Is there a new scientific consensus forming around global cooling? That’s what environmentalist Lawrence Solomon writes in the Financial Post, citing the fact that solar activity is decreasing at the fastest rate as anytime in the last 10,000 years.
“Now an increasing number of scientists are swinging back to the thinking of the 1960s and 1970s,” Solomon writes. “The global cooling hypothesis may have been right after all, they say. Earth may be entering a new Little Ice Age.”
Solomon adds that Columbia University’s George Kukla — who warned the U.S. government about the dangers of global cooling in 1972 — postulated that “[g]lobal warming always precedes an ice age… The warming we saw in the 1980s and 1990s, in other words, was expected all along, much as the calm before the storm.”
Recently, scientists have been looking to solar activity as a predictor of world climate. Low solar activity has been connected with cold periods in human history, while high levels of solar activity have been connected with warming periods, like the recent one from the 1950s to 1998.
The United Nation’s climate authority has tried to downplay the influence of solar activity on the Earth’s climate, but climate scientists have been more assertive that the sun plays a role in affecting global temperatures.
“Attention in the public debate seems to be moving away from the 15-17 year ‘pause’ to the cooling since 2002,” writes Dr. Judith Curry, the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Curry describes the period since 2002 as “scientifically interesting” because “it coincides with the ‘climate shift'” of roughly 2001-02. “This shift and the subsequent slight cooling trend provides a rationale for inferring a slight cooling trend over the next decade or so, rather than a flat trend from the 15 [year] ‘pause’,” she added.
Earlier this year, Professor Cliff Ollier of the School of Earth and Environmental Studies at the University of Western Australia presented a study that posited that the sun was a major controller of the climate.
“There is a very good correlation of sunspots and climate,” Ollier wrote. “Solar cycles provide a basis for prediction. Solar Cycle 24 has started and we can expect serious cooling. Many think that political decisions about climate are based on scientific predictions but what politicians get are projections based on computer models.”
Last year, Russian scientists also posited that from next year onward the world could expect the start of the another Little Ice Age.
“After the maximum of solar cycle 24, from approximately 2014 we can expect the start of deep cooling with a Little Ice Age in 2055,” wrote Habibullo Abdussamatov of the Russian Academy of Science.
The “Little Ice Age” occurred during the 1600s when winters were harsh all across Europe. The continent-wide cold weather coincided with an inactive sun, called the Maunder solar minimum.
Recently, the BBC reported that Professor Mike Lockwood of the Reading University estimates that at the current rate of decline in solar activity, Northern Europe could plunge into another “Little Ice Age.”
“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.”
A debate over whether or not the globe is warming or cooling has actually ensued in the U.K., with the government recently declaring that the world is not cooling.
“The slow changes in the Earth’s orbit are not, however, expected to cause any net global cooling over the next several centuries, which will be dominated by a warming global climate due to greenhouse gas emissions,” reads a recent report to the UK’s House of Lords.
However, the record-level growth of Arctic sea ice coverage and the recent record-low cold snap in Chile may have some doubting that the global is warming as rapidly as some in the environmental movement argue.
“The last 400 years we’ve been thawing out of the Little Ice Age, if you like,” said Don Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University.
“So the warming we saw, which lasted only from 1978 to 1998, is something that is predictable and expectable,” he added. “When the ocean changed temperatures, global cooling is almost a slam dunk. You can expect to find about 25 to 30 years yet ahead of us before it starts to warm up again. It might even be more than that.”
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