The 2008 winter was the coldest in 40 years — for the upper Midwest, the Plains States and most of Canada. Minnesota newspapers report that this year's opening of the locks to Mississippi barge traffic, delayed three weeks, was the latest since the modern waterway opened in 1940. Eau Claire, where 'old-fashioned winters' have been a thing of the past, recorded 43 days of below-zero temperatures.
From January 2007 through the end of January 2008, the average global temperature fell by nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit, based on data obtained by the MET Office in the United Kingdom and other international temperature monitoring networks.
What do we make of this? A recent climate conference in New York City, sponsored by the Heartland Institute, provides some answers. Several hundred climatologists in attendance dispelled any notion that the global warming debate is over. Most attendees, who readily acknowledge the existence of post-Little Ice Age warming, believe man-made emissions are unlikely to cause major climate change and signed a declaration to that effect.
During periods of weak solar activity — as at present — cosmic rays (high-energy protons from interstellar space) penetrate through the troposphere and ionize oxygen and nitrogen molecules. The ions are nucleating sites for water vapor that condenses into clouds. When sunspots are at a minimum, more clouds form and, correspondingly, more sunlight is reflected back into space. The enhanced reflectance (albedo) cools the Earth. We all have experienced how quickly the temperature drops when the sun ducks behind a puffy white cloud on a warm, dry afternoon.
Past cool periods are closely correlated with low sunspot numbers (astronomers have kept close tabs on sunspots since Galileo's time). Some solar-physicists are now saying if the current cycle doesn't begin to produce spots soon, we can expect a cool-down like the 19th-century one known as the "Dalton minimum" — or worse. Decades-long cooling in the past brought crop failures to Europe from repeated summer frosts and restricted growing seasons.
With grain shortages already staring us in the face, we'd be advised to begin thinking about a global cool-down instead of a warming that may or may not continue.
In all fairness, the Heartland Institute is no more an objective organization than the UN is but more and more information is coming out in support of an actual cooling trend - but don't expect the Star Tribune or other liberal rags to offer it up any time soon.
In the mean time, riddle me this: If the Global Cooling Crisis gains as much momentum as the Global Warming Crisis did, will Al Gore and Rock-Star Enthusiasts who still think our burning of fossil fuels raises global temperatures be encouraged to drive more miles in their larger cars and use their private jets more? Will they dump their ugly Priuses for Ferraris again? Will the proposed carbon markets be reversed? Will Al Gore shut his pie hole or at least agree to debate the issue?
HT Chris F