Historically, solar minimums only cause a temperature drop of a few tenths of a degree Fahrenheit. This one, forecast to reach its nadir in 2019 or 2020, might not be any worse than that. However, sunspots have been known to go AWOL for longer periods — as they did during the so-called Maunder Minimum, which began in 1645 and lasted 65 years. Then, global temperatures fell by more than 1 degree — hardly an ice age, but enough to cause the River Thames to ice over in London and to trigger widespread crop failure across Europe.
The recent early snow event is a reminder that forecasting the weather is a dicey business, and all the more so predicting the long-term effects of climate change. Nevertheless, there’s always someone willing to venture out on thin ice. Climate Depot founder Marc Marano, a global warming skeptic, reminds readers that in 2000, climate scientist David Viner predicted that winter snowfall would soon become “a very rare and exciting event,” eventually going the way of the woolly mammoth. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.”
A generation later, snow is still the stuff of childhood wonder and not rare enough for the likes of their unhappy parents. Boston meteorologist Barry Burbank observes that winter snowfall in New England has hardly vanished. Rather, it has fallen in record amounts. Between 2008 and 2018, the Northeast has endured 29 extreme winter storms — and this before the onset of the unfolding solar minimum. By comparison, no decade tracing from the 1950s has seen more than 10.
Investment prospectuses frequently advise clients, “Past performance is no guarantee of future performance,” and that’s true about predictions of the weather, too. A hundred years of climate statistics is but the blink of an eye in the billions and billions of years of the life of the planet.
Climate change activists usually ignore all that, convinced their snapshot of current weather patterns represents all time. The United Nations Intergovernmental Conference on Climate Change warned during a fearful meeting in South Korea last month that the world has only a dozen years left to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius, or calamity will befall us all.
Temperature readings have not kept pace with the predicted rise in greenhouse gas concentrations resulting from human activity, but representatives from nearly 200 nations are nevertheless expected to gather in Poland Dec. 2 to draw up rules honoring the Paris Climate Agreement, meant to turn down the global thermostat, starting in 2020. President Trump won’t be there. Like a lot of Americans keeping an eye on the sky, he might be busy sharpening his skates.