Video report: Fewer sun spots: Is cooler weather ahead?

Many scientists have been looking at the sun for the reason behind our recent global cooling. Now there are indications that this might be just the beginning of much cooler weather ahead.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Lance Groth on 04/10/2009 - 10:23 am.

    I’m not sure that “global cooling” is the correct way to describe current conditions. The last two Australian summers have been marked by extreme heat and drought. So it seems that at best, we’re seeing northern hemisphere cooling. Since the sun presumably affects the entire globe equally, one wonders if the variability has more to do with ocean currents. Perhaps the North Atlantic Current has weakened due to the influx of fresh water runoff from ice melt? Or a combination of that and La Nina?

    In any case, if the sun is giving us a break from the overall warming trend, we should look at it as just that – a temporary reprieve from global warming. We should seize upon that to get our act together regarding greenhouse gas emissions. The sun will become more active eventually, sunspots will return, and when they do, warming will resume with a vengeance as atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have continued to rise in the interim.

    Don’t look to solar variability to save us. That’s rather like wishing upon a star.

  2. Submitted by Glenn Mesaros on 04/10/2009 - 10:40 am.

    The continued solar inactivity is consistent with forecasts that have been coming out from Russia’s Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg, over more than a year. On Jan. 22, 2008 senior scientist Khabibullo Abdusamatov, head of the Space Research Lab at the Pulkovo Observatory, said in an interview with RIA Novosti that, “temperatures on Earth have stabilized in the past decade, and the planet should brace itself for a new Ice Age rather than global warming.”

    Abdusamatov warned correctly, at the beginning of 2008, that global temperatures would drop slightly that year, rather than rise, due to unprecedentedly low solar radiation in the past 30 years, and would continue decreasing even if industrial emissions of carbon dioxide reach record levels. According to Abdusamatov’s 2008 forecast: “By 2041, solar activity will reach its minimum according to a 200-year cycle, and a deep cooling period will hit the Earth approximately in 2055-2060. It will last for about 45-65 years and by mid-21st century the planet will face another Little Ice Age.”

    Belittling the global warming scare, Abdusamatov pointed out: “According to scientists, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has risen more than 4% in the past decade — but global warming has practically stopped. Had global temperatures directly responded to concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they would have risen by at least 0.1 degrees Celsius in the past ten years — however, it never happened.”

    Over a century of climatological studies has demonstrated that longer- term climate is driven by changes in the Earth’s orbital relationship to the Sun. Over the past 2 million years, orbital cycles lasting 20,000, 40,000 and 100,00 years have combined to produce glaciations lasting from 100,000 to 200,000 years over the northern hemisphere. The last glacial advance, which ended approximately 12,000 years ago, covered North America down to the latitude of New York and Chicago with a blanket of ice estimated to be 1 to 2 miles thick.

    The present Earth-Sun orbital relationship is such that the onset of a new glaciation is to be expected any time soon. The Earth, indeed, has been in a prolonged cooling since the Holocene climatic optimum of 3000 BC. A descent into a new Little Ice Age, triggered by such short-term variations in sunspot activity as are reported here, is thus a scientific likelihood. For a variety of reasons, the increase in carbon dioxide from human industrial activity has not been able to change the direction of climate dictated by the Sun’s output. Carbon dioxide has been much exaggerated as a greenhouse gas. It is not out of the question that the coming Little Ice Age will mark the beginning of a prolonged period of continental glaciation such as the Earth experienced for the 100,000 years prior to the beginning of our current interglacial about 12,000 to 14,000 years ago.

    32,000 scientists, including Minnesota State Legislators, have signed petitions debunking “manmade” global warming. The only hot air has come from Al Gore and his coterie of white racist environmentalists who want to cripple the world economy to the detriment of those colored peoples who require a higher standard of living.

  3. Submitted by Theo Kozel on 04/10/2009 - 11:07 am.

    I would invite those who read these forum comments to research Glenn’s points of fact in the post above prior to repeating them. You will find them by and large to be false, particularly the “32,000 scientist petition” part. Indeed, if one spends much time at all scratching the surface of global warming skepticism, you will find a constantly recycled set of debunked “factoids”, geared precisely at people who have neither the time nor inclination to double-check the facts. On the other hand, if you scratch the surface of anthropogenic climate change theory, you will find a tremendously wide array of supportive data and evidence from scientists in many different fields and from all over the world. Please exercise the same skepticism regarding what I say that I am asking you to exercise towards Glenn’s post. I’m quite comfortable with people spending time researching and finding facts for themselves.

