What may be the science story of the century is breaking this evening, as heavyweight US solar physicists announce that the Sun appears to be headed into a lengthy spell of low activity, which could mean that the Earth – far from facing a global warming problem – is actually headed into a mini Ice Age.
The Sun normally follows an 11-year cycle of activity. The current cycle, Cycle 24, is now supposed to be ramping up towards maximum strength. Increased numbers of sunspots and other indications ought to be happening: but in fact results so far are most disappointing. Scientists at the NSO now suspect, based on data showing decades-long trends leading to this point, that Cycle 25 may not happen at all.
The magic phrase 'Maunder Minimum' was used - which suggests that we might be looking at another Little Ice Age. Which, depending on who you ask, either: caused a bunch of wars; made a bunch of wars much worse than they would have been otherwise; or is not to be mentioned in polite company. Personally, I was hoping that we'd avoid this: after all, cold is death and heat is life. Better to be warm and wet, than cold and dry. But then, I have kids, and I worry that the current short-sighted, willful denial of science by our self-appointed elites may be condemning my children - and everybody else's - to a future of poverty and dearth.
On the bright side, a colleague of mine suggested that the perfect name for a hypothetical new period of decreased sunspot activity would be the "Gore Minimum." In terms of irony alone, that would be perfect.
Moe Lane (crosspost)