The primary claim of the worshipers at the Church of Manmade Global Warming is that the activities of mankind, particularly those that involve burning fossil fuels for energy, are quickly increasing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will lead to catastrophic global warming. Generally, the more fervent the worshipers, the more catastrophic the predictions in impending catastrophe unless We Do Something Right Now.
In recent months, the global cooling trend that started in the early 2000s has accelerated. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have decoupled from global temperatures, still increasing as the global temperatures decrease. If carbon dioxide – whatever its source – were the cause of global temperature changes, it wouldn’t continue to increase while things get colder. This is the reason that the worshipers are now changing the discussion from Manmade Global Warming to Manmade Climate Change.
So the natural world is not responding like the predictive climate models is saying it ought to respond. Rather than rushing right out and passing cap and trade legislation, cancelling clean air permits for coal fired electricity plants, cancelling offshore oil and natural gas leases, you would think that the decision makers would take a few minutes and contemplate why the climate is doing the opposite of their predictions. The fact that they have chosen to double down and change the name of their church is in itself a demonstration that this is more of a faith based than a scientific exercise, at least at the federal level.
So why are things cooling down? One answer would be to take a look at a very, very quiet sun over the last three years. Solar activity correlates closely with historic warm and cold times over the last 500 years, which is only as long as people have had the ability to observe sunspots. There was an 85-year long period from 1645 – 1715 called the Maunder Minimum with very few observed sunspots. In one 30-year long period during the time, there were only 50 sunspots observed, as compared with 40,000 – 50,000 sunspots over a similar recent period during a time of active sun. The Maunder Minimum also centered on an extended period of time called the Little Ice Age, where global temperatures were many degrees colder than recent years. Times of solar quiet correlate very well with significantly colder climates than in recent years. Do a search under the names Sporer, Dalton and Maunder Minimums for additional information.
So why does anyone care about any of this? Well because the sun has gone very quiet over the last few years. One way to measure this is with the number of spot-free days. The more spot-free days, the quieter the sun and the greater the danger of some very, very cold weather in the very near future. Last year was the most spot free days since 1913. 2007 was almost as bad, and it appears that 2009 will be even worse. Some solar astronomers are starting to talk about a reprise of the Dalton Minimum unless things start picking up.
We may be on the verge of making significant public policy changes to combat the mythical specter of Manmade Global Warming precisely at the point where we ought to be figuring out how to stay warm during a time of significant global cooling. Carbon dioxide is our friend. The plants need it. In some small way, it helps keep us warm. And atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are only about one third of their historic levels. This is not the time to designate it as a poison or pollutant.
Solar activity – specifically the lack of it – is the real looming problem. And mankind didn’t cause any of it.