Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The sort of stuff that doesn't get on telly.
A few months ago, I had plotted the Average Geomagnetic Planetary Index (Ap) which is a measure of the solar magnetic field strength but also daily index determined from running averages of eight Ap index values. Call it a common yardstick (or meterstick) for solar magnetic activity.
I had noted that there was a curious step function in 2005, almost as if something had “switched off”....
As of June 2008, we now have 32 months of the Ap hovering around a value just slightly above zero, with occasional blips of noise.
What is most striking is that since 1932, there have not been ANY years prior to 2007 that have zero data. The closest was 1996:
1996 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
YEAR JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC TOTAL
2005 3 0 2 1 3 2 2 2 3 0 0 0 18
2006 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5
2007 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2008 0 0 0 0 0 0
Now we have almost two years.
It does look like there is a very strong chance the sun is going into a quiet phase. If so global warming will be the very least of our problems. I don't want to replace one hysteria with another & we are still dealing with speculation rather than anything close to certainty but it is still a proper reason for concern.
Certainly cold periods are a lot worse than warm ones & the Little Ice Age was not fun.
The solution is technology. I don't mean pumping out more CO2 though that wouldn't do any harm I mean stuff like building enough nuclear capacity to not only keep the lights on but to keep us warm. Beyond that the best place to terraform the planet from is from orbit. One cure to warming was orbiting sunshades - a cure for cooling would be to turn them round & use them as orbital mirrors. A few hundred square miles of tinfoil (you can build enormous structures of very thin tinfoil when you are in a place with no weather or gravity). The bottom line is that we have the capacity to become a truly spacefaring species now & we should do it.