July 18, 2013
Sunspots and the Great Cooling Ahead
Presumably, even among the ill-informed ideologues at the White House, there are a few who have heard of sunspots. There may even be one who knows, as most informed persons do, of the correlation between sunspot activity and the earth's climate. But apparently no one has bothered to inform the president.
When sunspot activity is high, as it was during the 1990s and early 2000s, temperatures tend to be high as well. When it is low, as it is now, temperatures fall. And because sunspot activity occurs in decades-long cycles, the unusually cold winter and spring of 2012 may be just the beginning. As a Barron's article recently noted, current sunspot activity is now the least it has been in a century.
What this means is that the era of global cooling has begun. In the northern hemisphere, three out of the four last winters and springs have been unusually cold. This spring was so cold in East Asia that China was forced to import millions of tons of grain and soybeans from the U.S. and other suppliers.
The environmental elitists in Manhattan and Laguna Beach may not be greatly inconvenienced by cold winters, but ordinary people have to eat, too, and food exhausts a much greater share of their income. For the world's poor, a cold year means the difference between eating and going hungry, or between heating one's home and shivering all winter. Or as the philosopher Thomas Hobbes put it (while living through the thick of the Little Ice Age himself), it's the difference between a life that is warm and comfortable and one that is "nasty, brutish, and short." Because climate alarmists are focused on global warming when they should be concerned with cooling, life for the world's poor is likely to be just that.
That is because shortages inevitably result from global cooling. As supplies of foodstuffs and energy become constrained due to cold, damp growing seasons and the need for more heating, a global bidding war arises in which the poor lose out. The environmental elitists will not suffer -- they'll pay more as they roll their overladen buggies out of the local Costco, but what the heck? They can bask in the illusion that they are saving the earth.
But the poor in Mexico and India and here in American will suffer as their lives are shortened by malnutrition and disease. With astounding arrogance, President Obama in his latest budget promises tens of billions more to fund clean energy scams for his billionaire buddies. But has he ever considered, even for one moment, the suffering he has inflicted on the poor by distorting global food and energy markets?
Every year, nearly half of the U.S. corn crop goes up in smoke, burned as corn ethanol, while children in Guatemala lie listlessly in the dust, their bellies swollen with starvation. The president is not there at their side, either literally or figuratively. He is too busy playing golf or vacationing at the billionaire beach houses on Martha's Vineyard or Oahu.
There will be more hungry children once global cooling arrives in earnest. Ocean currents and other influences on the climate undergo natural periods of alteration. Inevitably, natural forces such as those which have increased global temperatures over previous decades will shift from warming to cooling. When this natural alteration coincides with decreased sunspot activity, as is happening at present, the result is extreme cooling. And history has shown that periods of global cooling last for decades, if not for centuries.
While these facts are well known to climatologists, the White House continues to pretend ignorance. Indeed, two weeks ago, the president unveiled a major initiative designed to cool the planet at the very moment when the planet is cooling all on its own. It is fortunate that this foolish plan to lower temperatures by reducing carbon emissions will not work. U.S. carbon emissions are now at the lowest point since 1992, and yet Obama says temperatures have been rising. So how, exactly, has the lowering of U.S. carbon emissions changed the climate?
Just because the president's climate initiative will not work, however, this does not mean that it is harmless. It will continue to harm the world's poor, and every other consumer, by raising the prices of food and fuel. And it will divert capital from the private sector, where it would create prosperity and thus leave us better prepared to face whatever climate issues lie ahead.
As Bjorn Lomborg argues in Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, government spending designed to control the climate would be better spent on real issues of hunger and disease. Or, I would argue, those funds would be best left in the hands of taxpayers. Most taxpayers would invest in businesses that produce jobs and increase prosperity -- including among the world's poor. And most would also donate to churches and charities that make the world a better place for all. But when that money is squandered on Solyndra, it can never be invested, never produce profits, and never rescue the world's poor. Instead, it goes into the pockets of Obama's billionaire buddies.
What America is facing with global cooling is year after year of crop failure, higher heating bills, and general inflation (as the effects of higher food and fuel prices ripple through the economy). The best way to prepare for this crisis is to unleash the powerful forces of the free market, thus creating prosperity for all and putting our nation in the position to prosper no matter what.
Instead of preparing for the climate crisis ahead, Obama kowtows to coastal environmentalists in return for donations. In doing so, he shows a complete lack of concern for the poor in this country and abroad -- those who will suffer the most in the bidding war for food and energy once the effects of the Great Cooling are felt. As the climate cools, hundreds of millions in America and abroad will lack the resources to feed themselves or heat their homes.
By then, of course, Obama will already have left office and will presumably be sunning himself on some balmy Hawaiian beach. He will not have to suffer from the effects of his policies, but those who do should not forget that it was this president who squandered our chances of preparing for the Great Cooling. More than anything, Obama's legacy may be that he was the fool who believed, or pretended to believe, that closing a few power plants would cool the planet just when the planet was already in the process of cooling. He is the one who looked in the rearview mirror and prepared for global warming just as he was about to crash head-on into the exact opposite.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books on American politics and culture, including Heartland of the Imagination (2013).
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