. Here you go:
recent evidence about sunspot activity is cause for concern about the likelihood that we may be returning to significantly cooler times ahead. Blogger Michael Asher reported recently that the sun made history of an ominous sort in August 2008: for the first time in 100 years an entire month has passed without a single visible sunspot being noted by astronomers.
“The article ‘Dearth of Sunspot Activity to Herald New Ice‘ portends that if this present sunspot trend continues, the world could be in for major changes.
Following the end of the Sun’s most active period in over 11,000 years, the last 10 years have displayed a clear cooling trend as temperatures post-1998 leveled out and are now plummeting. China recently experienced its coldest winter in 100 years while northeast America was hit by record snow levels and Britain suffered its coldest April in decades as late-blooming daffodils were pounded with hail and snow on an almost daily basis. The British summer has also left many yearning for global warming, with temperatures in June and July rarely struggling to get over 16 degrees [Celsius] and on one occasion even dropping as low as 9 degrees [Celsius] in the middle of the afternoon.
“Summer heat continues in short supply, continuing a trend that has dominated much of the 21st Century’s opening decade,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “There have been only 162 days 90 degrees or warmer at Midway Airport over the period from 2000 to 2008. That’s by far the fewest 90-degree temperatures in the opening nine years of any decade on record here since 1930.”
Forecasts of a sharp cooling trend are backed by the UK’s Armagh Observatory, which has been observing solar activity for over 200 years. The observatory notes that solar cycles 21 and 22, which were characterized by being short and intense in their activity, led to the natural global warming observed in the 80s and 90s. “Cycle 23, which hasn’t finished yet, looks like it will be long (at least 12 to 13 years) and cycle 24, which has still to start, looks like it will be exceptionally weak,” writes one observatory scientist.
Based on the past Armagh measurements, this suggests that over the next two decades, global temperatures may fall by about 2 degrees C—that is, to a level lower than any we have seen in the last 100 years…. “Temperatures have already fallen by about 0.5 degrees C over the past 12 months and, if this is only the start of it, it would be a serious concern,” concludes David Watt.
“Of particular concern is the fact that the complete absence of sunspot activity supports a paper on recent solar trends by William Livingston and Matthew Penn of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson. The NSO scientists have accumulated data showing a trend which suggests that by 2015, ‘sunspots will disappear from the solar surface.’
“A dearth of sunspot activity could herald a repeat of the Maunder Minimum, the name given to the period roughly from 1645 to 1715, when sunspots became exceedingly rare and contributed to the onset of the Little Ice Age.”
Jack Wakeland agrees, citing Henrik Svensmark’s The Chilling Stars, which provides the theory for the relationship between sunspot activity and global temperatures. Jack is too busy designing all of the nuclear power plants we’re going to need soon because we can’t build any more coal-fire plants, so in lieu of an actual review of the book, I’ll post the comments Jack sent to me:
“This book outlines a powerful theory of cloud formation. Dr. Svensmark’s discovery is that cosmic rays, within a specific energy band, generate the vast numbers of micro droplets of electrically-charged H2SO3 and H2SO4 in the lower atmosphere that cause sun-reflecting clouds to form. He has observed dramatic increases in charged micro-droplets of acid in the laboratory and he has seen it in data reported in airborne H2SO3, H2SO4 micro droplet surveys over the ocean. Experiments are scheduled for the CERN particle accelerator to further examine the precise mechanics of the collisions of cosmic rays with atmospheric molecules by which charged mirco-droplets are formed.
“For decades meteorologists have been chasing after the source of these micro droplets and planetary chemists have been chasing the SO3 emissions over the oceans that provide the material for most of these droplets (because most of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans). They’ve been interested because these electrically charged micro droplets of H2SO3 and H2SO4—many of which are only dozens or hundreds of molecules in size—are the nucleation sites for atmospheric water droplets that make up clouds.
“Henrik Svensmark discovered that cosmic rays create these charged micro droplets, that differences in the annual flux of cosmic rays within the frequency range that generates lower atmospheric clouds correlate directly with changes in the global atmosphere and ocean temperatures; that major astronomical collisions that have occurred two or three times over the past billion years (and produce vast fluxes of cosmic rays) can be correlated to paleontological evidence of major shocks to the earth’s climate; that decadal sun spot cycles (which alters the fraction of the cosmic rays within the right energy band that get deflected away from the solar system) correlate to decadal warming and cooling of the earth’s atmosphere; that early Renaissance observations of sunspots are correlated with centuries-long warming and cooling cycles (the end of the Medieval warm period and the Little Ice Age); and that changes in isotopic concentrations of atmospheric gases trapped in polar ice which are correlated to cosmic ray flux can be correlated to millennial changes in the earth’s atmospheric temperature.
“His cosmic-ray-cloud-formation theory explains atmospheric temperature changes on every time scale against which it has been tested: on the annual timescale, on the decadal timescale, on the tricentennial timescale, on the millennial timescale, and on the time scale of paleontological epochs (hundreds of millions of years).
“Henrik Svensmark has discovered the primary thermostat of the earth.
“Henrik Svensmark’s theory even explains the ‘Antarctic anomaly’—ice cores around the world show that, for over 30,000 years, when arctic ice and glaciers across the northern and southern hemisphere recede, Antarctic ice accumulates, and vice versa.
“Are there other, secondary thermostats? Surely there are. (e.g., astronomical changes in our sun’s output as it ages, the precession of the earth’s spin and irregularities in its orbit, and of course atmospheric chemistry, the greenhouse effect of water, methane, and CO2). But none is correlated to global climatic temperature change with one tenth of the strength or one tenth of the reliability, across all time scales, of Dr. Svensmark’s cosmic-ray-cloud-formation discovery.
“But the science on the issue of CO2’s role in changing the climate is even more clear cut. Not only is there no scientific evidence of any kind that the earth’s climate is getting hotter and being driven out of control by rising CO2 concentration, there is newly discovered scientific evidence that proves that the earth’s temperature is being driven by cosmic rays, and there is newly discovered scientific evidence that the climate is well under control. There is newly discovered evidence that proves that substantial reductions in solar activity over the past ten years have cooled the earth 0.3C.
“We not only know that CO2 is innocent, we know—with the certainty of Perry Mason winning a confession on the witness stand—which party ‘did it.’
“It is a very peculiar, even tragic, situation that Dr. Svensmark made his momentous discoveries about what is the primary driver of the earth’s climate—he made the discoveries in approximately 2002–2006—at the exact moment when it has become almost impossible to rationally discuss the earth’s climate. He made his discoveries at the moment when the entire Western World is on the brink of committing industrial suicide over the supposed horrors of too much CO2.”