Do Hibernating Sunspots Portend an Ice Age on Earth?

Forget about global warming; the very near future could be very cold. That is the gist of alarming news concerning the state of spots on the sun.

On June 14, scientists at the National Solar Observatory and at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory reported that the Sun’s recent behavior indicates that a period of unusually low solar activity is about to begin. The last time such a thing occurred was in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It was called the Maunder Minimum and it has been described as a mini ice age. Rivers, which today are ice-free, were frozen, and snowfields remained year round at much lower altitudes than now.

“This is highly unusual and unexpected,” says Dr. Frank Hill of the NSO. “But the fact that three completely different views of the Sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hiberna­tion.”

The news was reported by most of the major media but was soon downplayed by some scientists more heavily in­vested in the idea of global warming. Not surprisingly, Michael Mann, creator of the notorious hockey stick graph which purports to show catastrophically accelerating global warming, was among them. “That (an ice age) is just not going to happen,” he told Wired Magazine.

The key question is whether the dominant influence over Earth’s climate is human activity or the interaction with larger, more cosmic, forces such at solar activity, over which we have little, if any, control. A correct understanding of the problem is fundamental to making proper decisions on exactly how our resources should be allocated. Get the poli­cy wrong and the result could be cataclysmic. Though the notion of man-made global warming has become, in many quarters, the virtual equivalent of received wisdom, the new solar data could prove to be a very inconvenient truth.


Italian Cold Fusion Heads Toward Hot Future

The day of low-cost or virtually free energy may be closer than you think.

Andrea Rossi, the Italian inventor whose E-Cat low energy nuclear reactor has been making news in Europe and in the alternative energy world—while being ignored by the mainstream American press—has announced plans to open his own plant in October.

One E-Cat reactor, it is reliably reported, can produce 4.4 kW of energy. Multiple arrays can be connected in series or parallel to scale up the energy produced. Rossi says a hundred of his reactors are being tested around the world. A million-watt heating plant will ship to Greece soon.

Rossi and his colleague Dr. Sergio Focardi of the University of Bologna have created a low cost, nickel-hydrogen desktop-size reactor. The technology has gone through at least three public demonstrations, the most recent when two Swedish scientists conducted a test. The chairman of the Swedish Skeptics Society and the chairman of the Energy Com­mittee of the Swedish Royal Academy of Science were both allowed to freely examine everything in the setup except the contents of the tiny (50cc) reactor chamber. Both agreed that the energy successfully produced could not be explained by any known chemical process.

More on this from Jeane Manning on page 17.

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