Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest solar cycle of the past two centuries. They say this will likely lead to unusually cool conditions on Earth. It is also predicted that this cool period will go much longer than the normal 11 year cycle, as the Little Ice Age did. The climate threat is actually cooling, especially to countries like Canada. On the northern limit to agriculture in the world, very little cooling would likely destroy much of its food crops.
The Little Ice Age, the coldest period in the past 1500 years, corresponded perfectly with the Maunder Minimum. There was virtually no sunspot activity for almost seven decades in the Maunder Minimum (Willie Soon/ Harvard/Astrophysics). It turns out that for those 60-70 years the northern half of our globe was in a deep freeze. The New York harbor froze, allowing walkers to journey from Manhattan to Staten Island, and the Vikings abandoned Greenland–a once verdant land that became tundra. In that Little Ice Age, Finland lost 1/3 of its population and Iceland one half.
In the well-known 11-year “Schwabe” sunspot cycle, the output of the sun varies by about 0.1%. Sunspots are violent storms on the surface of the sun. Marine productivity and total irradiance match very well with records that have been kept for centuries on visible sunspots. Hundreds of studies of sunspots and earthly climate indicators (tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula, to water levels of the Nile) show exactly the same thing–that the sun drives climate change.
Even though it has been discovered that the sun is brighter now than anytime in the past 8000 years, the increase in solar output was not calculated to be sufficient to cause all of the past century's modest warming. But that amplifier was discovered(starting in 2002) with scientific papers from Veizer, Shaviv, Carslaw, and most recently Svendsmark (Danish National Space Agency).
All these scientists have proven (particularly w/Svendsmark) that the sun's protective solar wind (from sunspots) blows away deep-space cosmic rays. With fewer sunspots there is less solar wind, more cosmic rays, and more cloud formation from those cosmic rays. More cloud formation means more cooling effect on the planet.
In a 2003 poll, 2/3 of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries did not believe greenhouse gases were the main reason for global warming. It is now beyond 700 scientists. In fact, overlays of CO2 variations show little correlation with earth's climate on long, medium, and even short time scales. The science is nowhere near settled.
Nigel Weiss (Mathematical Astrophysics/Cambridge) states that “Variable behavior of the sun is an obvious explanation.” He admits that we are now living in a period of abnormally high solar activity, and that these hyperactive periods do not last long (50-100 years), then you get a crash. “It's a boom-bust system, and I would expect a crash soon.” And when the crash occurs, the Earth can cool dramatically.
Dr. Kukla (Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences) say he and many others realize that global warming always precedes an ice age. Each lasts about 100,000 years, punctuated by briefer, warmer periods called interglacials. We are in an interglacial now. This ongoing cycle closely matches cyclic variations in Earth's orbit around the sun. Kukla says “The relationship is just too clear and consistent to allow reasonable doubt. It's either that, or climate drives orbit, and that just doesn't make sense.”
No one knows when a “crash” will occur, but scientists expect it soon. Mainly because the sun's polar field is now at its weakest since measurements began in the 1950's. A deep crash last occurred in the 17th century–and it was the Little Ice Age, or the Maunder Minimum. “Having a “crash” would certainly allow us to pin down the sun's true level of influence on the earth's climate,” concludes Dr. Weiss. “Then we will be able to act on fact, rather than from fear.”
It's not likely greenhouse “gassers” will be converted in 12 years. They'll be busy looking for something humans have done to make it so cold.