The crucial question to ask is whether we can assume, as many do, that this is all part of man-made global warming, today renamed climate change, or whether it can be caused by something quite different: The periodic cycles of solar activity that in the past months have entered what astro-scientists call a "solar minimum." If it is due to the latter, we are spending huge sums on addressing a wrong problem - in fact, trillions of dollars.
Until this July large parts of India were suffering record drought. Chennai reservoirs were down to 0.2% of capacity over the past two years as a severe heatwave saw 99% less water than a year ago. Acute water shortages have forced thousands to flee their villages. Though in early August above-average monsoon seasonal rains relieved the situation in some parts, so far the rainfall is far from adequate to restore empty reservoirs across India.
Comment: ...and that came after all-time record flooding in Chennai, south India just 4 years ago.
In China severe drought has left about 800,000 hectares of crops affected in northern China's Hebei Province with rainfall some 55% below normal. That comes as devastation of China's pig population from the deadly African Swine Fever spreads and crops across the country are being destroyed by a plague of Army Fallworm infestation that is resistant to most weed-killers.
At the same time record rains have devastated agriculture in key growing regions. In the UK excessive rainfall in August has brought the wheat harvest to a halt, according to the National Farmers' Union. Across the US Midwest, record snowfall in winter, coupled with record rains this spring, have severely delayed plantings for corn and soybeans. The twelve months through July have been the wettest on record in the Midwest grain belt resulting in millions of acres going unplanted.
In Africa, Zambia is experiencing the worst drought since 1981, and severe drought in other African countries is reported.
The events have been dramatized by various advocacy groups and political parties as proof that man-made global warming - emissions of CO2 from industry, coal plants, cars and the like - are the cause. We are being inundated with proposals for new taxes in the hundreds of billions of dollars, especially in the European Union - taxes that we are told are needed to solve this problem. But what if we are focused on the wrong cause-effect relation?
Recent research suggests that we have been too limited in our science and are ignoring what is likely orders of magnitude a greater influence in world weather and its shifts than any man-made emissions. What is relevant to this discussion is the fact that no linear climate model used by the UN IPCC or any of the hundreds of climate think-tanks around the world are able to model what is by far the greatest single factor affecting our weather, the "moody" sun.
What astrophysicists have documented is that our sun — by far the greatest factor for whether we experience heat or cold spells, El Nino Pacific events, or severe volcanic or earthquake activity, as in the past months — undergoes a complex cyclical series of intense activity followed by declining activity, activity commonly known as sunspots or solar eruptions, huge electro-magnetic events.
Typically the sun eruptions come in roughly 11 year cycles of peaks and lows. These cycles overlay longer cycles and relate to the highly complex motion of our solar system in the universe. Currently, since 2018, we are experiencing a period of significant decline in solar activity, a solar minimum. The last such was during 2008-2009. There is convincing evidence that this minimum will be what is called a Grand Solar Minimum, far more than any in the recent decades. What are observable effects of such cyclical solar minimum periods?
Cosmic Rays and Clouds
According to astrophysicists, when the sun's magnetic field weakens, the outward pressure of the solar wind decreases. This allows more cosmic rays to penetrate our planet's atmosphere. In turn the cosmic rays hitting Earth's atmosphere create aerosols which, in turn, seed clouds. According to Dr Roy Spencer, "Clouds are the Earth's sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming, or global cooling."
The US Government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says,
"All weather on Earth, from the surface of the planet out into space, begins with the Sun. Space weather and terrestrial weather (the weather we feel at the surface) are influenced by the small changes the Sun undergoes during its solar cycle. The most important impact the Sun has on Earth is from the brightness or irradiance of the Sun itself."What are the effects of weaker solar activity, a more dormant cycle, as we now experience less solar energy or irradiance reaching Earth? In addition to increased cloud coverage globally, the vital jet streams weaken and volcanic activity increases, along with earthquakes, combined with erratic unpredictable weather. The Earth's magnetosphere, which normally locks the Jet Stream in place, weakens, and that in turn causes the stable Jet Stream to shift South as it did in January 2019 in North America, causing the record cold and snows across the US Midwest. In some regions there will be significantly more drought while in others significant flooding, with major effects on world food production one possible result. The weaker solar activity, known as Solar Minimum, also correlates with a global cooling trend. This has been documented going back centuries and longer.
The current solar cycle, called by NASA the Number 24 Cycle, peaked in early 2014 before starting its measurable decline in annual sunspot activity. The minimum is predicted to take place in 2020. It could last for years. Some predict a new "mini Ice Age."
The subject is complex and vastly under-researched as we focus instead almost exclusively on man-made changes or possible changes to our weather with simplistic computer models. If the coming winter in the Northern Hemisphere is anything like the past one, it should prompt us to take this solar component of our climate seriously. By refusing to promote vigorous new research, we run a real risk in coming years of being unprepared for dramatic harvest failures globally at a time when most OECD governments have decided to eliminate emergency public grain reserves, and our food supply is organized on a "just-in-time" system. Science is not about "consensus," but rather about discovering truth, however controversial.
About the author
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.