Dude, where's my sunspots? – UPDATED

Some scientists think the “warming trend” which (despite the fact that we’re having our usual early-June heatwaves) has stalled out over the past few years was helped along by sunspots. And lately, there aren’t any.

The scientists said periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, but this period has gone on longer than usual.

“It continues to be dead,” said Saku Tsuneta with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, program manager for the Hinode solar mission. “That’s a small concern, a very small concern.”

Not sure what there is to be “concerned” about. It’s not like we can do anything about it. Either old Sol will spot and flare or he won’t.

Dana Longcope, a solar physicist at MSU, said the sun usually operates on an 11-year cycle with maximum activity occurring in the middle of the cycle. Minimum activity generally occurs as the cycles change. Solar activity refers to phenomena like sunspots, solar flares and solar eruptions. Together, they create the weather than can disrupt satellites in space and technology on earth.

The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending now, Longcope said. The next cycle is just beginning and is expected to reach its peak sometime around 2012. Today’s sun, however, is as inactive as it was two years ago, and scientists aren’t sure why.

“It’s a dead face,” Tsuneta said of the sun’s appearance.

Tsuneta said solar physicists aren’t like weather forecasters; They can’t predict the future. They do have the ability to observe, however, and they have observed a longer-than-normal period of solar inactivity. In the past, they observed that the sun once went 50 years without producing sunspots. That period, from approximately 1650 to 1700, occurred during the middle of a little ice age on Earth that lasted from as early as the mid-15th century to as late as the mid-19th century.

So much for man being able to do anything about “climate change.” But I’m sure the true believers won’t be shaken. Some, though, are getting sensible about the faux seriousness of the issue.

The founder of The Weather Channel pipes up:

I suspect you haven’t heard it because the mass media did not report it, but I am not alone on the no man-made warming side of this issue. On May 20th, a list of the names of over thirty-one thousand scientists who refute global warming was released. Thirty-one thousand of which 9,000 are Ph.ds. Think about that. Thirty-one thousand. That dwarfs the supposed 2,500 scientists on the UN panel. In the past year, five hundred of scientists have issued public statements challenging global warming. A few more join the chorus every week. There are about 100 defectors from the UN IPCC.

Read it all.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://www.plumbbobblog.com philwynk

    Not sure what there is to be “concerned” about.

    The last time the sun went for a long, long time without sunspots, the earth experienced what we’re now calling the Little Ice Age. What there is to be concerned about is the possibility of a coming spate of serious global cooling, which would, in fact, reduce the productivity of farms.

    What we may be facing is the sheer irony of Western nations voluntarily crippling their own productive capacity to solve global warming, and a few decades later the Thames freezes over. Don’t tell me God has no sense of humor…

    (Unrelated to this topic, please visit my political blog, “Plumb Bob Blog: Squaring the Culture.” Thanks.)

  • lindel

    You know, I’ve always found it somewhat amusing how global warming “skeptics” will basically accept any study/evidence that at least appears to support their beliefs (like the whole no warming since ’01) and will completly ignore any studies/evidence that don’t. Like, if some scientist says that global warming is caused by the sun than you’re all over it and if some climate scientist says it’s caused by people than I’m going to go out on a limb and assume it’s not going to be mentioned. It’s called cherry-picking and it’s sloppy thinking.


    Okay I largely included that for entertainment value.

  • TheAnchoress

    I agree…it’s just like the folks who hear about “global warming” happening on other planets and ignoring it. Or who see legitimate questions about climate “models” and ignore them. Lots of sloppy thinking going on.

    But MY sloppy thinking will not deprive you of your rights while the planet goes through its usual cycles and it won’t ruin your economy! :-)

  • http://www.plumbbobblog.com philwynk

    lindel wrote: You know, I’ve always found it somewhat amusing how global warming “skeptics” will basically accept any study/evidence that at least appears to support their beliefs (like the whole no warming since ‘01) and will completly ignore any studies/evidence that don’t.

    There’s actually some pretty sound reasons for this. When the press is literally trumpeting every tiny speck of evidence that humans are destroying the planet and comparing anybody who doubts it to holocaust deniers, when schools are requiring students to watch An Inconvenient Truth in science classes, when scientists who dare to question the Official Dogman from government jobs are being fired and sued, and when funding for the most alarmist research exceeds that for other types by a factor of 1,000 to 1, it actually makes logical sense to draw attention to the genuine research that contradicts the Official, Dogmatic Misanthropic Assumption. It’s how honest laymen resist lies, you see.

    It would not be necessary if advocates of human-caused global climate change acted like scientists, limiting their claims to what can be demonstrated from genuine research, dismissing obviously biased nonsense, addressing contrary points of view respectfully, and going where the evidence takes you. Sadly, that has not been the case in climate science for about 20 years.

    There was actually some valid basis for saying humans might be causing the warming, back in the 1990s. At this point, though, my assessment is that the ice core data have pretty much made AGW defenders into buggy whip salesmen. There’s been no legitimate reason to suspect carbon dioxide drives the climate since it became clear that CO2 lags temperature in the historic record, nor is it likely that CO2 produces any amplification effects since that became clear.

    The total effect of humans pumping CO2 into the atmosphere will most likely turn out to be the easily calculated direct greenhouse effect, which is something like 1.5 degrees C every time we double atmospheric concentration (which we haven’t come close to doing yet.) That, and we’re promoting plant growth like crazy. Human-generated CO2 is actually helping solve world hunger — but AGW defenders somehow never mention that well-known effect. Perhaps we “skeptics” aren’t the only ones arguing selectively.

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