Jimmy Westlake: What’s up with the sun?

Jimmy WestlakeBy Jimmy Westlake 

There are few things in our lives that seem as constant and dependable as the sun. Day after day, it provides the warmth and energy that we must have to survive on this planet. Without it, Earth would be in an unimaginable deep freeze near absolute zero.

So, it comes as a bit of surprise when we learn the sun is misbehaving a bit and not following its usual routine. The routine is this: Every 11 years, the number of sunspots and other active regions on the sun reach a frenzy of activity, followed by a period of relative calm. Like a heartbeat of cosmic proportions, this 11-year rise and fall in solar activity has gone on for decades, even centuries, with few interruptions. The last solar maximum occurred between the years 2001 and 2002, when giant sunspots and record-breaking solar flares erupted into space. Clouds of charged particles from the sun generated brilliant displays of the Northern Lights over Colorado and points even farther south. Since then, solar activity has waned, as expected when nearing the end of a solar cycle and another solar minimum.

The problem is that this solar minimum is lasting for an uncomfortably long time. The average solar cycle lasts for 131 months, or about 10.9 years. The current cycle already has lasted 144 months (12 years) and we are still counting. Sunspots during the last two years have been scarcer than hen’s teeth, and the few that have appeared have been tiny and short-lived. Every morning, I check out the daily image of the sun on www.spaceweather.com and scan for sunspots, but every day it’s the same story: “The sun is blank today — zero sunspots.” The last time the sunspot cycle went into extended hibernation was during the so-called Maunder Minimum between the years 1645 and 1715. This period coincided with Europe’s “Little Ice Age,” one of the most dramatic episodes of global cooling in recorded history.

Read the rest of this piece at Steamboat Pilot & Today.

7 Responses to Jimmy Westlake: What’s up with the sun?

  1. Rob N. Hood October 1, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    Hundreds more methane plumes have been discovered in the Arctic raising fresh fears that the greenhouse gas is contributing to global warming…

    …A British team of scientists found the gas, which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, being released from the seabed to the west of the Norwegian island of Svalbard.

    The findings follow the revelation earlier this week that Russian scientists have discovered vast quantities of methane being released by the melting permafrost from the seabed off Siberia.

    Scientists believe that sudden releases of methane have, in the past, been responsible for increasing global temperature, dramatic climate change and the extinction of species.

    And, as global climate change apparently takes hold, the U.S. and it’s financial elites prepare to exploit the arctic for oil:

    Methane released in the Arctic could raise global temperatures.

    ‘Arctic Map’ could help divide natural resources.

    America to probe Arctic for oil as sea ice melts- yipee!

    I don’t know about you, but this reminds me of the sort of hubris that always leads to powerful societies destroying themselves and decimating their neighbors in the process.

  2. Dan McGrath October 1, 2008 at 10:27 pm #

    What “warming?” Where?

  3. Rob N. Hood October 3, 2008 at 7:24 am #

    According to your new articles, you are now apparently and global-cooling or Little Ice Age adherant. Didn’t you make fun of those who in the 70’s predicted the same thing? It’s could be true that both phenomena are occurring at the same time, and the scientists on each side of these issues have findings to legitmately support their studies. If that is the case, and I have an open enough mind to consider that as being a possiblity, then the question remains… which will overcome the other? The chances are slim I’m sure that one will cancel the other out completely so we don’t need to worry about either issue. On the other hand, the so-called cooling may just be hype perpetrated by the very powerful and rich oil elite who want to maintain the staus quo as long as possible becuase they are greedy and don’t give a damn about anybody else but themselves and their mansions and their piles of money.

  4. Dan McGrath October 3, 2008 at 8:20 am #

    The point of the articles about cooling is to demonstrate what this site has been saying all along. The sun is the prime mover in the Earth’s ongoing cycle of climate changes. The sun is chilling out right now and it’s cooling. When the sun gets more active, it will warm. This is the way it has always been. There is no evidence to prove anything new or different is happening.

    Looking at the Earth’s natural cycle and attempting to assign man’s behavior as a cause reminds me of sacrificing virgins to appease the volcano in an attempt to prevent the angry mountain from burning up the village. I find it disconcerting that people are still so primitive.

    The obvious answer for changes in the Earth’s climate is to look at what caused it in the past. Mankind’s “sinful” ways aren’t to blame for natural forces and making sacrifices won’t appease the sun. The sun is a giant ball of hydrogen in a nuclear reaction producing helium. It doesn’t care what kind of car you drive or if you forget to put out your recycling.

  5. Flanagan October 9, 2008 at 1:36 am #


    how exactly is it that you postulate without any evidence that the sun is responsible for the observed warming? I mean, why are you completely disregarding all the studies showing that the 20th century warming cannot be related to solar activity? There are numerous scientific papers about this, including Scafetta et al.

    By the way, the global temperatures are up again since la nina ended in June. How exactly do you correlate this with the solar activity?

    It is true that the sun is a giant ball blablabla. But a very, very far away giant ball. If you had done some physics or maths once in your life, you would have learned that the cross-section between the solar winds/heat flux and earth is such that only an infenitisimal part of the energy released by the sun actually reaches earth.

  6. Dan McGrath October 9, 2008 at 8:33 am #

    It’s a good thing only a tiny portion of the sun’s energy reaches the Earth! That doesn’t change the fact that more solar activity means more heat.

  7. Flanagan October 9, 2008 at 8:59 am #

    It actually also means that only a fraction of the change in activity will effectively affect earth. The total heat varies by only a few percents.

    By the way, do you know that if the warming was due to the sun, the upper atmosphere should be the most rapidly warming part of the atmosphere? And when you realize it’s actually cooling…

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