To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the likelihood and timing of any future phase of global cooling, and (2) the potential impact on the United Kingdom and global economies of any future extensive glaciation; and what precautionary plans they have to limit any damage they predict to the United Kingdom economy and its people from any such extensive glaciation. [HL2653]Meanwhile, over at the BBC:
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The UK government has made substantial investment in research that concerns the likelihood and timing of future changes in global and regional climate.
All of the climate models and policy-relevant pathways of future greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions considered in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) recent Fifth Assessment Report show a long-term global increase in temperature during the 21st century is expected. In all cases, the warming from increasing greenhouse gases significantly exceeds any cooling from atmospheric aerosols. Other effects such as solar changes and volcanic activity are likely to have only a minor impact over this timescale.
With regard to future glaciation the timescales are very long. Changes in the Earth's orbit are considered to have driven the glacial cycles that have occurred every 100,000 years approximately, during the past one million years. The British Antarctic Survey has advised that the Earth is about halfway through the current interglacial period and the onset of the next glaciation is not expected for around 10,000 years at least. Although a future extensive glaciation would have huge geopolitical consequences, the transition into such a state would be slow, allowing for adaptation over many generations.
The slow changes in the Earth's orbit are not, however, expected to cause any net global cooling over the next several centuries, which will be dominated by a warming global climate due to greenhouse gas emissions.
Real risk of a Maunder minimum 'Little Ice Age' says leading scientist
It’s known by climatologists as the ‘Little Ice Age’, a period in the 1600s when harsh winters across the UK and Europe were often severe.The severe cold went hand in hand with an exceptionally inactive sun, and was called the Maunder solar minimum.Now a leading scientist from Reading University has told me that the current rate of decline in solar activity is such that there’s a real risk of seeing a return of such conditions.I’ve been to see Professor Mike Lockwood to take a look at the work he has been conducting into the possible link between solar activity and climate patterns.According to Professor Lockwood the late 20th century was a period when the sun was unusually active and a so called ‘grand maximum’ occurred around 1985.Since then the sun has been getting quieter.By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, he has been able to determine how active the sun has been over thousands of years.Following analysis of the data, Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years....MORE
Not only do we have a disagreement it also appears that Professor Lockwood has had a dramatic change of heart from a "strong-form" Anthropogenic Global Warming view of six years ago:
I only bring this up because of a couple large directional bets that could be influenced by, well, you know, whether it's going to be freakin' hot or 'effin cold.