Global Cooling FTW?
Because it turns out that even the Sun has gone into a lockdown 'recession'. Or, more accurately, a deep period of 'solar minimum'.
Which means that the activity on the Sun's surface has fallen dramatically, and its magnetic field has become weaker, letting into the environment more of the sort of cosmic rays that cause dramatic lightning storms and interfere with astronauts and space hardware.
They can also can lead to the explosion of 'sprites' — clusters of orange and red lights that shoot out of the top of thunderstorms like 60-mile-high palm trees in the sky.
Oh yes, and on top of all that, theoretically it could cause the temperature on Earth to drop to potentially catastrophic new lows.
While the Met Office and members of the Royal Astronomical Society are urging us not to panic and reminding us that this is just nature, nothing to worry about and the sort of thing that happens every 11 years or so as the Sun passes through its activity cycle, some doom-and-gloomers are much less optimistic.
Perhape they're haunted by the extreme 'solar minimum' thought to have contributed to the so-called Little Ice Age in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the temperatures fell so low the River Thames froze over, crops failed, lightning storms lit up the skies, and — in 1816 — the weather was so crazy that it snowed in July.
As we all know, the Sun — which is 4.5 billion years old and more than a million times bigger than the Earth — is not only a source of cheer when it finally pops out from behind the clouds, it also keeps us all alive.
Which means that the teeniest change in its activity levels can have extraordinary consequences — triggering lightning storms, the appearance or disappearance of the Northern Lights and those amazing sprites.
But the Sun's activity is changing constantly as it passes through its regular cycle, from solar maximum (hottest and most active) to solar minimum (quieter and cooler).
Since the 17th century, scientists have been measuring the depth of a solar minimum by counting the 'sunspots' — areas of magnetic activity on the solar surface which show up as relatively dark spots — and solar flares, large explosions that hurl charged particles into space.
The general rule is the fewer the sunspots, the more severe the minimum and the higher the chances of lightning storms, sprites and disruption on Earth.
So far this year, the Sun has been 'blank' — with no sunspots — 76 per cent of the time. A figure surpassed just once since the Fifties, last year, when it was 77 per cent blank.
So could we be heading for a grand solar minimum, a sustained period — decades, even centuries — of particularly weak solar cycles? Are we now — on top of everything else — facing another mini ice age?
As far as I can tell, this is in line with mathematical modeling predictions made by one Prof. Valentina Zharkova years ago. She argued that the Sun was entering a period of prolonged diminished activity, similar to the one that caused the 70-year Maunder Minimum in the 17th Century, and that this period would begin in 2020 and carry on through 2030.
She stated that the 11-year solar cycles that affect the strength of the Sun's magnetic field, and therefore directly affect the rate at which cosmic radiation bombards Earth and generates cloud formations, which in turn affect the Earth's overall mean temperature as well as continental, regional, and local climactic fluctuations, would cancel each other out.
And she stated, back in 2017, that she hoped that man-made global warming would cancel out the potential effects of solar cooling and prevent that Ice Age.
That appears to be a possibly forlorn hope right now, because human activity contributes a grand total of about three percent to the entire annual generation of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Seriously. THREE PERCENT. That's it. That's all that 7.4 billion or so humans contribute, in total, to atmospheric CO2.
Indeed, CO2 isn't even the most powerful greenhouse gas around. Its overall effect on climate is evidently quite weak. There are far stronger greenhouse gases out there, such as methane, and it is on those gases that the latest research is focused.
The working theory that a significant number of climate scientists have is that global warming will result in the melting of frozen methane pockets and lakes, which will result in huge releases of methane all over the world, which will then cause the Earth to tip over a "climate cliff" right into oblivion, into runaway global warming that will destroy human civilisation.
Turns out, that prediction about methane is very likely to be wrong too:
Researchers at the University of Rochester in New York studied methane emissions from a period in Earth's history which bears many similarities to our current climate, examining ice cores taken from the last period of deglaciation some 8,000 to 15,000 years ago.
By closely examining air samples extracted from these frozen ice cores, the researchers found that even if the methane in these vast stores is released, it won't actually reach our atmosphere.
“Our data shows we don't need to be as concerned about large methane releases from large carbon reservoirs in response to future warming,” said Vasily Petrenko, a professor of Earth and environmental sciences at Rochester. “We should be more concerned about methane released from human activities."
When carbon-based life (plants and animals) decays, the remains freeze and the carbon contained within becomes trapped in the permafrost seen across regions including vast swathes of Siberia, Alaska and northern Canada.
Later, when the water in this permafrost melts, the soil becomes waterlogged and creates the ideal breeding ground for microbes that consume the newly-thawed carbon and produce methane.
Meanwhile, in the oceans, methane hydrates – formed under immense pressures at low temperatures – are found in sediments on the ocean floor along the subaquatic borders of the continents. If ocean temperatures rise, the current theory goes, these hydrates will destabilize and release the methane gas into the atmosphere, wreaking havoc around the globe.
