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Neal Abernathy, an employee with Family Thrift Center on Mountain View Road in Rapid City, clears snow at the entrance of the store during a snow storm in Rapid City, South Dakota, October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal Neal Abernathy, an employee with Family Thrift Center on Mountain View Road in Rapid City, clears snow at the entrance of the store during a snow storm in Rapid City, South Dakota, October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal  

Global cooling: Are we headed into a ‘little ice age?’

Global warming? More like global cooling, according to a leading U.K. scientist.

Professor Mike Lockwood from Reading University told the BBC that at the current rate of decline in solar activity, there is a risk that Northern Europe could become much colder and enter a new “Little Ice Age.”

The “Little Ice Age” refers to a period during the 1600s when winters were harsh all across Europe. The cold weather that plagued the continent coincided with an inactive sun, called the Maunder solar minimum.

Lockwood argues that during the late 20th century, the sun was unusually active, with the so-called “grand maximum” of solar activity occurring around 1985. But solar activity has decreased since then.

“By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, [Lockwood] has been able to determine how active the sun has been over thousands of years,” The BBC reports.” Following analysis of the data, Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.”

Based on these findings, Lockwood argues that there is an increased risk of a Maunder minimum; and a repeat of a “Dalton solar minimum,” which occurred in the early 1800s, is “more likely than not” to happen again.

“He believes that we are already beginning to see a change in our climate — witness the colder winters and poor summers of recent years — and that over the next few decades there could be a slide to a new Maunder minimum,” BBC reports, adding that harsh winters and cooler summers would become more frequent.

Lockwood’s research flies directly in the face of scientists who argue that human activities are causing the planet to heat up, commonly known as global warming. They argue that greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, trap heat in the planet, causing the Earth’s surface and oceans to warm.

“It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide,” according to the American Physical Society.

However, the globe has not significantly warmed in the last 15 years or so, leading some to criticize previous predictions made by climate scientists.

“[I]n attributing warming to man, they fail to point out that the warming has been small, and totally consistent with there being nothing to be alarmed about,” said Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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