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Seeing Darksyde's post on the current solar maximum, I thought I'd post on related solar cycle news: Scientists are recognizing the impending "grand solar minimum," basically where the solar cycle shuts down for a period of time, will affect climate change during that time.

Being a father, I am quite glad to hear scientists recognize that the "grand solar minimum" could stave off catastrophic warming, at least until near the end of the century, and which might allow my child and his generation of kids around the world to have a more normal life. Perhaps he won't have to fight in a future war because of climate change chaos.

This could buy mankind critical time to start fixing the root problems of climate change: massively downsizing petrochemical industry or replacing petrochemical products altogether and establishing mitigation strategies, perhaps allowing more time for discussion of controversial geoengineering and other mitigation strategies (quick google for this link

I am but a layman on this issue, like most people, but I follow it closely and the reality-based community cannot ignore this. Just because wingnuts are gleefully using this to push their evil denialist viewpoints doesn't mean that this should be excluded from climate change discussions.

In the most detailed look yet at the impact a similar event might have on global warming, researchers from the US and Australia have concluded that a 50-year grand minimum in sunspot activity likely would reduce global average temperatures during the period by a few tenths of a degree Celsius, but that the warming trend would resume once solar activity returns to normal.

"What if we went into another Maunder Minimum? Would that actually stop global warming"? asks Gerald Meehl, a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who led the team that conducted the study. "The short answer is: No. It slows it down for a while. But the minute the sunspots come back and the solar output goes back up, the temperature pops back up" close to where it would have been if the sun spots hadn't taken a powder, and the warming trend resumes.

This seems like a massive stroke of luck. And it almost makes me believe in a higher power....

Now if only demographic and societal shifts could just speed up a bit and push the tea partiers and their evil, denialist, anti-science crowd back to the fringes, we could use this extra time to find real solutions for future generations. If we don't, the solar cycle will ramp back up at the end of the century and global warming will return with a catastrophic vengeance.

Originally posted to gnosticator on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 07:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It Won't Do a Thing to Slow Ocean Acidification (19+ / 0-)

    which at some point begins to kill astronomical quantities of plankton that can no longer make their tiny shells, also affecting coral reefs and other kinds of shell fish, which would be a catastrophe of extra-Biblical proportions.

    Also this would cripple a crucial mechanism for sequestering atmospheric carbon as the dead plankton and other shell fish fall to the sea bottom eventually being subducted down into the crust.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 07:48:10 AM PDT

  •  Not a miracle (5+ / 0-)

    If it were a miracle, it would have happened just after things got pretty durned bad and even the denialists stopped denying.

    As it stands, it's going to be an excuse to put it off, do nothing, and otherwise Drill, Baby, Drill for another eighty years...when the hammer falls.

    (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

    by Lonely Liberal in PA on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 07:48:34 AM PDT

    •  demographics (6+ / 0-)

      i'm hopeful demographic changes and frankly a dying off of the hardcore religious elements of the republican party will undo that scenario. but I hear you on the cynicism. population and resource crises will probably still occur (leading to war for resources etc). but hey, i'll take whatever break we get....

      and my point here is that we on the left need to stop denying this aspect of the equation, simply because of your point, which is valid but not good enough of a reason to downplay this topic as much as I've seen. we need to get ahead of this, not downplay or deny....

      •  No downplay here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Darwinian Detrius, Miggles

        I've rather resigned myself to doing what I can and watching the vast majority of the world not do terribly much.

        Humans do tend not to deal with things until they become so bad it's hard to deny what's right in front of your nose laughing at you.

        It's just the way we are.

        Over time, climate change will impact a larger percentage of humanity (just Hurricane Sandy changed a lot of minds around here), and that will help.

        (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

        by Lonely Liberal in PA on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:22:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The religious will never die off. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dougymi, pimutant

        Centuries after Galileo and 150 years after Darwin, their discoveries are still doubted by millions. 500 years from now, there will still be people who believe Barack Obama was a Kenyan.