The team took ice core samples from the Earth's past to see just how much methane from these ancient deposits is actually released during periods of warming, and found that the actual amount of emissions from ancient carbon reservoirs was quite small.
“The likelihood of these old carbon reservoirs destabilizing and creating a large positive warming feedback in the present day is also low,” said Michael Dionysus, a graduate student involved in the research.
The usual alarmism about "human activity" with respect to methane and carbon dioxide can be found all over these articles and the scientific research. It seems that this is the standard disclaimer that has to be attached to any and all climate research these days, in order to avoid getting one's funding cancelled.
So, what is actually likely to happen? Global warming? Global cooling? Global WTF?
Well, if you go by scientific consensus - note, this is NOT SCIENCE - then you will quickly realise that the general consensus has pretty much always been in favour of global warming, even during the period from 1965 to 1979, when the mainstream media was hyping the possibility of global cooling:
The global cooling hype got so, uh, heated - sorry for the pun - that a documentary narrated by Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy, was produced in which the strong and sober voice of the great Vulcan science officer explained that scientists were worried that the world would experience a new Ice Age.
So... again, which is it?
The actual science - not the consensus, the SCIENCE - is unable to provide much of a picture on this subject.
Virtually every modeled prediction of global warming has proven to be spectacularly wrong. The most accurate models more or less correctly predicted total concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, but failed completely to predict the actual amounts of warming. Every single one of the models going back to 1979 predicted more warming than has actually manifested.
Anyone with an ounce of sense could tell you that models of complex interdisciplinary phenomena are EXTREMELY difficult to get right. Whether we are looking at climatological, financial, or virological models, virtually every single one of the loss-severity models that are considered "gold standard" in each of those realms are highly unstable, unreliable, and inaccurate.
And that is because virtually every one of them depends on built-in assumptions that are untested and unproven, and often wildly ridiculous.
It is bad enough that we trust scientists to inform us when they themselves are no better than three blind men describing an elephant through touch. It is far, FAR worse when we give power to politicians to act on the basis of scientific advice that is reliably wrong.
A far better and more sensible heuristic is to gauge the likely outcomes of the future based on whether or not modeled predictions came to pass.
This is a much more reliable approach because it takes into account what actually happened. And what actually happened, in the case of the world's climate, is that no statistically significant warming was observed using satellite data after 1998 in the atmosphere, and that surface temperature records have proven to be highly unreliable at best.
Furthermore, every single prediction made by the climate alarmists in the 1990s and early 2000s has completely failed to come to pass.
Which means that we can argue with likely in excess of 98% certainty that they are totally wrong about global warming, and that the world's climate is likely to cool significantly over the next few hundred to thousand years.
The reason for this is a combination of solar magnetodynamics and the Earth's orbit around the Sun.
We know that the Earth "wobbles" very slightly on its own axis of rotation. Given the size of the Earth, this axial wobble absolutely has an influence on the Earth's climate, because it means that slightly more of one hemisphere is exposed to sunlight at any given point in time relative to the previous year. This has profound effects on ice formation across the Earth's surface.
This, combined with the fact that the Earth has an elliptical, not circular, orbit around the Sun, and the fact that this ellipsoidal orbit is itself subject to very small but profoundly influential fluctuations, has a strong knock-on effect on whether the Earth is in an Ice Age or not.
These phenomena are captured in the research of a Serbian geophysicist and astronomer named Milutin Milankovich, whose Milankovich Cycles describe how the Earths' surface temperature is affected by these axial and orbital wobbles.
Unlike garbage-in-garbage-out modeling, of which we are afflicted with far too much, Milankovich Cycles can be statistically modeled and replicated and simulated with very high degrees of accuracy, because ice core data match the mathematical equations extremely closely.
As the Infogalactic article points out, there are problems with the explanatory power of these cycles, which are well known.
But when you combine the information about the Sun's extended period of reduced activity with the massive failures of climate modeling to correctly predict serious global warming and the current state of the Milankovich Cycles, we are actually in for an extended period of overall cooling, interspersed by periods of relative warmth.
The last Ice Age ended about 10,000 years ago, more or less. During that time, vast mile-thick sheets of ice covered much of North America. What we would know of today as Manhattan was buried under a sheet of ice roughly half a mile thick. That is the degree to which these changes in solar output and terrestrial axial and orbital movements affect global climate.
The presence of humans is, at best, a footnote to these changes, and will continue to be so for millennia. To think otherwise, in the face of continued failed predictions, absurdly mismanaged modeling, statistical evidence, and simple common bloody sense, is arrogant in the extreme. We are simply too small and too irrelevant to contribute much of anything in the face of a planet with extremely powerful feedback and smoothing mechanisms designed to deal rather well with shocks to current equilibrium states.
It is almost as if the world we live on was... shall we say, DESIGNED to deal with the presence of flawed, Fallen, and broken stupid ape-like children that do idiotic things and soil themselves and everything around them.
But that is a discussion for another time.