31 May 08 - (Excerpts) You probably haven't heard much of Solar
Cycle 24, the current cycle that our sun has entered, and I hope you
don't … Solar Cycle 24 could mark a time of profound long-term change in
As put by geophysicist Philip Chapman, a former
NASA astronaut-scientist and former president of the National Space
Society, "It is time to put aside the global warming dogma, at least to
begin contingency planning about what to do if we are moving into
another little ice age."
The sun, of late, is remarkably free of eruptions:
It has lost its spots. By this point in the solar cycle, sunspots would
ordinarily have been present in goodly numbers. Today's spotlessness -
what alarms Dr. Chapman and others - may be an anomaly of some kind, and
the sun may soon revert to form. But if it doesn't - and with each
passing day, the speculation in the scientific community grows that it
will not - we could be entering a new epoch that few would welcome.
… In 1128, an English monk, John of Worcester, was the first person
known to have drawn sunspots, and after the telescope's arrival in the
early 1600s, observations and drawings became commonplace, including by
such luminaries as Galileo Galilei. Then, to the astonishment of
astronomers, they saw the sunspots diminish and die out altogether.
This was the case during the Little Ice Age, a period starting in the
15th or 16th century and lasting centuries, says NASA's Goddard Space
Centre, which links the absence of sunspots to the cold that then
descended on Earth. During the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, a
time known as the Maunder Minimum (named after English astronomer Edward
Maunder), astronomers saw only about 50 sunspots over a 30-year period,
less than one half of 1% of the sunspots that would normally have been
expected. Other Minimums - times of low sunspot activity - also
corresponded to times of unusual cold.
The consequences of the Little Ice Age, because they occurred in
relatively recent times, have come down to us through literature and the
arts as well as from historians and scientists, government and business
Glaciers advanced rapidly in Greenland, Iceland,
Scandinavia and North America, making vast tracts of land uninhabitable.
The Arctic pack ice extended so far south that several reports describe
Eskimos landing their kayaks in Scotland. Finland's population fell by
one-third, Iceland's by half, the Viking colonies in Greenland were
abandoned altogether, as were many Inuit communities. The cold in North
America spread so far south that, in the winter of 1780, New York Harbor
froze, enabling people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island.
… Since 1900, Earth has experienced what astronomers call "the Modern
Maximum" - the 20th century has again been a time of high sunspot
But the 1900s are gone, along with the high temperatures that
accompanied them. The last 10 years have seen no increase in
temperatures - they reached a plateau and then remained there - and the
last year saw a precipitous decline.
But many are watching the sun for answers ... Several renowned
scientists have been predicting for some time that the world could enter
a period of cooling right around now, with consequences that could be
dire. "The next little ice age would be much worse than the previous one
and much more harmful than anything warming may do," believes Dr.
Chapman. "There are many more people now and we have become dependent on
a few temperate agricultural areas, especially in the U.S. and Canada.
Global warming would increase agricultural output, but global cooling
will decrease it."
We are now at the beginning of Solar Cycle 24, so named because it is
the 24th consecutive cycle that astronomers have listed, starting with
the first cycle that began in March, 1755, and ended in June, 1766. Each
cycle lasts an average of approximately 11 years; each is marked by
sunspots that first erupt in the mid latitudes of the sun, and then,
over the course of the 11 years, erupt progressively toward the sun's
equator; each is marked by a change in the polarity of the sun's
hemispheres; each changes the temperature on Earth in ways that humans
don't fully understand, but cannot in all honesty deny.
See entire article:
Thanks to Tom Weatherby for this link