In 1980 the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were 337 parts per million (PPM). Or 0.0337% of our atmosphere.
In 2015 the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were 388 parts per million. 0.0388% of our atmosphere.
That is a 15.13% increase in CO2 over a 35 period. Or a 0.0051% increase compared to our entire atmosphere.
During that time period we experienced global warming during the 1980s and early 1990s. After 1993 however we reached a point which has puzzled advocates of global warming - something known as the Global Warming Pause.
From 1993 to present, the global average temperature has fluctuated up and down, often due to the El Nino and La Nina fluctuations of global temperatures.
Note - I disagree with the image below. It is actually no global warming for 23 years.
I should also note that there is some confusing and conflicting statements coming from different scientific organizations - including the United Nations and IPCC. Some charts showing that the global average temperatures are simply fluctuating up and down each year, and others showing that the temperatures are going up dramatically and steadily.
Now here is my problem with this. Climate change is happening, that much I agree with.
But I am not so sure any more if it is global warming.
Yes, CO2 levels are up.
Yes, climate change is happening.
But is the temperatures actually getting warmer? Or are we just getting increasingly weird weather? Sometimes warm and sometimes cold.
In the last few years I have personally witnessed record heat and record cold. Including snow in the southern United States and record heat in parts of Canada. Something weird is indeed happening.
And yes, CO2 probably is playing a role in the changes. But what other causes could be happening?
Back in the 1970s we actually experienced global cooling, which got scientists worried that we were due to for either a mini ice age or a big ice age. That ice age, big or small, never happened however.
Then in the 1980s we had global warming, a significant and sudden change from the cooler temperatures of the 1970s.
And since 1993 we have seen wild fluctuations up and down of global average temperatures. Often due to El Nino and La Nina.
But we cannot blame 1970s cooling or the 1980s warming on CO2 levels, because CO2 levels was rising during both those periods.
According to solar physicists however there is another answer: Sun Cycles.
Solar physicists have known about sun cycles for hundreds of years now, ever since they first started tracking sun spots. Below is a record of sun sport observations going back to the early 1600s. During the 1970s we saw a blip in cooler temperatures at the same that solar physicists saw a blip in lower sun activity.
It doesn't end there either. Temperature fluctuations (for as long as scientists have been measuring global temperatures) quite often match up to higher and lower sunspot activity, with rare exceptions during El Nino and La Nina years.
Indeed "Mini Ice Ages" happen quite often, as they are essentially periods of extended colder weather. Not huge glacier periods, like the big ice age that ended 12,000 years ago, but comparatively small. And each time the reduced solar cycles correspond with historical periods wherein there was colder weather.
Thus we really need to be looking at climate change in a new way - a combined way.
El Nino and La Nina - which are surprisingly good at altering our climate.If we only keep track and worry about greenhouse gases then we are only worrying about one third of the problem.
Sun Activity and Sun Cycles - the Earth's largest heat source.
Greenhouse Gases (CO2, Ozone, etc).
Or possibly less than one third, when you consider that the sun is 1.3 million times the size of the earth.
51 extra PPM of CO2 (0.0051% of our atmosphere) seems pretty small when you consider the incredible mass and size of the sun.
If the sun's energy output drops just 0.01%, that is still dramatically more of a difference than the 0.0051% increase in the popularity of CO2 in our atmosphere over the past 35 years.
Except the sun's energy output isn't expected to drop 0.01%.
According to European solar physicists, who are currently predicting the sun is about to enter a new Maunder Minimum - heralding a mini ice age lasting from approx. 2020 to 2070, the temperature output from the sun is expected to drop between 0.09% and 0.12% during the height of the mini ice age.
So not a little change. A lot. Expect to see the largest decline in the global average temperatures scientists have seen in roughly 350 years.
Since records have been only been kept since the 1600s, and more accurate records kept since 1750 we track Solar Cycles by giving them a number in which they came in. We are currently in Solar Cycle 24, as shown below.
Above you can also see Solar Cycle 22, during which the topic of Global Warming became a big thing in the media. You can also see it go back down dramatically around 1993, coinciding with the beginning of the Global Warming Pause.
Solar Cycle 23 you can see was weaker, and Solar Cycle 24 weaker still. In the graphic below you can see Solar Cycle 24, with recent data up to February 2016. The red line shows an earlier prediction of sun activity, and the blue line shows the average recorded activity smoothed out for comparison purposes.
So are we in any danger from Global Cooling / a Mini Ice Age? Nope. It will just be cooler compared to the global warming of the 1980s. Expect the global average temperature to drop approx. 1 degree in the 2020 to 2030 period, and progressively lower temperatures until we finally see a warming period after 2050.
The real danger is what happens when society wakes up and realizes that those damn conservatives were right, and global warming wasn't being caused by CO2 at all. Scientists will have lost credibility.
We have all heard the statistics. "97% of scientists agree that global warming is real and happening." Apparently the other 3% of scientists are either solar physicists or scientists who agree with solar physicists that the real cause is the sun.
If the 3% is proven right, it will cast doubt on future generations of scientists. People won't take scientists seriously because it will be Chicken Little shouting "The sky is falling."
And that sets a dangerous precedent in many parts of the world (eg. the USA) where scientists are already often ignored and marginalized.
In the grand scheme of things it may not matter. We are currently in an interglacial period any way. We are overdue for a big ice age, as they normally reach a pinnacle and then drop back down into a glacial ice age. We are a few thousand years overdue.