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Is 'climate change' nudging us closer to a new ice age? by Kirk Myers,
Thursday, January 14th 2010, 9:55 AM UTC
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
As large swaths of the Northern Hemisphere – from the eastern half of North America to Europe, Asia and India – shiver through a big freeze, global warming diehards insist the onslaught of cold weather is an anomaly and warmer temperatures, driven by man-made CO2 and the greenhouse effect, will return with a vengeance.

But several well-known scientists – adherents of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory – are dismissing, at least in the near term, dire predictions of soaring global temperatures.

Bolstering the climate-change-is-natural argument, Professor Mojib Latif, an author for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said that recent fluctuations in ocean currents in the North Atlantic (Arctic Oscillation) may signal cooler temperatures ahead, perhaps for the next 30 years.

"For the time being, global warming has paused, and there may well be some cooling," Latif said, although he stressed the lull is only temporary and may be masking the ongoing effects of man-caused global warming.

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"The natural variation [of ocean currents] occurs side by side with the manmade warming. Sometimes it has a cooling effect and can offset this warming and other times it can accelerate it," he explained.

In a New York Times interview last year, NASA solar physicist David Hathaway said the earth’s climate could enter a cold phase if the lull in solar activity, characterized by low sunspot numbers and a weak geomagnetic field, over the past three years continues through the current solar cycle. (Changes in solar geomagnetic activity are thought to influence earth’s climate.)

If the sun remains in its sleepy state, we could see a replay of the Dalton Minimum (a period of very low solar activity when sunspots numbers peaked at only 50), which occurred two centuries ago, Hathaway told the Times.

During the Dalton Minimum (1790 - 1830), global temperatures plummeted, resulting in the “Year Without a Summer” in 1816. The abnormally cold weather destroyed crops in northern Europe, the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Historian John D. Post called it "the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world.”

Many scientists believe solar activity is earth’s major climate driver, while citing other causes such as ocean currents, volcanic eruptions, undersea geothermal activity, and small fluctuations in the earth’s orbit and tilt.

Recent monitoring of solar activity shows that sunspots have declined both in numbers and strength. In a paper published last year in the American Geophysical Union's EAO magazine, astronomers Dr. William Livingston and Dr. Matthew Penn reported that “the magnetic field strength in sunspots [was] decreasing with time, independent of the sunspot cycle."

“Whether this is an omen of long- term sunspot decline, analogous to the Maunder Minimum [a very cold period during the Little Ice Age], remains to be seen. Other indicators of the solar activity cycle suggest that sunspots must return in earnest within the next year,” they wrote.

Geophysicist Phillip Chapman, a former NASA astronaut-scientist and president of the National Space Society, says the sun’s spotlessness could be temporary, but if the muted activity continues, it may be a sign of much colder times ahead.

"The next Little Ice Age would be much worse than the previous one and much more harmful than anything warming may do,” Chapman says. “It is time to put aside the global warming dogma, at least to begin contingency planning . . . .”

During the Maunder Minimum, in the depth of the Little Ice Age, hundreds of thousands of people in Europe died from starvation when the climate turned rainy and cold and cut short the growing season.

"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," Chapman says.

Robert Felix, author of "Not by Fire but by Ice" and host of, notes that mankind has enjoyed a relatively warm climate during the past 11,500 years – the recent interglacial period (Holocene Epoch) – but is now on the brink of a new ice age.

Glacial periods over the past 800,000 years have occurred about every 100,000 years, interspersed with interglacial stretches that last about 12,000 years. Ice core research shows the transition from a warm to cold climate can be very abrupt.

Ice samples, some as old as 200,000 years, from the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) show the earth slipping quickly from periods of warmth into full-fledged glacial severity in less than 20 years, Felix says.

“We’re being told there’s global warming, but I think we’re headed in the other direction . . . we’re right on the precipice of the next ice age. When it happens, we’ll be fighting in the streets for food long before we’re covered by ice.”

Despite mounting evidence of global cooling, AGW alarmists cling steadfastly to their claim that man-made CO2 is triggering a runaway greenhouse effect and rising global temperatures. But the same Casandras almost never mention water vapor – by far the most abundant greenhouse gas – and its dominate role in the atmosphere. Compared to water vapor, the CO2 contribution to the greenhouse effect from human activity is negligible – about 0.117 percent.

Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says the influence of human-induced CO2 emissions on climate is vastly overstated.

“Saying the climate system is completely dominated by how much carbon dioxide we have in the system is crazy – completely wrong . . . Carbon dioxide is not the major driver for the earth-climate system.”

Soon is among a growing number of skeptics who disagree with alarmists who say the “science is settled” and the earth is warming – claims they continue to make even as many regions of the Northern Hemisphere freeze in sub-zero temperatures and dig out from record-setting blizzards, further evidence, skeptics say, of a cooling trend that began nine years ago.

Geophysicist David Deming, an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis and an associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma, calls global warming a “fraud.”

“To the extent global warming was ever valid, it is now officially over. It is time to file this theory in the dustbin of history, next to Aristotelean physics, Neptunism, the geocentric universe, phlogiston, and a plethora of other incorrect scientific theories, all of which had vocal and dogmatic supporters who cited incontrovertible evidence,” he says.

“Weather and climate change are natural processes beyond human control. To argue otherwise is to deny the factual evidence.”

Kirk Myers' Examiner column appears several times weekly. To receive alerts when a new article is published, click on the “subscribe” button at the top of the page. Upcoming topics: the carbon-credit game, melting ice caps/sea ice, and climate change disinformation. For a comprehensive look at global warming, including research and video presentations, please see the links on the right.
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