Given the facts that emerge from observation and analysis, it’s right to raise the question. The world’s most qualified solar physicists are posing the question. Go here and here. It is now possible to read this 1998 paper with renewed interest.
The comments of one of the leading researchers, Dr. Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory's Solar Synoptic Network, is telling:
"We are NOT predicting a mini-ice age. We are predicting the behavior of the solar cycle. In my opinion, it is a huge leap from that to an abrupt global cooling, since the connections between solar activity and climate are still very poorly understood. My understanding is that current calculations suggest only a 0.3 degree C decrease from a Maunder-like minimum, too small for an ice age. It is unfortunate that the global warming/cooling studies have become so politically polarizing."
Let's parse this statement. First of all, even after the firestorm of criticism Hill received, he stands by his prediction that we are about to exprerience a Maunder-like minimum. Secondly, he notes that current calculations suggest that mean global temperatures will drop "only" 0.3 degrees C as a result, not enough for an Ice Age. Fair enough. However, global mean temperatures have "only" risen 0.4 degrees C in the last 60 years [see this graph; to be clear, in the wake of data showing a precipitous drop of 0.2 degrees C between 1940 and 1950, meterologists and climate researchers spoke for a time of global cooling; the media spoke of an Ice Age]. In short, if the current calculations are correct, the global mean temperatures will drop to 1970 levels in the mid-term. The Maunder Minimum of "Little Ice Age" fame lasted 70 years.
Expect global cooling alarmisn as soon as temperatures start to drop.
As far as I can see, global warming alarmism is a kind of misdirected redirection of felt truths - after all, we all know our habits and government policies around the world are anything but eco-friendly -not a consequence of science rightly so-called. As for the hay the libertarian right is making of the deflation of the previous consensus, we all know what that’s about. Not only does business have nothing to learn from the likes of Ayn Rand. Neither does science.
UPDATE: Hank Campbell on Science 2.0 calls for the IPCC to clean up its act. SECOND UPDATE: There are plenty of anti- global warming hacks in circulation. The sanest anti-alarmist voice I know of is that of Freeman Dyson. Go here and here.
"Large-Scale Zonal Flows During the Solar Minimum -- Where Is Cycle 25?" by Frank Hill, R. Howe, R. Komm, J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, T.P. Larson, J. Schou & M. J. Thompson. abstract
"A Decade of Diminishing Sunspot Vigor" by W. C. Livingston, M. Penn & L. Svalgard. abstract
"Whither Goes Cycle 24? A View from the Fe XIV Corona" by R. C. Altrock. abstract