Saturday, May 19, 2012
Time To Act on Global Cooling
A commenter on WattsUpWithThat.com, Pamela Gray, stated that:
“I wish some skeptics would not refer to the “most likely cause” being solar. There is as yet no mechanism. The solar influence is a wild-arse guess as much as CO2 is and does not improve the debate in the least.” [this refers to global warming and cooling]
My response is below:
Do we actually need a proven, causal mechanism before it is prudent to act? We can look to the ancient past, when humans had no clue why the sun rose in the East and set in the West. They had no clue why it became cold each winter, but was warm enough to grow crops each summer. They (we believe, at least I believe) figured out the correlation, though. Warm summer equals “plant the crops, and food will grow.” Would it sound silly, to be in a village council meeting thousands of years ago, and argue that we should not plant crops in the Spring because there was no causal mechanism to guarantee the warm summer would follow?
In my recent (see here) speech to the chemical engineers in Southern California, I made the point that we have excellent correlations over hundreds of years that show weak sunspot cycles produce global cooling. In fact (I did not emphasize this, though), we have evidence that very weak or non-existent sunspot cycles produce extreme cold. The opposite is also true: strong sunspot cycles produce warming, while modest sunspot cycles produce an intermediate temperature.. It is apparent, at least to me, that the late 20th century warming could be attributed to the combined warm ocean cycles with strong sunspot cycles – with no need for CO2 to be considered. The engineers in my audience, a very skeptical bunch, tried to refute the line of evidence before them. This is what engineers do (not limited to engineers, however, as many others also do this.) I also have tried my best to refute this. I stated in my speech that I could be wrong, and indeed, I hope I am wrong. Catastrophic global cooling is not something to take lightly.
But, the fact remains that, once again, we have a cold Pacific Ocean, and a weak sunspot cycle at this time. Experts are saying that this sunspot cycle will be the weakest in many decades. That is an appeal to authority, I realize. However, as a good skeptic, I checked their claim and found it to be true. If, as predicted, the current sunspot cycle peaks at approximately 60, that will indeed make it the weakest since approximately 1800. (see figures 20 and 21 here.)
Therefore, we have (as I presently see it), a cooling globe, a cold Pacific Ocean, a weaker than normal sunspot cycle, yet CO2 continues to increase by approximately 2 or 3 percent each year. Something, clearly, has stopped the warming, and started the cooling. Very few things can account for this: perhaps the CO2 has disappeared? No. Perhaps large volcanoes have erupted, placing reflecting aerosols in the atmosphere? No, we would have noticed this. Perhaps the sun’s total irradiance has decreased dramatically? No, we have ways to measure this and that did not happen. Perhaps all or most of the polar ice melted, which cooled the oceans, and that cooled the land? No, we certainly would have noticed this also. Have the polar ice, or land-based glaciers, grown dramatically so that more of the sun’s energy is reflected away? No, although that would cause a cooling. Is there too much soot from coal-burning, or other industrial air pollutants that also increase albedo? Possibly, although that seems remote. Then, what is left?
What can explain the inflection point in the global temperature curve from approximately 2000 until now?
I maintain that now is an excellent time to re-frame the debate, and focus our considerable abilities and energies (as a whole, a society) to answering that question. If it indeed turns out that a weak sunspot cycle and simultaneous cold ocean cycle produce catastrophic cold, we are going to look rather silly in about 10 or 20 years time. Our children, when grown, will figure this out and ask, Why didn’t the scientists make the connection between sunspot cycles and cold? They had ample evidence from the past. Why didn’t someone sound the alarm, and take prudent steps to try to prepare for the bitter and prolonged cold?
No, I believe ancient man went about their agricultural activities right on schedule, each Spring. When the ground was warm enough, they plowed or stuck seeds in the earth. We even have the Stonehenge as a (possible) example, with the stones aligned so the Spring Equinox could be known to the exact day. They didn’t need a proven causal mechanism to act.
Neither do we.
Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California