        •  religion is hard-wired into us (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deward Hastings

          Not just in terms of [erroneous] pattern detection, but for its social, tribal functions: strengthening the bonds between a group of people and affirming their commitment to each other, pumping people up with something outside themselves that makes it easier to risk and to suffer.

          There are plenty of [technically] atheistic religions out there: capitalism (the market is god), communism (the collective is god), fascism (the state is god), Ayn Randism (the self is god), technophilia (Deus est machina; through IT all things are possible), environmentalism (nature is god), etc.: "god" being not an entity but a function - the Prime Mover, the arbiter of right and wrong, the dispenser of blessing and wrath, etc.

          IMO anything that theorizes a telos (the purpose of life, the universe, and everything) and an ethos (the way you ought to act in order to be in harmony with that purpose) has the potential to grow into a religion.  All it needs is lots of ritual to make the leap from something you believe to something you do.  The purpose of these spells is to either empower the telos itself (e.g. Aztecs feeding the gods with human blood) or to bring oneself into line with the ethos (usually from the outside in; "fake it until you make it" kind of thinking).

          War Nerd: changed the way I think. Free stuff here & here

          by Visceral on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:16:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Putting the cart before the horse (0+ / 0-)

            What you describe are behaviors that are hard-wired into social animals.  Religion is merely the baggage that those who want to control the society attach to those behaviors.

            People can affirm their commitment to each other, but it takes a priest in outdated clothes and a silly hat to pronounce it sanctified according to a religion.

            People can make sure that no one in their group goes without, but it takes a smooth talking charlatan to convince them to give him 10% of what they have in the name of religion.

            People have all sorts of teleological questions to which they can never be sure of an answer -- until a holy man tells them what was whispered into his ear as a divine revelation.

            Religion is not hard-wired any more than we are born with born with ticks and leeches already attached.  But while parents will remove any parasites they find on their little tyke who was walking through the high grass, they are usually the source of the child's religious indoctrination.

            Religion has had time to co-evolve with humans and their societies so that it may seem that it is hard-wired. That is the mark of a very effective parasite, just as malaria can be found in newborns, having crossed the placenta from the mother.  Given sufficient doses of reason and anti-malarials, there is no reason that children should have to be burdened with either religion or malaria.  

            •  except the ritual baggage is the important part (0+ / 0-)

              It's like the difference between loving someone and telling them that you love them.  It's the difference between telling someone you love them and doing something nice for them.  It's the difference between doing something nice for someone you love and sacrificing something of your own for them.

              Try to tell the religion of a bunch of generic people who all wear the same clothes, eat the same food, watch the same TV, do the same things on Sunday, etc.  Then put a Hasidic Jew next to a Haitian Vodou priestess next to a Catholic bishop next to an Indian sadhu.

              Socially and psychologically, and for the individual as well as the group, the superficialities of religion are actually more important that the invisible and esoteric theological substance.  Ironically, the more material, outward, and demanding (physically, psychologically, and financially) the religion is of its participants, the better it works as a statement of identity and commitment.

              War Nerd: changed the way I think. Free stuff here & here

              by Visceral on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 03:53:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  The only demographic that may matter here (0+ / 0-)

        is the ever increasing world population and its inevitable need for sources of energy.

        If work was a good thing, the rich would have it all and not let you do it. -- Elmore Leonard

        by voroki on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 05:08:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Unfortunately for your new optimism (7+ / 0-)

    We're presently going up about .06 deg C a year, which over 50 years is 3 deg C.  You're not even going to notice a few tenths of a degree.

  •  Umm... i thought solar cycle was like 20 years... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    some other george, TJ

    thats like 3.5 cycles between now and 2080.

    How does this help?

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:05:59 AM PDT

    •  the scientists say it could lead to cooling (0+ / 0-)

      during that time.... which could buy time for mitigation strategies and political/demographic changes that lead to removal of petrochemical industry...

      if grand solar minimum and subsequent cooling occur, that's huge. how can you downplay that?!

      a case could be made for using all the billions of dollars that WOULD have been spent on climate disasters and resource wars etc, to find real mitigation strategies, maybe even pushing for international approach to CO2 removal from atmosphere.

