Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Quote of the Day

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because I see everything by it."

- C.S. Lewis

Snow in October? AGAIN?

Yep. Here we are--it's the end of October, and the snowflakes are blowing and falling as I write this. It's a strange phenomenon, but it's real. This is the second year in a row that we've had snow in late October. This is an unusual occurrence, even here in the mountains of western Virginia. Last year we had about half an inch of accumulation, enough to cover everything; this year we have just a trace of accumulation (so far--we might get more tonight, they say). We haven't even had our first hard frost yet. Must be global warming. (Just kidding.)

Seriously, I think this odd weather has something to do with Solar Cycle 24. If you're not familiar with this, Google it and read a little about it. The Sun has a complex 11-year sunspot cycle, and there is clear scientific evidence--enough to make a convincing theory--that this cycle somehow profoundly affects Earth's weather. Sunspots are magnetically charged regions of the sun's surface from which loops of plasma originate. They're cooler than the surrounding surface areas and have a brownish look to them. They always occur in pairs due to the laws of magnetic polarity, and they can be anywhere from one to three times the size of Earth. Scientific observations show that when there are fewer sunspots, Earth gets colder; when there are more, Earth gets warmer. Scientists don't understand the mechanism by which changes in magnetic solar activity produce climate changes on Earth, but there is clearly a link between the two. I intend to research this topic further and eventually present my findings in a research paper.

Anyway, the current sunspot cycle is rather atypical compared to previous cycles. If you look at a graph or diagram showing the sunspot cycles over the last 100 or so years, you'll notice that the cycles in the early and mid-twentieth century were pretty well defined, with the number of sunspots tending to rise and fall pretty evenly over the course of an 11-year cycle. However, in more recent cycles--those in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century--the sunspot patterns have been getting noticeably more irregular and chaotic. In the current cycle so far--the 24th since scientists have been keeping track--the number of sunspots looks more like a roller coaster than a smooth up-and-down curve. I think this has something to do with our irregular weather patterns and, more broadly, with climate change. I suspect that our weather is changing because the Sun is changing. It's not as stable and unchanging as we often perceive it. Some people may not like to hear this idea, but it may be true just the same. I'm not denying that human activity plays a role in climate change, but I'm convinced that that's only part of the story. The Sun is the primary engine that drives Earth's weather, and it is unquestionably the single most powerful influence on our weather and climate--overwhelmingly more powerful than any other influences.

So don't get worked up about climate change. It's basically a natural phenomenon triggered by solar change, with artificial CO2 emissions being only a minor contributing factor. And we shouldn't worry about the Sun changing either. God is in charge of the Sun and the Earth and everything in the universe. He created the universe and holds it in the palm of His hand. He loves us and we should trust in Him. And He wants us to continue exploring the amazing complexity and mystery of his awesome creation.

The peak of Solar Cycle 24 comes next year, so we can expect plenty more weird weather along with spectacular auroras, powerful solar flares and things like that. Hang on tight and enjoy the ride!