February 18, 2008

Where are the Sunspots?

Spend much time looking at the surface of our Sun? I don't, but those who do report a lower-than-average number of sunspots.

Such a low number was associated with the "Dalton Minimum" (which has its own blog), a period of low solar activity and lower temperatures from about 1790-1830.

The big "minimum" was the Maunder Minimum, also known to historians as the Little Ice Age, roughly 1645-1715.

Since we hear more about "global warming" (a misnomer, since projected warming is not uniform), people talking about sunspots feel like an embattled minority.

I see three possible takes on this situation:

1. We are entering a solar-caused cool period, but human-caused climate change will override it.

2. There is no cool period coming. Please continue cutting carbon emissions.

3. There is a solar-caused cooling period that will override human-caused changes.

Still, inveterate moderate that I am, I keep thinking that cutting pollution and using renewable energy are Good Things regardless of what the Sun does.

1 comment:

mdmnm said...

Like you, I think that using renewable energy and cutting pollution are worthwhile goals in their own right. I do worry a bit, though, that if/when global warming does not result in the apocalyptic conditions being projected to scare up support for various initiatives it will be a really significant setback for any and all environmental initiatives.
That's still far preferable than Manhattan becoming a new Venice and the center of the country drying up and blowing away, but still....
I recall reading articles in the National Geographic World magazine about how we were falling back into an ice age when I was a kid.