Much to the chagrin of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats in Washington pushing for massive taxes on greenhouse gas emissions, the Midwest and Northeast United States has been experiencing uncooperatively cold temperatures this past summer.
New York City did not top 85 degrees last month for only the third time ever, Chicago just had its coolest month of June in 40 years, and Boston is already predicting the coming winter to be the snowiest in at least 8 years.
We’ve all heard the stories about the coming carbon dioxide caused global warming disaster that was going to melt the ice sheets, transform much of the surface of the earth into uninhabitable desert, and raise the oceans by 50 feet in the next 100 years or so.
And yet it is July and many Americans are already referring to this as the “year without true summer”. Regardless of what Al Gore says, it’s kind of hard to ignore your own senses that tell you that temperatures are definitely not rising.
Along with the cooler temperatures, public opinion is turning against global warming. According Gallup polls, the percentage of Americans who believe global warming poses a danger to the country has dropped from a high of 66% in 2006 to 57% in March 2009, with more doubters every day.
Unfortunately for Democrats, global warming is much more complicated science than what their theories predict. The greatest contributing factor to global temperatures isn’t atmospheric carbon dioxide, it’s the sun. The sun’s release of energy has natural variations and it is currently in a state known as solar minimum; the lowest energy output by the sun as it oscillates through an approximate 11 year cycle of activity, also known as the Schwabe cycle. This is the primary reason for the colder than normal temperatures recorded across the country this summer.
Schwabe cycles are measured by the number of sunspots, dark “patches” on the sun’s surface which indicate underlying magnetic activity, which can act as a rough measure of the total energy output by the sun. More sunspots mean a more active sun, which consequently gives off more radiation to heat the earth; fewer sunspots mean lower energy output by the sun and a cooler planet.
During a typical year one might expect to record anywhere from 60 up to more than 150 sunspots during solar maximum, with many lasting for days. In 2008 only about a total of30 sunspots were recorded including 266 days with no sunspots at all visible on the sun’s surface, a trend that continues to this very day. It’s been described as the “the quietest sun we’ve seen in almost a century,” by David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
In addition to a lack of sunspots, recent measurements indicate a 50-year low in solar wind pressure and a 12-year low in solar brightness.
In 1991 Danish meteorologists Eigil Friis-Christensen and Knud Lassen published a highly referenced paper titled “Length of the Solar Cycle: An Indicator of Solar Activity Closely Associated with Climate.” They pointed out the strong correlation between the length of the Schwabe solar cycle and global mean temperatures. They noted that longer cycles of 12-14 years produced cooler global temperatures and short 9-10 year cycles led to warmer climates.
A New York Times review of the paper said “While the correlation established by Dr. Friis-Christensen and Dr. Lassen falls short of definite proof, a number of scientists nevertheless called it remarkable in its close fit between the solar and temperature trends.”
The last solar minimum occurred in 1996, which means the current cycle, already the deepest in almost 100 years, will have a length of at least 13 years indicating cooler global temperatures to come.
An extreme example of the correlation between solar activity and Earth temperature occurred between 1645 and 1715 during the Maunder Minimum, a 70 year period characterized by a nearly complete absence of sunspots which coincided with the “Little Ice Age” in Europe, a time of especially long and cold winters.
Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona has been tracking a jet stream deep inside the sun. According to recent scientific theory, once the stream reaches a specific latitude, which it is now approaching, it may be an indication of the onset of a new cycle of sunspot activity. However, there is no way to predict exactly when this will occur. While the sun’s activity may pick up in the next 6 to 12 months, it is just as likely the sun will remain in a quiet state for a good deal longer.
In addition to the 11 year Schwabe cycle, there have also been detected a 22 year Hale, 80 year Gleissberg, 200 year Suess, and 2,300 year Halstatt cycles of solar activity.
The 200 year Suess cycle is expected to reach minimum around 2040, leading Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg to predict a long lasting, gradual decrease in global temperatures over the next century, regardless of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The primary effect solar cycles can have on the earth illustrates one of the biggest problems with global warming proponents. Computer models, often presented as irrefutable evidence for global warming, often ignore factors which have a much greater impact on global temperature than carbon dioxide concentration.
It also begs the question: Even if carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, what does it matter if the earth is cooling 5X faster because of the sun?
The great irony here is it is entirely possible that President Obama and congressional Democrats will impose massive new energy taxes on the nation in a misguided effort to combat global warming, while at the same time the earth is barreling towards another little ice age.
Fred Dardick is the owner and operator of a medical staffing company based in Chicago. Prior to the business world, he worked as a biological researcher at various highly regarded universities in the United States. Fred can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org