No, not really. But the conflicting headlines I’m seeing this week might as well say that. Apparently we’re all still doomed, but our first item in recent climate news deals with a different phenomenon than the usual screeds which, rather than melting the ice caps and drowning all of the coastal cities, is going to bring on a new mini-ice starting in about fifteen years. Rather than carbon emissions or fracking, the culprit this time is the sun. (From the Daily Mail)
The Earth could be headed for a ‘mini ice age’ researchers have warned.
A new study claims to have cracked predicting solar cycles – and says that between 2020 and 2030 solar cycles will cancel each other out.
This, they say, will lead to a phenomenon known as the ‘Maunder minimum’ – which has previously been known as a mini ice age when it hit between 1646 and 1715, even causing London’s River Thames to freeze over.
The new model of the Sun’s solar cycle is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat.
Another “Maunder minimum” could certainly lead to our living to see interesting times. No matter how much I read about this subject though, I’ve never been entirely clear on the entire sunspot thing. The sun allegedly runs in some sort of eleven year cycle where sunspots peak in frequency and severity and then diminish for a time. It’s not the sunspots themselves which are causing havoc so much as they are indicators of generally increased solar activity and output. The more “busy” the sun is, the more we heat up. When it “goes to sleep” as described in the article, we cool down.
When the big minimum hit in the later 1600s mankind was fairly well crippled as growing seasons were disrupted and places froze which really shouldn’t have. If that happens again now I don’t suppose man will be much better equipped to deal with it and food supplies could become a problem quickly. But when I see predictions like these I’m always left with the same sorts of questions. First, if a rapid decrease in sunspot activity can cause such dramatic cooling, why is it that the recent higher levels of sunspots can’t possibly account for any warming we’ve seen?
Also, I’m willing to accept that we’ve got some excellent tools for monitoring the sun’s activities these days, particularly with satellites orbiting the star at various times and much better telescopes. But what about the older readings which are going into these calculations? Surely they were based on results from far more modest equipment. Let’s just say there could be room for healthy skepticism here. Also, the “experts” don’t all seem to have gotten the sunspot memo. In the same week that the ice age alert was going out, a different group of climate experts launched a slightly different headline.
Sea Levels Could Rise At Least 20 Feet
Even if world manages to limit global warming to 2°C — the target number for current climate negotiations — sea levels may still rise at least 6 meters (20 feet) above their current heights, radically reshaping the world’s coastline and affecting millions in the process.
That finding comes from a new paper published on Thursday in Science that shows how high sea levels rose the last time carbon dioxide levels were this high…
The study examined past changes and laid out a framework for using them to refine our understanding of what the future holds for coastal communities. According to separate research by Climate Central, a 20-foot sea level rise would reshape the U.S. coast, causing Louisiana to lose its boot and transforming the Bay Area into the Bays Area by forming a second inland bay. It would also threaten the world’s coastal nations and megacities.
If the planet starts freezing over in fifteen years and I’m still somehow kicking around for some reason, I’ll be happy to apologize for being a doubting Thomas. Conversely, if the oceans swallow up the coastal cities I’ll similarly issue a mea culpa, even though my new beachfront property 100 miles inland will doubtless go way up in value. But we’ve been given all sorts of remarkable predictions about global weather patterns and effects over the course of my life and I’m not ready to invest in a dog sled just yet. Or water wings for that matter.