DailyTech: The sun has reached a milestone not seen for nearly 100 years: an entire month has passed without a single visible sunspot being noted.
In the past 1000 years, three previous such events -- the Dalton, Maunder, and Spörer Minimums, have all led to rapid cooling. On was large enough to be called a "mini ice age". For a society dependent on agriculture, cold is more damaging than heat. The growing season shortens, yields drop, and the occurrence of crop-destroying frosts increases.
Don't get me wrong. We are a long way from being able to say that we are in an extended solar minimum like the one that caused the "Little Ice Age." But, I do find it ironic that many scientists who are absolutely convinced that recent warming is anthropogenic are also being forced to acknowlege the sun's potential role in climate change and that "cold is more damaging than heat." In fact, some scientists estimate that the benefits of global warming may come very close to outweighing its costs. No one argues the same for global cooling.
UPDATE: Er, maybe I spoke too soon. Hmmmm.