Thursday, April 24, 2008

The scariest photo

Courtesy of the Doug Ross blog, we come to Phil Chapman's piece in The Australian where he publishes the "scariest photo I have seen on the internet".

This is from, where you will find a real-time image of the sun from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), located in deep space at the equilibrium point between solar and terrestrial gravity. What is scary about the picture, writes Chapman, is that there is only one tiny sunspot.

Phil Chapman, in case you didn't know, is a geophysicist and astronautical engineer who lives in San Francisco. He was the first Australian to become a NASA astronaut.

Warming (if you will forgive that word) to his theme, he tells us that, "disconcerting as it may be to true believers in global warming, the average temperature on Earth has remained steady or slowly declined during the past decade, despite the continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, and now the global temperature is falling precipitously."

This we have recorded on this blog (for instance, here and here and Chapman tells us that all four agencies that track Earth's temperature (the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Britain, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the Christy group at the University of Alabama, and Remote Sensing Systems Inc in California) report that the global temperature cooled by about 0.7C in 2007.

This, he reminds us, "is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record and it puts us back where we were in 1930. If the temperature does not soon recover, we will have to conclude that global warming is over." He adds:

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that 2007 was exceptionally cold. It snowed in Baghdad for the first time in centuries, the winter in China was simply terrible and the extent of Antarctic sea ice in the austral winter was the greatest on record since James Cook discovered the place in 1770.
We could also add that Arctic ice cover this winter is over a million square kilometres more than it was last year, with Greenland ice between Canada and southwest Greenland having reached its greatest extent in 15 years. Yet still we get ill-informed propaganda puffs from the WWF in the likes of today's Daily Telegraph telling us that dwindling Arctic sea ice may have reached a "tipping point" – relying on data from September 2005.

Rightly, Chapman cautions that it is generally not possible to draw conclusions about climatic trends from events in a single year. He would normally dismiss this cold snap as transient, pending what happens in the next few years. But this is where SOHO comes in. We are thus informed:

The sunspot number follows a cycle of somewhat variable length, averaging 11 years. The most recent minimum was in March last year. The new cycle, No 24, was supposed to start soon after that, with a gradual build-up in sunspot numbers.

It didn't happen. The first sunspot appeared in January this year and lasted only two days. A tiny spot appeared last Monday but vanished within 24 hours. Another little spot appeared this Monday. Pray that there will be many more, and soon.

The reason this matters is that there is a close correlation between variations in the sunspot cycle and Earth's climate. The previous time a cycle was delayed like this was in the Dalton Minimum, an especially cold period that lasted several decades from 1790.

Northern winters became ferocious: in particular, the rout of Napoleon's Grand Army during the retreat from Moscow in 1812 was at least partly due to the lack of sunspots.

That the rapid temperature decline in 2007 coincided with the failure of cycle No 24 to begin on schedule is not proof of a causal connection but it is cause for concern.

It is time to put aside the global warming dogma, at least to begin contingency planning about what to do if we are moving into another little ice age, similar to the one that lasted from 1100 to 1850.
Echoing precisely the point we made in our previous piece, Chapman says there is no doubt that the next little ice age would be much worse than the previous one and much more harmful than anything warming may do.

There are many more people now, he writes, and we have become dependent on a few temperate agricultural areas, especially in the US and Canada. Global warming would increase agricultural output, but global cooling will decrease it. Millions will starve if we do nothing to prepare for it (such as planning changes in agriculture to compensate), and millions more will die from cold-related diseases.

In fact, Chapman posits a remote but much more serious scenario of "severe glaciation" which can occur quickly – as fast as 20 years. "The next descent into an ice age is inevitable but may not happen for another 1000 years," he reassures us. "On the other hand, it must be noted that the cooling in 2007 was even faster than in typical glacial transitions. If it continued for 20 years, the temperature would be 14C cooler in 2027."

By then, most of the advanced nations would have ceased to exist, vanishing under the ice, and the rest of the world would be faced with a catastrophe beyond imagining.

Thus, he concludes, "All those urging action to curb global warming need to take off the blinkers and give some thought to what we should do if we are facing global cooling instead." Inevitably, Chapman warns, "It will be difficult for people to face the truth when their reputations, careers, government grants or hopes for social change depend on global warming, but the fate of civilisation may be at stake."

With a fine sense of history, he then chooses his closing words from Oliver Cromwell, with a message for warmists: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."

The admission of error, however, is not within the gift of the warmists. If Mother Nature is playing a cruel joke on them, then we have a way to go before the full horror of their obsession becomes apparent – but not very long.


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