  4. Submitted by Barbara & Jon Scoll on 04/10/2009 - 12:03 pm.

    Dahl confuses “climate” with “weather” — perhaps deliberately. Climate changes slowly, over centuries, in response to solar and other influences. Weather is what we see out the window each day. Dahl is gives good weather on TV. But in implying (he never outright says) that climate change and short-term weather changes are the same, he is misleading his readers/ viewers.

    Why do TV weather people do this? The founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, has termed climate change “the greatest scam in history.” Perhaps MinnPost can do a story on this pervasive, and somewhat weird, phenomenon.

    The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human beings have in fact, altered — and are altering — the earth’s climate, through the release of gigatons of greenhouse gas, from carbon-based fuels and agriculture. The effects are measurable, and thoroughly documented.

    The policy debate in Congress and worldwide is not whether, but how, to slow and reverse this trend. Attributing climate change solely to solar influence is on a par with creationism — head-in-the-sand dogma masquerading as “science.” But the consequences for humanity of climate-denial are much more drastic than denial of evolution.

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 04/10/2009 - 01:28 pm.

    In the national & international news this week have been stories about the arctic ice sheet being the thinnest ever recorded & an enormous ice shelf breaking free of Antarctica. Where’s this global ‘cooling’ they’re talking about?

    On the weather v. climate thing; I recall during this winter’s cold snap that stretched unusually far south some climate change skeptics saying “where’s the global warming now?” Meanwhile, it was 40° in Barrow, Alaska – north of the Arctic circle.

  6. Submitted by david granneman on 04/10/2009 - 01:46 pm.

    many environmentalists talk about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
    when you hear them talking – ask them if they know how much of the atmosphere is made of carbon dioxide.
    they probably will not know so tell them it varies from about 350 to 400 parts/million.
    since this will not mean much to them – illustrate this with the following example.
    imagine the particles in our atmosphere as 100 dollars in pennys – 10,000 pennies
    carbon dioxide would be represented by 4 pennys out of 10,000
    then ask them if they know where the 4 pennys out of 10,000 comes from
    again they will not know so inform them of the following :
    2 pennys come from the oceans
    1 penny comes from land, everything from termites to volcanos
    1 penny comes from man’s activities, everything from suvs to power plants

    ASK THEM IF THEY THINK ONE PENNY OUT OF 10,000 WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE
    IS IT WORTH DESTROYING OUR PROSPERITY AND WAY OF LIFE. I DO NOT

  7. Submitted by david granneman on 04/10/2009 - 02:52 pm.

    if you want more information on the u.s. senate report regarding climate change here is the url

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.SenateReport

  8. Submitted by Glenn Mesaros on 04/10/2009 - 03:22 pm.

    Look at the hypocrisy of white environmentalists.

    They want no carbon imprint. They oppose nuclear power, which has no carbon imprint.

    They want solar power and windmills. They do not understand energy flux density: one ounce of uranium has the energy of one ton of coal. Nuclear power will generate energy when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow, and do it 1000 times more efficiently.

    They want to recycle everything but nuclear waste. If you recycle nuclear waste, you can make more nuclear power.

    They lie about the cost of nuclear power; yet, many different nuclear technologies are now available at many different costs.

    They are afraid of nuclear accidents. Nuclear industry has the safest record in the world. Nuclear powers aircraft carriers and submarines: do you hear the parents of those sailors whining about potential nuclear accidents?

    The environmentalists are pure hypocrits. They want to take their hot shower from nuclear power, but make damn sure the Africans don’t get any. They must only have “sustainable development”.

    Finland is just building its fifth nuclear power plant. France and Japan are 75 nuclear. do you see anyone protesting nuclear energy in France or Japan?

    If environmentalists were serious about global warming, they would demand crash nuclear power production.

    The problem is generational. In 25 years, most Americans will look back at these environmentalists and wonder what planet they lived on. Maybe Uranus.

  9. Submitted by Lance Groth on 04/10/2009 - 06:20 pm.

    Hmmm, well, a few comments in regard to some of the posts here.

