How Energy Made Us (II) – The Sun’s Solar Cycle and the Effect it has on Us





1. Let’s shine a light for evidence-based science. Let’s look at both sides of the coin.

If there’s one thing everyone agrees on, it’s global warming. At least that is what we are told. Researchers seem to agree on the dire effects of anthropogenic warming. Although climate science is not as conclusive as we probably hoped when we look at the actual data. We gain new knowledge by learning how our celestial body influences society. The details in our history books are revealing.

2. From top to bottom on our planet.

There is certainly climate change. Many would agree that CO2 is indeed contributing to the warming of our planet. The question is how much and how much CO2 our oceans can absorb. Many factors are not well understood. The ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide is underestimated. The ocean is one of the least explored areas of our planet, even though it makes up most of the Earth’s surface. The ocean regulates our climate in countless ways. It controls air currents and makes life on land possible. When CO2 levels increase, plant life in the ocean can flourish, as increased CO2 is associated with increased plant growth. Increased algal growth can further increase CO2 absorption and act as a reversal mechanism for CO2 peaks in the atmosphere. Contrary to what is often believed, our climate records show only a weak correlation of CO2 with global mean temperature, and global mean temperature is difficult to define anyway.  The ocean could be one of the reasons why this is the case.

Some, though not all, scientists infer global warming from the temperature records of the last 30 or 40 years.  There has been a trend towards global warming. But the time frame is important. What time series are we looking at? We may inadvertently omit data from Earth’s history. The longer we look back in time, the less evidence we have to rely on. What we are getting at is that it cannot be proven 100% that an increase in CO2 increases the mean temperatures on our planet. We have only sparse data. Moreover, we have to take into account the totality of climatic evidence available to us.

With records going back thousands of years, we need to look for patterns in the relationship between an increase in global average temperatures and mean CO2 levels. We also need to consider regional variations in climate. There are many regions of our planet, including the oceans, about which we have scant information to study.

The sun plays a central role in all of this. The sun is an independent variable that influences the Earth’s climate. Global average temperatures are a dependent variable. Global average temperatures are determined by the activity and cyclicality of the sun. In fact, we see that climate change is driven by the solar cycle. We are at the end of solar cycle 24 and now entering a period of weak solar activity. Earth’s surface climate is multi-layered, with many interlocking effects. This is somewhat in contrast to the other inner planets of our solar system. There are a variety of regulatory motions that keep our planet’s climate within a temperature corridor within a habitable range. Because of these regulatory effects, Earth’s climate fluctuates much less than that of other terrestrial planets.

Many planetary movements are driven by the Earth’s own climate and by neighbouring bodies. Various planetary constellations also affect the Earth’s climate, such as the Moon-Earth cycle, although it is more difficult to determine their statistical significance. Nevertheless, the influence of these constellations on our climate can be determined. The climate is thus determined by internal and external influences. Internal influences play a disproportionately large role in the long-term development of climatic conditions on Earth. The Earth’s own electromagnetic field permeates the atmosphere of our planet.

The earth is a magnet that exerts its force outwards. In this special sense, the earth behaves like the sun. Both magnetic forces, that of the sun and that of the earth, repel each other in space where their force fields collide. This affects the ability of the Sun’s solar wind to penetrate the Earth’s magnetic field in space. The Earth’s magnetic field strengthens and weakens, as with most active planetary bodies. The ebb and flow of magnetic activity is driven by internal heat. It is the movement of the hot inner core of liquefied metal and magma that exerts force and repels the solar winds.  The circulating iron at the heart of our planet is the driving dynamo that keeps the world as fertile as it is.

This circular motion in the Earth’s inner core has long-term effects on the Earth’s climate. There are signs of a reversal of polarity as well as signs of a gradual loss of the very electromagnetic shield that protects us from cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are actually increasing cloud formation, contributing to global cooling. The combination of a weakening solar cycle, a weakening magnetic field and increased exposure to cosmic rays does not point to a future of massive global warming, but leads to another possible outcome, namely global cooling. Different perspectives need to be considered to arrive at the truth, but global cooling needs attention because it has implications for societal development.

3. Light emerges from the sun’s photosphere to nourish life on earth.

History is our guide when it comes to the major global climatic events of the last millennia. Global warming has often been followed by very abrupt and rapid global cooling. It should be noted that all the great civilisations we know of had their rise during warm periods with long growing seasons when they were less susceptible to disease. This is because during global warming, plant life flourishes and is able to support a growing population. And warmer weather allows for greater diversity of life in general, which is confirmed by the historical record.

Many civilisations went into terminal decline during cooler climatic periods with lower average temperatures. When temperatures dropped, agricultural production declined and disease became rampant. The Indus Valley Civilisation, the Babylonians and the Egyptian advanced civilisation fell during periods of crop failure and often lower average temperatures. They devoted their energy to building great monuments. All this happened in warmer climatic periods. The colder periods were often much cooler and also much drier.

Some scientists underestimate how important a wet, moist, warm, sunny climate is to get plentiful harvests which is all too often found in periods of global warming. The most well-known example that comes to mind is the Late Roman Empire collapse, Romans sparring fights with the warrior bands from Northern and Central Europe. We now know from historians that the inhabitants in Northern and Central Europe were starving during the cooler period, eventually they were carving their way through the Roman Empire with the explicit goal to settle and become Roman.


4. The little ice age and society’s energy needs

The Little Ice Age, was a period of great importance. In the early Middle Ages, universities and monasteries were founded and wine could be grown in England. When temperatures dropped abruptly, the world of the early Middle Ages had collapsed.

As crop failures accumulated in a few years, there was a rapid deterioration of the social infrastructure that enabled higher social functioning. The entire machinery of society broke down and with it the feudal structure that fed off the land. The medieval world had no reliable energy resources like oil to continue. The world of that time was seasonal. Progress was made possible year after year by the growth of agricultural yields.

In this way, the early Middle Ages handed over the reins to the darkest period in European history. A weakening sun cooled the climate and when it became cooler, this indirectly affected agricultural production. Due to the colder climate, pest epidemics were able to spread from China to Europe, coincidentally shortly after Marco Polo returned to the city of Venice, which, among other cities, was the pinnacle of achievement in the early medieval world.

The society was completely dependent on agricultural production to feed itself. Biomass and, to some extent, charcoal served as energy sources. However, the production of charcoal required additional energy. Most of the charcoal was needed for the production of steel. Energy poverty, the difficulty of pre-industrial mining and low availability of charcoal meant that steel was a precious commodity. Food crops, charcoal and wood. All these resources were of biogenic origin and 100 % renewable. They needed sunlight, the energy of the sun, to reproduce the same amount of energy-rich biomass year after year. There was hardly any other way to obtain the energy needed to sustain society.

Charcoal was much more expensive than wood. When solar radiation decreased, European society was plunged into an existential crisis. In the Middle East and elsewhere, agricultural production was also affected, but in a different way. The Middle East experienced many dry periods that reduced crop yields. The land gradually became less fertile as the soil was overused and not replenished with vital water. Water, in turn, was needed to make the land productive and create organically rich soil on which to farm. In Europe, there were floods that reduced crop yields and caused periods of famine. In the Middle East, famine was caused by periods of drought. Now we see the close relationship that links water and energy

The sky was full of stars shining for us every night, they seemed so bright and enduring… or so it seemed.

Many thanks for the shared interest in the energy world!

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