Tags: Climate Change | Global Warming | earth | ice | sun

We Take the Sun for Granted at Our Peril

We Take the Sun for Granted at Our Peril
(Elena Schweitzer/Dreamstime)

By
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 08:23 AM Current | Bio | Archive

There’s good reason why the sun captured our distant ancestors’ awe-struck attention when Homo sapiens first stood upright. Aside from the most insignificant exceptions, all energy, all food, all warmth and sustenance — all life — comes from Sol (the Latin name for the sun.)

But insofar as the climate change question is concerned, it seems this primal source for any potential global warming has been completely excluded from the debate. Not a word is uttered about the great arbiter of everything that happens or doesn’t on Earth, yet there are two words that most certainly should be front and center in any discussion about the world’s future climatic fate: mildly variable.

That ominous description is part of the sun’s scientific classification: it is a mildly variable, G-type, main sequence star. What that means is that notwithstanding what the U.N. and signatories to the Paris Agreement might insist, the sun does whatever it wants from time to time. The last time our Sun decided to go a bit quiescent was from around 1300 to 1850, and every human being alive then suffered through a "Little Ice Age" because of it.

During this period civilization was wiped out on Greenland, plant life and agriculture was impeded, and millions starved around the world, accompanied by great social upheavals fueled by peasant revolts exacerbated by endemic hunger. Many historians, for example, point to the successive brutal winters and tepid growing seasons that preceded the French Revolution in 1789, leaving hordes of sans-culottes desperate and rebellious.

Unlike Ireland, Germany, Poland and Russia, the French hadn’t warmed up to the New World staple that grew underground and protected from the cold: the potato. Their reluctance to accept the novel cuisine and rely instead wholly upon the grains they and their forebears knew for centuries was a fatal decision, not only for thousands of starving French sharecroppers but for the Bourbons as well and the entire Ancien Régime. We moderns may be as shortsighted in ways just as risky though.

There is certainly still quite a bit science has to learn about the sun. For reasons not currently understood the sun experiences intermittent sunspot minimum phases — which coincide with reduced energy output. Recently there have been some disquieting signs that something worrying might be transpiring regarding solar output. Last year there was an unprecedented series of occurrences of Sol "going blank" — not a single sunspot on its entire surface — four times within the very short interval of a single year (2016).

The last time such feeble sunspot activity was noted was ten thousand years ago — so far back that scientists had to utilize dendrochronology to find the evidence. Decreased sunspot activity lessens the solar wind, which allows more cosmic rays to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and create heightened levels of carbon-14. Trees capture the uptick in carbon-14 through photosynthesis and date the occurrence in their rings.

Robert Frost said that we all proceed on insufficient knowledge, and there is undoubtedly a dearth of certainty in this most complicated and arcane of subjects. The scientific method addresses our lack of surety, offering us dozens of historic blunders as cautionary warnings to keep emotion and preconceived platitudes to the side in scientific debates. To ignore that convention requires great pretention, the kind which also engenders an overconfident refusal to accept that humanity’s power to impinge on the planet is still somewhat limited.

Far more in line with the facts, it is the Earth that moves forward, inexorably towing mankind along with it. An indication of that self-delusion seems to be a collective blindness regarding the dozens of cyclical glacials and interglacials that are the chronicle of the planet over the last 2.5 million years, ice ages lasting perhaps a hundred thousand years followed by warm periods of 10,000 to 15,000 years. We are currently — thankfully— in one of those clement, warm epochs: the Holocene.

For those who decline to look back 115,000 years ago when the last interglacial ended, the Eemian, a diminished Arctic ice cap can be used to alarm an apprehensive public, quite naturally nervous about this topic. If the last warm period is any indication however, by the end of the Eemian the Arctic ice cap melted completely, every summer — by virtue of what the natural dynamics of the planet required.

All energy is a blessing since heat, light, power and motion mean life — while frost, darkness, entropy and stillness indicate death. Those who are demanding that mankind precipitously throw off its carbon dioxide blanket and insist that billions of individuals and their progeny trudge into the mists of an unknown future with no margin for protection against one of humanity’s oldest, fiercest and most deadly foes — bitter cold—might do well to weigh this matter with extreme care.

David Nabhan is a science writer, the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three previous books on earthquakes. Nabhan is also a science fiction writer ("Pilots of Borealis," 2015) and the author of many scores of newspaper and magazine op-eds. Nabhan has been featured on television and talk radio all over the world. His website is www.earthquakepredictors.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
DavidNabhan
There’s good reason why the sun captured our distant ancestors’ awe-struck attention when Homo sapiens first stood upright. Aside from the most insignificant exceptions, all energy, all food, all warmth and sustenance, all life, comes from Sol.
earth, ice, sun
861
2017-23-25
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 08:23 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved