A Royal Astronomical Society study published in Science Daily on July 9 and presented at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales postulates that solar activity will decline by 60% in the 2030s, producing sunspot minima and a temperature decline similar to that of the “Maunder minimum” that began in 1645. During that period, the effects of this temperature decline may well far outweigh the modest effects of global warming, on which so much taxpayer money has been wasted in the last 20 years. Since moderate temperature declines are more damaging to agriculture and life in general than moderate increases, it will also cause far more economic damage and human misery than can possibly be attributed to global warming over the next century. The global warming hysteria has thus been a statist, hugely dishonest disgrace – but that’s not to say there are no steps that should be taken to mitigate this and other climate fluctuations.
The new study does not contradict the global warming hypothesis that increased carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming. Instead it looks at cycles of solar activity, and comes to the conclusion that in the decade 2030-40 there will be a short period of perhaps a decade during which solar activity is exceptionally low, as it was in the Maunder minimum of 1645-1715. Lower sunspot activity correlates with lower solar output, and the Maunder minimum coincided with a period of sharply lower temperatures known as the “little ice age.”
The question is: what effect this will have on the world’s climate? In this area, the ideological preconceptions of the majority of the world’s scientists have made modern estimates of past data very suspect indeed. One estimate of 2011 postulated that the 17th Century “Maunder Minimum” lowered average temperatures by only 0.1 degree Celsius. That is obviously fatuous, because of the effect the Maunder Minimum had on contemporary life. Harvests were notably smaller during its operation, and the Thames froze over several times, as it had not done before, to the extent of sufficient solidity for commerce, roast oxen etc. to take place in some winters. Contemporaries noticed both the poorer harvests (which were a major cause of working-class discontent during the English Civil War) and also the frozen Thames, which had not happened before.
John Evelyn, the diarist, recorded on 24 January 1684 “The frost continuing more and more severe, the Thames before London was still planted with booths in formal streetes, furnish’d and full of commodities, even to a printing presse, where the people and ladyes tooke a fancy to have their names printed, and the day and yeare set down when printed on the Thames; this humour tooke so universally, that ’twas estimated the printer gained £5 a day, for printing a line onely, at sixpence a name.” The enterprising printer could not have made £5 a day if the temperature decline had been only 0.1 degree Celsius!
More recently, weather scientists have suggested that volcanic activity triggered more of the temperature drop than the Maunder Minimum in sunspot activity. However only one major volcanic eruption was recorded during the period – Mount Etna in 1669 – and evidence suggests that this was much smaller than the Indonesian Tambora and Krakatoa eruptions of the nineteenth century. One thus remains skeptical.
To find a more accurate estimate of the temperature effect of the Maunder Minimum, we may need to go back 35-40 years, before global warming was a source of political activity and vast scientific funding, but well after Walter and Annie Maunder (1851-1928 and 1868-1947) had identified and studied the phenomenon. However one more recent source, from 2003 (when “global warming” was already a phenomenon but new Maunder Minima had not yet been postulated) by Willy Soon and Steven Yaskell, records the temperature drop in 1675-1700 to be around 4-5 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2.5-3 degrees Celsius. Given Evelyn’s surprise at the weather he experienced, that seems a reasonable estimate.
But if that figure is correct (and let’s put in all the caveats about projections and estimates, caveats which global warming scientists would do well to include) then the temperature drop in 2030-40 will not only exceed the effect of global warming by then, it will be close to double the highest plausible estimate of global warming’s effect by 2100. Needless to say, we have done nothing whatever to prepare for this.
A Maunder Minimum on this scale would be far more damaging than a moderate global warming, because of its size, our lack of preparedness, and the reality that cooling is far more damaging to agriculture than moderate warming. Professor J.E. Kutzbach of the University of Wisconsin calculated in a 2010 paper that a 3 degrees Celsius drop in average temperature would reduce global food production by 25%. That’s far more damaging than any agricultural effect of global warming, where greater warmth up to about 5 degrees Celsius results in increased agricultural production.
This suggests that a Maunder Minimum in 2030-40 would be truly catastrophic. With the global population at 7 billion, we are already fairly close to the maximum that can be fed with current land usage and technology. Any technological improvements before 2030 will only be matched by the increase in population by then – on U.N. figures it is expected to pass 8 billion in 2024 and 9 billion in 2040. Thus a 25% decline in agricultural output in the 2030s is likely to result in starvation of something less than 25% of the world population at that time – maybe 15%, or 1.3 billion people.
To summarize, we are subject to both natural and man-made climate fluctuations, but the natural fluctuations may well be both larger and more immediate than the gradual effects of what humanity has caused so far (we are of course capable of producing a “nuclear winter:” that would be as fast as a natural fluctuation and possibly larger. Let’s not try this!) It now appears likely that the first such fluctuation, considerably larger and more immediate than the effect of global warming, will be a cooling beginning in only 15 years.
There are a number of conclusions to be drawn from this. First, the hugely expensive steps we have taken to combat global warming – all the ethanol production, wind farms, electric car subsidies to Elon Musk, etc. – have been money wasted. Yes, global warming may be a problem after 2050, to a limited extent, but it’s not going to be a problem before then, and some of our actions taken to combat it are highly damaging to the fight against the Maunder Minimum of the 2030s and 2040s. The ethanol program, for example, subsidizes non-food production from The United States’ most productive farmland; if it is continued in the 2030s it may well be directly responsible for killing several hundred million people.
Second, we must do what we can to enable humanity to survive the Maunder Minimum, without a major wipe-out of population. There are no programs equivalent to solar panels and wind farms we can adopt to do this; even if a mass re-conversion to coal burning power stations were possible, it would not increase the temperature sufficiently to conquer Maunder (and the sulfates from coal burning might well increase the cooling – there is a strong possibility that global warming began only when we started to clean up all the nice sulfates from coal usage, about 1970.)
Third, population reduction, bending the fertility curve down so that the peak in global population is reached as soon as possible, should be a top priority. Even if we only reduce global population by 200 million from the projection by 2040, that’s 200 million people who will not have to starve to death. If the social engineers itching to meddle with our lives and load impossible burdens onto the world economy want to do anything, they should do this. In this direction, their meddling and regulation would actually achieve some genuine human good, as well as increasing global GDP per capita rather than reducing it.
Finally, it is essential that intellectual integrity be restored to the scientific profession. Too much money has been devoted to funding global warming scientists, who have depended for their livelihood on a high level of public and political anxiety about global warming, and have hence tended to suppress the evidence against the popular hysteria. The South Sea Bubble of 1720 would have done far more damage if the press and the scientific community had been ordered to magnify the potential profitability of the South Sea enterprise. Like that Bubble, global warming, possessing about as much reality as the plans of the South Sea Company, is an “Extraordinary Popular Delusion” inflated by the “Madness of Crowds” in the immortal title of Charles Mackay’s 1841 masterpiece. Enlightenment standards of scientific integrity have been subverted by government cash and media hysteria. For the sake of all our futures this must never be allowed to happen again.
Meanwhile, 2030 is not all that far away. Maybe it’s time to stock up on overcoats or move to Florida, according to taste. Coats and relocation are at least private choices, not forced upon us by the political process.
(The Bear’s Lair is a weekly column that is intended to appear each Monday, an appropriately gloomy day of the week. Its rationale is that the proportion of “sell” recommendations put out by Wall Street houses remains far below that of “buy” recommendations. Accordingly, investors have an excess of positive information and very little negative information. The column thus takes the ursine view of life and the market, in the hope that it may be usefully different from what investors see elsewhere.)