Vancouver recorded the lowest temperature in forty years last night. Tonight we await the arrival of a blizzard that has already struck Portland and Seattle. This past week it snowed in Las Vegas, Houston and Malibu. My cousin who lives outside of San Diego sent me pictures of snow on the hills near his home.
This is, to say the least, highly unusual stuff.
Of course, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the East are getting whacked with vicious winter storms, but that’s normal. What is not normal is that winter has not yet officially arrived. Starts tomorrow.
Since this has started out to be a record breaking cold winter you might well imagine my surprise when the environmental clergy announced that a necessary step in curbing the planet-threatening advance of global warming would be the taxation of cow farts. Yes indeed, bovine flatulence, we are told, represents a large contributor to greenhouse gases. A tax on each offending cow seems to be the only idea on the table.
My entrepreneurial mind immediately clicked with an alternative. Why not, I mused, instead insert a tube into the anus of each cow and attach to it an inflatable balloon? The captured methane could then be collected and burned to generate electricity! Hey, it’s renewable energy and that’s what we’re looking for, right? I can see no flaw in this proposal.
Having quickly dealt with cow farts, a sacrilegious thought occurred to me: What if these guys are wrong about global warming? What if, instead of warming the planet is actually cooling? What if the school of science that links previous cycles of solar activity (sunspots) to warming and cooling periods on Earth are right and the sun determines these things, not whatever Man may or may not do? The evidence suggests we should give it some consideration… not to mention looking out the window and checking out the temp and snow depth from time to time.
The Maunder Minimum, an extended period of low sunspot activity occurred between 1645 and 1715 and coincides with the Little Ice Age. Cooling and warming periods also correlate with the Medieval Minimum (1040 to 1080) and Medieval Maximum (1100 to 1250) although one has to wonder who was measuring this stuff. Scientists also claim that solar cycles correlate perfectly with warming and cooling periods on Mars. Since I have heard no reports on the discovery of SUVs on Mars, I think we can pretty much rule out human activity having much to do with it.
Solar activity comes and goes on roughly an eleven-year cycle and on that pace does not have a significant impact as the warming and cooling effects get dampened somewhat by the oceans. You may remember from 8th grade science that the oceans cover about 75% of the globe…. A big heat sink. When the sun refuses to adhere to the eleven-year cycle, things can get out of hand. The question: will the current minimum in sunspot activity be a short one, or will we be in for the next ice age?
Bjorn Lonborg in The Skeptical Environmentalist points out that global cooling is a far bigger problem than global warming. Shorter growing seasons and less land mass available for cultivation make food an issue. And, he points out, far more people today die as a result of cold than heat. The consensus among scientists holds that by the end of the century, if global warming were to continue at the pace of the last 50 years, that the Earth would increase in temperature by 2 degrees and the oceans would rise by 8 inches. Not a big problem, and may actually be a benefit as more of the northern latitudes become available for food production.
President-elect Obama promised during the campaign to “save the planet and stop the oceans from rising”. (No point in setting modest goals.) With that in mind, he has loaded his incoming administration with global warming and anti-carbon true believers. They will certainly pursue a series of policies to battle global warming and reduce our national carbon footprint. I think it is worth asking if this is exactly the wrong prescription for what ails us? What if Al Gore and his acolytes are exactly wrong and the Earth is getting colder? What if instead of shutting down coal fired electrical plants and restricting oil drilling we should be doing the opposite, just so we can stay warm in the next decade? What if instead of propping up the auto industry we should be helping out the snowshoe industry? It’s something to think about.
By the way, my wife just informed me our water pipes are frozen in the upstairs bathroom.