Climate change itself is already in the process of definitively rebutting climate alarmists who think human use of fossil fuels is causing ultimately catastrophic global warming. That is because natural climate cycles have already turned from warming to cooling, global temperatures have already been declining for more than 10 years, and global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more. That is one of the most interesting conclusions to come out of the seventh International Climate Change Conference sponsored by the Heartland Institute, held last week in Chicago.

"Check out the 20th-century temperature record, and you will find that it's up and down pattern does not follow the industrial revolution's upward march of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the supposed central culprit for man-caused global warming and has been much, much higher in the past. It follows instead the up and down pattern of naturally caused climate cycles," says Peter Ferrara, who served as one of the speakers at the conference.

"Temperatures dropped steadily from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. The popular press was even talking about a coming ice age. Ice ages have regularly occurred roughly every 10,000 years, with a new one actually due around now." Ferrara said.

Ferrara adds that "In the late 1970s, the natural cycles turned warm and temperatures rose until the late 1990s, a trend that political and economic interests have tried to milk mercilessly to their advantage." Actually, the incorruptible satellite measured global atmospheric temperatures show less warming during this period than the heavily manipulated land surface temperatures.

But that is not all. Earth is also currently experiencing a surprisingly long period with very low sunspot activity. That is associated with the earth's history with even lower, colder temperatures. The pattern was seen during a period known as the Dalton Minimum from 1790 to 1830, which saw temperature readings decline by two degrees in a 20-year period, and the noted Year Without A Summer in 1816.

Even worse was the period known as the Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1715, which saw only about 50 sunspots during one 30-year period within the cycle, compared to a typical 40,000 to 50,000 sunspots during such periods in modern times. The Maunder Minimum coincided with the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, which the earth suffered from about 1350 to 1850. The Maunder Minimum saw sharply reduced agricultural output, and widespread human suffering, disease and premature death.

The outstanding question now is just how cold this present cold cycle will get. Will it be modest like the cooling from the late 1940s to late 1970s? Or will the lack of sunspots drive us all the way down to the Dalton Minimum, or even the Maunder Minimum?