The consensus may be moving away from global warming and towards global cooling: Scientists have been looking at different lines of evidence suggesting that the globe is in the midst of a slight cooling trend for at least the last decade or so.
Whether it’s decreasing sunspots or natural climate variations, some scientists are revisiting older theories from the 1960s and 1970s that the Earth is actually cooling off — bucking the mainstream consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet.
Here comes the sun
One line of evidence scientists look at for clues into global cooling is sunspot activity. Low sunspot activity has historically been linked with colder periods in human history such as the period known as the “Little Ice Age” during the 1600s. Higher levels of sunspot activity have been linked to warmer periods like the one from the 1970s to the late 1990s.
Solar activity is now falling faster than any other period in the last 10,000 years, and some researchers have suggested that the planet could cool off in the coming decades.
“By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, [Professor Mike Lockwood of Reading University] 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.”
“When we have had periods where the sun has been quieter than usual we tend to get these much harsher winters,” Sunderland University climate scientist Dennis Wheeler told the Daily Express.
This is not necessarily a new discovery, as scientists have been pointing to rapidly falling solar activity for some time now. Last year, Russian scientists said that the world could soon plunge into 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 U.K.’s Lockwood also told the BBC that falling sunspot activity raises the risk of entering a new Little Ice Age “from less than 10 percent just a few years ago to 25-30 percent.”
“So the warming we saw, which lasted only from 1978 to 1998, is something that is predictable and expectable,” said Don Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University. “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.”
The United Nation’s climate bureaucracy, however, downplayed the role of solar activity in influencing the Earth’s climate. A recent study from U.K. scientists found that “neither changes in the activity of the Sun, nor its impact in blocking cosmic rays, can be a significant contributor to global warming.”
El Niño or La Niña?
Another line of evidence that could suggest the planet is in a cooling trend comes from natural climate cycles.
A recent study by Dr. Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama, Huntsville found that about half the warming that occurred since the 1970s can be attributed to El Niño weather events which had a warming effect on the planet.
“As a result, because as much as 50 percent of the warming since the 1970s could be attributed to stronger El Niño activity, it suggests that the climate system is only about half as sensitive to increasing CO2 as previously believed,” Spencer said.
As The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported, the Pacific Ocean’s natural warming and cooling cycles last about 30 years. La Niña cooling events were dominant from the 1950s to the 1970s, while El Niño warming events were dominant from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.
Spencer’s study suggests that the globe may be experiencing a cooling period — explaining the the lack of warming since 1998. There have been four La Niña years since 1998 and only two El Niño years.
“We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped,” said Professor Anastasios Tsonis of the University of Wisconsin.
In August, another study concluded that La Niña cooling activity was behind the 15-year pause in global warming.
“Our results show that the current hiatus [in global warming] is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling,” reads the study by scientists Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie.
Scientists have been scrambling to explain the 15-year absence of global warming, with some arguing that the excess carbon dioxide has been stored in the world’s oceans. The U.N. climate authority, however, argued that a 15-year hiatus does not mean global warming has gone away as this time period is too short to come to any firm conclusions.
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