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 http://www.wgbhnews.org/...)
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.http://www.rawstory.com/...
"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.