      •  Because its a 22 years cycle of min and max... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        so not sure how you expect that to keep the planet cool for 60 years.

        How can you downplay your point is completely irrelevant?

        I was hoping for a response that included rational thinking, so i will give you a second try.

        The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

        by fToRrEeEsSt on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:22:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's my understanding (0+ / 0-)

          that the sun has cycles within cycles. I don't know much about it, but I know it's very complex.

          One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

          by Darwinian Detritus on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:29:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well can find no evidence of it so far... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            So thats why I was asking the diarist (or anyone, like you since you bring it up but again no supporting evidence), but instead of saying anything meaningful like pointing out my lack of knowledge by showing this other cycle, he just wants to know why i downplay this amazing news that I should just take his word for.

            There may be other cycles, but nothing i can use to support the point of the diary and the diarist doesn't seem to care about anything except believing all is peachy keen and we can burn petrol because the sun will save us.

            The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

            by fToRrEeEsSt on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:36:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I suggest this could be used to discredit deniers. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "Yes," says the denier, "temperatures are going up, but that's due to solar activity." But if solar activity is shown to be undergoing a long-term minimum, they lose that argument. Here's a NASA page that includes some information on a recorded instance of this happening before.

              No, this doesn't mean we're going to be okay. Temps will continue to increase, even if this prediction pans out. Next I'll have to bone up on orbital mechanics, because deniers will try to use that too.

              One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

              by Darwinian Detritus on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:58:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I can downplay it (0+ / 0-)

        An article in the Christian Science Monitor says it will increase only .64 degrees C instead of .8 degrees C.

        That's not cooling.

    •  I suggest you follow the rawstory link. (0+ / 0-)
      Peering at trends – or in some cases, the lack of them – in the sun's behavior during the run-up to the current cycle's peak, some solar physicists increasingly are considering the possibility that the sun may be on the verge of a "grand solar minimum," comparable to a 70-year period running from the early 17th century into the early 18th century, when the sun produced no sunspots at all.

      That period, known as the Maunder Minimum, coincided with the Little Ice Age, when the climate in the Northern Hemisphere cooled significantly.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:26:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  TY thats what I was looking for, though... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Darwinian Detrius, Gooserock

        I do not find 'some solar physicists' 'considering the possibility' as evidence of likeliness so much as a statement of possibility.

        So though its something that can happen we don't really have a clue if it will.

        Being reasonable can look like being negative sometimes, but i like to refrain from gambling our plant away on a weak maybe.

        The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

        by fToRrEeEsSt on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:45:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's Been In the News One Way or Another FOr (5+ / 0-)

          anumber of years because the recent minimum went on a year or so longer than expected, and the present rise is relatively low activity.

          I use a pinhole mirror to project solar images into a dark garage etc. but it's been years since I've been able to see any sunspots, which I was able to do pretty routinely much of the 70's thru 90's or so.

          I'll keep my eye out for more news from solar astronomy on this.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 09:34:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ty would like to see any evidence that bolsters... (0+ / 0-)

            this claim, not for arguments sake but because I like physics :)

            The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

            by fToRrEeEsSt on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 09:48:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  The actual link that that link points to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama

        is Global warming: What happens if the sun loses its spots?

        This story is greatly exaggerated. A few scientists suggest that maybe Global Warming might perhaps go a bit slower, by 0.16 degrees over several decades, and then go back up again, if their conjecture about the next several sunspot cycles is borne out. The practical upshot of that over the next 50 years is that the disaster could be slightly less disastrous, temporarily.

        What really matters is not what sort of sunspot cycle may be nearing, but that Grid Parity here on Earth is nearing, when renewable electricity will cost less than electricity from burning fossil carbon. It is here in some places, and will spread far and wide to the whole planet in a few years, as costs for solar and wind generation equipment continue to tumble while efficiency increases more rapidly than predicted. At current growth rates, we can reach full reliance on wind and solar, and the end of burning fossil carbon for electricity, by about 2030. I cannot say when cars will all go all-electric, nor when biofuels will power jet planes, but it is all coming.

