What stops the Earth from looking like Pluto is energy from the Sun. The quantity and type of energy coming from the Sun varies over cycles that range up to 1,500 years long. The cycle we can see with our own eyes, in our own lifetimes, is the sunspot cycle that is normally eleven years long.
A decade ago there was a wide range of predictions from the solar physics community about how strong the current cycle, No 24, would be. One list of 45 predictions ranged from a sunspot number of 50 at the low end to 190 at the high end. Strangely, the climate science community at the time had no interest in what the Sun might do.
The predictions at the low end were correct. It has become established—for those who are willing to look at the evidence—that climate will very closely follow our colder Sun. Climate is no longer a mystery to us. We can predict forward up to two solar cycles, that is about twenty-two years into the future. When models of solar activity are further refined, we may be able to predict climate forward beyond a hundred years.
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