The truth may be inconvenient after all
June 22, 2011
According to scientists, the sun’s spots are fading, temporarily. Recession on a solar level.
My favorite middle school teacher Phil Beridelli, who now (20-some years later) is a writer for ScienceNOW and other scientific publications, was explaining to me how this sunspot phenomenon could put an end to global warming: “An inconvenient truth,” he said.
If current trends continue, by 2016 we could be faced with something earth hasn’t seen since the late 17th century, a period nicknamed “The Little Ice Age.”
Which explains why all these people are riding their bikes across Colorado’s biggest mountain passes now … getting it in while they can. And maybe why they were all snowed on last weekend … in the middle of June.
The scientists could be wrong, they admit. But, it doesn’t matter. We won’t believe them anyway. At this point, us earthlings are all a little immune to geological and astronomical doomsday stories.
Kevin Costner’s Waterworld never came true. A band of derelict oil drillers haven’t had to save earth from a colliding asteroid. The Day After Tomorrow could never happen!
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I’m so not worried that – with 2012 just around the corner – I still haven’t bought my ticket aboard the ark.
Giving me pause, the sunspot research has appeared in four or five respectable scientific publications as well as more reader-friendly venues like Time Magazine and Yahoo.com, and the evidence is interesting.
Astronomers have apparently been observing and counting sunspots since Galileo began the practice in the early 17th century. From those studies, scientist have observed that the sun goes through an 11-year cycle during which the number of sunspots spikes and drops.
According to scientists, the last drop should have ended and reversed more than a year ago. Instead, this drop has lasted more than two years, the longest drop in sunspot activity in more than a century.
If this “highly unusual” weakening of sunspot activity continues, the sun could be spot free in five to 10 years.
Scientists are not claiming with any certainty that sunspots are connected to the temperature on Earth. Perhaps it’s just serendipity that the last time this happened, between 1645 and 1715, Earth experienced below-average temperatures for two generations.
But, if it does turn out to be true, I could survive a little ice age in Grand County, right? I mean, how bad could it be?
I close my eyes and picture tiny speck people standing next to the towering drifts in Rocky Mountain National Park last week …. the second week of June. I think of glaciers growing rather than receding. I think of year-round ski seasons. I think of going into the snowplowing business.
Well, figuring that the ice age is coming, we might as well warm earth up as much as we can now: Bring back the ’80s hairspray “dos,” reverse the cash for clunkers program (populate the world with gas guzzlers), abolish all emissions testing, and sacrifice seven manatees (just for good luck) – they won’t survive the ice age anyway.
If you are interested in reading more about the sunspots theory, check out these related articles:
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