What if the warmth the world has enjoyed for the past 50 years is the result of solar activity, not man-made CO2?
In a letter to the editor of Astronomy & Astrophysics, IG Usoskin et al produced the "first fully adjustment-free physical reconstruction of solar activity". They found that during the past 3000 years the modern grand maxima, which occurred between 1959 and 2009, was a rare event both in magnitude and duration. This research adds to growing evidence that climate change is determined by the sun, not humans.
Yet during the past 20 years the US alone has poured about $US80 billion into climate change research on the presumption that humans are the primary cause. The effect has been to largely preordain scientific conclusions. It set in train a virtuous cycle where the more scientists pointed to human causes, the more governments funded their research.
At the same time, like primitive civilisations offering up sacrifices to appease the gods, many governments, including Australia's former Labor government, used the biased research to pursue "green" gesture politics. This has inflicted serious damage on economies and diminished the West's standing and effectiveness in world affairs.
University of Pennsylvania professor of psychology Philip Tetlock explains: "When journal reviewers, editors and funding agencies feel the same way about a course, they are less likely to detect and correct potential logical or methodological bias." How true. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its acolytes pay scant attention to any science, however strong the empirical evidence, that may relegate human causes to a lesser status.
This mindset sought to bury the results of Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark's experiments using the Large Hadron Collider, the world's most powerful particle accelerator. For the first time in controlled conditions, Svensmark's hypothesis that the sun alters the climate by influencing cosmic ray influx and cloud formation was validated. The head of CERN, which runs the laboratory, obviously afraid of how this heretical conclusion would be received within the global warming establishment, urged caution be used in interpreting the results "in this highly political area of climate change debate". And the media obliged.
But Svensmark is not alone. For example, Russian scientists at the Pulkovo Observatory are convinced the world is in for a cooling period that will last for 200-250 years. Respected Norwegian solar physicist Pal Brekke warns temperatures may actually fall for the next 50 years. Leading British climate scientist Mike Lockwood, of Reading University, found 24 occasions in the past 10,000 years when the sun was declining as it is now, but could find none where the decline was as fast. He says a return of the Dalton Minimum (1790-1830), which included "the year without summer", is "more likely than not". In their book The Neglected Sun , Sebastian Luning and Fritz Varenholt think that temperatures could be two-tenths of a degree Celsius cooler by 2030 because of a predicted anaemic sun. They say it would mean "warming getting postponed far into the future".
If the world does indeed move into a cooling period, its citizens are ill-prepared. After the 2008 financial crisis, most economies are still struggling to recover. Cheap electricity in a colder climate will be critical, yet distorted price signals caused by renewable energy policies are driving out reliable baseload generators. Attracting fresh investment will be difficult, expensive and slow.
Only time will tell, but it is fanciful to believe that it will be business as usual in a colder global climate. A war-weary world's response to recent events in the Middle East, Russia's excursion into the Crimea and Ukraine and China's annexation of air space over Japan's Senkaku/Daioyu Islands has so far been muted. It is interesting to contemplate how the West would handle the geopolitical and humanitarian challenges brought on by a colder climate's shorter growing seasons and likely food shortages. Abundance is conducive to peace. However, a scenario where nations are desperately competing for available energy and food will bring unpredictable threats, far more testing than anything we have seen in recent history.
During the past seven years, Australia has largely fallen into line with Western priorities and redistributive policies. It is reminiscent of a family that has inherited a vast fortune constantly fighting over the legacy but showing little interest in securing the future.
However, a country that is so rich in nature's gifts should not be complacent or assume that in other circumstances there will not be adversaries prepared to take what we have.
But, in times of peace and when government debts and deficits are growing daily, it is hard to persuade voters to trade off immediate benefits for increased defence spending, let alone prepare them, after all the warming propaganda, that global cooling is a possibility.
Yet the global warming pause is now nearly 18 years old and, as climate scientist Judith Curry says, "attention is moving away from the pause to the cooling since 2002". Anastasios Tsonis, who leads the University of Wisconsin Atmospheric Sciences Group, talks of "massive rearrangements in the dominant pattern of the weather".
But the political establishment is deaf to this. Having put all our eggs in one basket and having made science a religion, it bravely persists with its global warming narrative, ignoring at its peril and ours, the clear warnings being given by Mother Nature.
Voltaire was right when he said: "Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy, the mad daughter of a wise mother. These daughters have too long dominated the Earth." Indeed.
Maurice Newman is chairman of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council. The views expressed here are his own.