Ironically, the Brits have been the greatest astronomers when it comes to sunspots, although I believe it might have been a Dutch dude who first spotted them. Maunder noted that a lack of sunspots for 70 years led to a "Little Ice Age" just before the Industrial Revolution's dark Satanic mills blighted the atmosphere and turned Victorian London into a smoggy haze for a century-plus. No sunspots for more than a half-century meant that six 11-year cycles in a row were responsible for famines among which were the terrible crop failures that caused the French Revolution in 1789. Sunspots or the lack of them have political consequences, [and volcanic eruptions such as the horrific one in Iceland in 1785 contributed to said crop failures, I might add.] The summerless year of 1816 had snow on the Fourth of July, as Jefferson noted in his diary. But soon after, the solar cycles began producing more spots. Carrington, who was instrumental in discovering the different types of stars recorded a tremendous flare-up in 1859 that bears his eponymous moniker. So the "recent" 150 years [or more precisely around thirteen 11-year solar cycles up to the year 1998] had plenteous sunspots and a soaring world temperature, aided marginally by Industrial smoke and pollution. But the most recent 11 years leading to 2009 was the 23rd recorded cycle and relatively deficient in sunspot activity with a concomitant decrease in world temps. The Telegraph notes recent weather and food problems:
...... midsummer snow not just in Norway and the Cairngorms, but even in Saudi Arabia. At least in the southern hemisphere it is winter, but snowfalls in New Zealand and Australia have been abnormal. There have been frosts in Brazil, elsewhere in South America they have had prolonged droughts, while in China they have had to cope with abnormal rain and freak hailstorms, which in one province killed 20 people.
None of this has given much cheer to farmers. In Canada and northern America summer planting of corn and soybeans has been way behind schedule, with the prospect of reduced yields and lower quality. Grain stocks are predicted to be down 15 per cent next year. US reserves of soya – used in animal feed and in many processed foods – are expected to fall to a 32-year low.
In China, the world's largest wheat grower, they have been battling against the atrocious weather to bring in the harvest. (In one province they even fired chemical shells into the clouds to turn freezing hailstones into rain.) In north-west China drought has devastated crops with a plague of pests and blight. In countries such as Argentina and Brazil droughts have caused such havoc that a veteran US grain expert said last week: "In 43 years I've never seen anything like the decline we're looking at in South America."
In Europe, the weather has been a factor in well-below average predicted crop yields in eastern Europe and Ukraine. In Britain this year's oilseed rape crop is likely to be 30 per cent below its 2008 level. And although it may be too early to predict a repeat of last year's food shortage, which provoked riots from west Africa to Egypt and Yemen, it seems possible that world food stocks may next year again be under severe strain, threatening to repeat the steep rises which, in 2008, saw prices double what they had been two years before.
All this in the face of Statist Political Elites [led in the US by clueless nerds like Waxman & Pelosi] & Eurotards placing impossible targets for biofuels [which if made from corn and wheat often consume more energy to produce than they emit while used as car fuels]: The Telegraph has a good summary of the self-serving agenda of the control-seeking Eurocrats:
It is appropriate that another contributory factor to the world's food shortage should be the millions of acres of farmland now being switched from food crops to biofuels, to stop the world warming, Last year even the experts of the European Commission admitted that, to meet the EU's biofuel targets, we will eventually need almost all the food-growing land in Europe. But that didn't persuade them to change their policy. They would rather we starved than did that. And the EU, we must always remember, is now our government – the one most of us didn't vote for last week.
However, the current cold snap lasting since 1998 more or less has even NASA predicting that Solar Cycle 24 might be another low-sunspot cycle as was Cycle 23. Ironic, since it is their spurious meteorologist, who in cahoots with a Stanford politicized prof, began the AGW nonsense in the late '80s, after the Global Cooling scare of the '70s had flared up and then disappeared. Maybe this time, NASA has gotten it right.