About that sun thing

Via Ace of Spades HQ[*1] , an article in The Australian[*2] .  That article ends with:

We cannot really know, but my guess is that the odds are at least 50-50 that we will see significant cooling rather than warming in coming decades.

The probability that we are witnessing the onset of a real ice age is much less, perhaps one in 500, but not totally negligible.

All those urging action to curb global warming need to take off the blinkers and give some thought to what we should do if we are facing global cooling instead.

It will be difficult for people to face the truth when their reputations, careers, government grants or hopes for social change depend on global warming, but the fate of civilisation may be at stake.

In the famous words of Oliver Cromwell, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

The tagline for the author reads:

Phil Chapman is a geophysicist and astronautical engineer who lives in San Francisco. He was the first Australian to become a NASA astronaut.

Now I’m not exactly of the opinion that two opposite histrionically apocolyptic climate visions necessarily are better than one, but I belive that Chapman’s use of the Cromwell quote is well-taken.

I tend to be a bit of a contrarian about many things scientific (diet and climate being two significant examples).  All the experts tell me that starving myself and eatling a low-fat diet will make me thinner and more healthy.  They are wrong.  What starving myself and eating low-fat does is make me go out and binge uncontrollably.  I don’t do that nearly so much when I’m low-carbing religiously.  And we understand climate processes even less than we understand human biochemistry.  So I hope you forgive my huge dose of (metaphorical) salt I take with every single scientific pronouncement that comes out today.

If you haven’t clicked through to the article in The Australian, the punch line is that the next sunspot cycle, numbered #24, is late.  Some scientists look at this as the reason why global temperatures haven’t decreased significantly since the late 1980’s (didn’t know that, didja?)   Why should you care?  From the article:

The reason this matters is that there is a close correlation between variations in the sunspot cycle and Earth’s climate. The previous time a cycle was delayed like this was in the Dalton Minimum, an especially cold period that lasted several decades from 1790.

Northern winters became ferocious: in particular, the rout of Napoleon’s Grand Army during the retreat from Moscow in 1812 was at least partly due to the lack of sunspots.

The only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know everything.  Not even close.

If we really, really had to, we could do something about a long-term warming trend of the Earth’s temperatures.  Build a system of giant space umbrellas to help reflect the Sun’s energy, if all else fails.  Could we do that?  Absolutely, if life on Earth–or even Western Civilization–was really in the balance.  We could do it fast, too.  IF WE HAD TO.

But if the Sun really cools down significantly, there’s just not a whole hell of a lot we’re going to be able to do to keep the glaciers from rolling again, except move south.  The good news is that all those coastal cities won’t be flooded.  The bad news is that all of those coastal cities we’re worried about flooding out with Climate Change (well, those cities that aren’t under hundreds of feet of ice) will quickly become landlocked, inland cities.


More science, please.