HP Lovecraft ends the first section of his (utterly magnificent) ‘The Shadow out of Time’ with the words:
“. . . of the orthodox economists of that period, Jevons typifies the prevailing trend toward scientific correlation. His attempt to link the commercial cycle of prosperity and depression with the physical cycle of the solar spots forms perhaps the apex of . . .”
Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee had come back—a spirit in whose time-scale it was still that Thursday morning in 1908, with the economics class gazing up at the battered desk on the platform. [Added internal link]
(Scientific correlation, as we know from the first line of ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ and elsewhere, can be terrifying.)
The solar system, gauged by mass, consists almost entirely of the sun. Sol accounts for 99.86% of it. Quantity isn’t everything, but insofar as it’s anything, this has to matter — a lot. The sheer magnitude of our solar dependency is hard to even fractionally comprehend. What the sun does is what happens. The earth is its crumb. Our biosphere suckles it. Our civilizations are so far downstream of it, feeding second or third hand on its emissions, if not more distantly, that we easily lose all track of the real flow. As economies sophisticate, the relays proliferate. Perhaps this is why the messages of the sun are so inattentively received, despite rapid improvement in the technical and cultural tools required to make sense of them.
The rotary motions of the earth — axial and orbital — provide the traditional structure of time, typically attributed to the sun by solar cults. These periods, lengths of the day and the year, are now clearly understood as planetary peculiarities. The sun’s own rhythms are quite different.
Nothing that mankind has ever yet been able to achieve, or fail to achieve, in respect to social or civilizational stability, balances formidably against the immense quasi-stability of the sun, which mocks every ideal of securely founded order. The sun’s meandering rhythms of activity, whose patterns remain profoundly cryptic, mark out epochs of the world, hot eras (distant beyond all species memory), glacials and interglacials, and within these multi-millennial tracts of time, lesser oscillations in temperature — periods of cooling and warmth. It is upon this vast thermic stage that history has played out, its comedies and tragedies carried by plot-lines of nutritional abundance and dearth, trade-surpluses and starvations, population ascent and crash, driven migrations, shifting disease gradients, luxury and ruin. Against solar fatality there is no rejoinder.
Irrespective of the accuracy or error of our dominant climate change narrative, its fundamental religious stance is determined at the root. Geocentric-humanism is essential to it, as openly attested by its Anthropogenic definition. It cannot, by its very nature, emphasize the factor of solar variation. At least, if or when it is eventually compelled to do so, it is necessarily transformed into something else.
If we speculate that the global warming ‘hiatus‘ or ‘pause‘ signals the submission of terrestrial climate to solar behavior, in which anticipated anthropogenic effects are cancelled out by fluctuation in the sun’s energy output, the dominant AGW school is confronted by an extreme ideological dilemma. Naturally, alternative theoretical options will be pursued to exhaustion first.
To persist in the core AGW proposal then requires that ‘underlying’ cooling — on the down-slope of solar flux — is sufficient to submerge the anthropogenic-carbon (‘greenhouse’) effect. The stronger the warming that should have been seen, the more suppressive the solar influence has to be. An apocalyptic warming scenario, of the kind loudly prophesied in the 1990s, implies that a calamitous counter-cooling has been fortuitously avoided. (Carbon dioxide emissions would then find themselves positioned as climatic analogs of macro-economic quantitative easing, prolonging a state of stagnation that would ‘surely’ otherwise be a catastrophic depression.)
Whatever the climatic consequences or rising atmospheric CO2, it is implausible to imagine that the solar cycle can be neglected indefinitely. Its absence from the center of the climate debate is in large measure an artifact of obscure cultural-religious imperatives (aligned with the dominion of geocentric-humanist moralism). We know enough to understand that the solar influence is not a prop for shallow terrestrial stability. Eventually it will announce itself, with civilization-shaking severity. However climate science charts the near future, it will forge cultural connections with far older — and non-negotiable — things.
ADDED: This cried out to be tacked on.
ADDED: GW versus prediction, with more back-story (as requested by the Captain, below) —
ADDED: Matt Ridley on the pause.