    Deniers, and Dahl too in his video report, like to throw around statements about “scientists” – as in “many scientists look to the sun”, or “32000 scientists signed a petition.” Science is an enormous term. There are many specialties in science. Chemists, biologists, physicists, etc. Even meteorologists and climatologists. But the only science specialty that matters when talking about climate, is climatology. A geologist’s opinion on anthropogenic global warming is no more nor less important than that of the janitor who just emptied my trash can. A dentist is a medical practitioner, but he’s not a heart specialist, and I wouldn’t go to him with a heart problem. So cite unidentified “scientists” all you want – if they’re not climatologists, it doesn’t matter a rip what they say. That includes meteorologists, who as another poster pointed out, deal only with short term weather phenomena -what you see when you look out your window. Climatology is a matter of long periods of time, and it is climatologists who know what they’re talking about when speaking of climatology.

    And what do they say? 97% say current global warming is due, in large part, to human activity:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/01/19/eco.globalwarmingsurvey/index.html

    (The same survey also reveals that a majority of meterologists also agree with the climatologists.)

    As to CO2 being a small component of the atmosphere – indeed it is, and so what? Deniers like to talk about “1 penny in 10,000”, or a tiny percentage, as if that has anything to do with the chemical and thermal retention properties of the gas. This is childish thinking – just because a number seems small to you has nothing to do with its effect in nature. This is called lying with statistics. We can flip it around and play the same game by talking about how many billions of tons of gas that “tiny” component is. Billions of tons – that’s a big number – ooh, are you impressed? Neither argument matters. What matters is that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which by definition retains heat, and the amount in the atmosphere is sufficient to retain vast amounts of heat.

    Look at it this way – if it weren’t for the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, Earth would be an iceball. It is those gases, below a certain level, which keep Earth warm enough to be habitable. Above that same level, they will make of Earth a hell. You need only look to Venus to see what happens when there is runaway global warming due to excessive greenhouse gases.

    Finally – painting all environmentalists as having a monolithic viewpoint is divisive, and simply silly. I’m an environmentalist, have been all my life, and I am in favor of building as many nuke reactors as we can – precisely because it is climate-neutral. No less a greenie than James Lovelock, developer of the Gaia Hypothesis and one of the earliest and most strident of those who warn about global warming, also calls for construction of nuke plants in a “crash” program. Nuclear power was once a boogyman in the environmental movement, this is true – due to real problems like Chernobyl and 3 Mile Island and the issue of waste storage/recycling – and many have yet to come around, but attitudes are changing as it becomes apparent that anthropogenic global warming is a much greater and more urgent threat, and at the same time, nuclear technology has improved. So save your charges of hypocrisy. Unlike the Deniers, we environmentalists respect what science tells us, and are capable of learning as we go. Deniers are simply afraid – afraid of having to compromise on their lifestyle, afraid of having to contribute to the solution, afraid of nonexistent conspiracies – and so they lash out, and try to obfuscate the issue.

    Thankfully, with antiscience Bush/Cheney out of the picture and Obama in charge, the science will prevail as we develop policy. Let’s just hope it’s not too late (and if it is, that one of the geoengineering ideas being discussed will actually work, without creating more, even worse problems.)

  10. Submitted by gregory zurbay on 04/12/2009 - 10:35 pm.

    As global warming debate became contentious the nay sayers claimed that any temperature rise was “natural” – probably due to the propensity of sunspots. In the mean time the actual climate scientists have both demonstrated actual rises in global temps, as opposed to weather variation, and observed that computer models have likely been underestimating multiplier effects that will push the increase to a steeper curve. Now Dave Dahl, ( who is not a climate scientist ) throws out a statement about how things MIGHT be getting cooler. To check on NASA’s take on this lack of sunspots I went online and found that the reduction of sunspots “were not enough to reverse the course of global warming.” Space.com.

    I hear NASA saying a reduction in sunspot activity may “cool” — that means reduce the RATE of warming, but Dave Dahl’s story carries an statement the reader will likely infer that ‘things are cooling off.’

    If MinnPost is trying to build a reputation, your editor should have invited an actual NASA climate scientist to comment along side. My current impression is the corporate right is writing copy.

    If in fact the lack of sun spots is causing cooling and immense ice shelfs are breaking up, what’s going down when sunspot activity comes back to normal levels?

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