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 01:29:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i'm not taking a stand one way or the other. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          i was just slightly annoyed because he was being rather combative about his particular question, when if he had followed the link he'd have seen that they are talking about something other than the standard cycle (something I had thought was fairly clear from the original diary, BTW).

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 01:36:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well, this might just give us a tad bit more (5+ / 0-)

    breathing room, but at this point it is still speculative and even if it does happen, it won't help all that much:

    The team found that between 2026 and 2035, global average temperatures in the experiment would increase 0.80 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) with normal solar activity, but only 0.64 degrees C. assuming sunspots went into a long hibernation.

    By 2040, the pace of warming begins to pick up in the grand-minimum scenario. Between 2065 and 2080, after the grand minimum ends, warming has reached 1.47 degrees C above 1986-2005 levels with normal solar activity and 1.32 degrees C in the grand-minimum scenario.

    A difference of .16 degrees isn't exactly going to save us.

    But, who knows... maybe it'll give us the additional amount of time we need to react.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:37:48 AM PDT

  •  david keith (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pfiore8, RLMiller, Miggles, Calamity Jean

    is a proponent of geoengineering, and well outside the mainstream on climate scence. the drafts of the new ipcc report show things getting worse faster, not being mitigated.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:51:27 AM PDT

  •  If you read about what temperatures are critical (5+ / 0-)

    and look at the slope of the mean trend curve from all climate models, a couple tenths of a °C aren't going to help a whole lot.  Maybe we get a decade if the rate of increase remains as is. from the 4th assessment report.

    How is taking a hundred dollars worth of food from hungry kids or from old poor sick people equal to taking a hundred dollars from billionaires? -- howabout, 19 Dec 2012

    by billlaurelMD on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:52:18 AM PDT

  •  Unfortunately, it's unlikely to amount to much... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Banana Republicans, Miggles

    when the effect is dwarfed by global warming by something like an order of magnitude. Yes, it's better than nothing I suppose, but in the scheme of things, not much. Meanwhile, there is only talk - and not all that much of that lately - of starting to cut back on the increase of atmospheric carbon that will persist for centuries. The outlook is truly discouraging.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:56:06 AM PDT

  •  Uh, no. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungeski, Miggles

    The most recent solar maximum is less intense than the previous one.

    There may well be an ill-defined longer-term cycle in the intensity of solar cycles (~11y or 22y if magnetic reversals are used).  Here are the actual data.  See if you can pick out a multi-cycle period.  Go on, try it.

    The increase in solar irradiation on earth from a typical solar minimum to maximum is typically < 0.1%.  That's one part in a thousand.

    Thus the radiative forcing from the sun is almost down in the noise compared to the forcing from anthropogenic greenhouse emissions.

    In other words, this isn't a big fricking deal.

    And here's why this is a dangerous thing:

    Assigning outsized importance to the sun's radiative forcing -- even by saying we could be in for a temporary cooling -- gives dangerous ammunition to the cult of denialists who say the greenhouse effect is all because the sun is hotter or more luminous, and that's cyclical, so human's aren't really involved, so why are we worried?
    So chill, folks.  

    Disclosure:  Ph.D. in physics, retired astro prof, researcher conversant with the data.

    (-7.62,-7.33) Carbon footprint 11.3 metric tons. l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

    by argomd on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 02:29:53 PM PDT

  •  It's a crumb (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungeski, Miggles

    It's one degree Fahrenheit temperature increase a decade instead of one and a half.  Things are still really bad unless we seriously change.  In the end, we have to go completely zero carbon and we have to do it soon.  Given current political realities, I really think technology combined with grassroots efforts is the best bet. Pushing for economic justice will be very important (after all, you can't buy that solar panel array and free yourself from the infinite monthly coal-fired electric bill unless you can build up the savings and/or credit to pay for the one-time puchase and installation cost).  So will pushing for less consumption, more recycling, even smaller families.

    And no detail is too small.  Politicians deal best with stuff that is simple and incremental.  And that's how activists for healthy environmental change need to serve it up to them.  Pretty soon, all those little details start to add up to a lot.

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