Grand Solar Minima – times of peace. Paperback Version available here
It may be counterintuitive: periods of high solar activity and high sunspot numbers – which are associated with a stable and more favorable climate – are also periods of increased mass excitability, war and genocide. In fact, throughout the last millennium, there were 4.6 times as many deaths from war, genocide and persecution during Grand Solar Maxima than there were in Grand Solar Minimum. In contrast, Grand Solar Minima, the ‘bad-weather periods’, were times of relative peace, reason and of improvements of human rights.
In the 1920s, the Russian scientist Alexander Tchijevsky discovered that social excitability, wars and rebellions unfolded primarily at the peaks of the 11-year solar cycles (Schwabe cycles).
I found that within the past 1000 years, what is true for the 11-years cycles, also applies to the non-periodical cycles of Grand Solar Minima and Maxima, recurring roughly every 200 years.
Not only were most mass killings committed during these Grand Maxima, but the corresponding uprisings and rebellions mostly ended up in collectivist, totalitarian systems, that appealed to group ideologies, violent mob rule and imperialism. The narration of the history of this period is intended to illustrate this pattern and to warn of future repetitions. In addition to the multi decadal trends of wars and atrocities, we even find singular battles and mass hysteria in connection with the visible manifestations of high solar peaks, solar storms, visible sunspots and aurora.
This book is about our future as much as it is about the past. Whenever the drop into the next Grand Solar Minimum begins – given the trends of the past continue – we can expect not only some inconvenient material adaptation processes, but ultimately, also a social mood of increased reason, relative peace, rationality and the protection of human rights.
This can give us a time window of between several decades and a hundred years, to find out how we prevent the next round of mass killing and collectivist extremism in the future Solar Maximum. If we succeed, future generations may live in a world more peaceful than ever.
From the Introduction:
During such Grand Solar Minima, we encounter periods – although they involve agricultural and economic downturn – that were characterized by cultural flourishing, philosophical developments in favor of reason, rationality and human rights. Wars and genocides are rare during Grand Minimum.
In this book, we focus on the history of human behaviour and social trends of the last 1000 years, in which 63 % of the deaths from wars, genocide, political purges and so on were accounted for in periods of Grand Solar Maximum or minor Grand Maximum, in comparison, only 13% of the killings took place in the same duration of Grand Minima.
Thus, the higher incidence of mass killings during Grand Minima can be numerically defined. But I found there is not just a general inclination to war as far as quantity goes, but also the trend to irrational and seemingly mindless persecution and massacres. In Part II, by narrating the history of the second millennium from the viewpoint of mass excitability, I intend to illustrate how the mass killings in Grand Maxima were largely conducted under totalitarian, but also collectivist and egalitarian regimes that promised liberation from oppression, appealing to group ideologies and violent mob rule.
At these peaks of Grand Maxima, we see not only conquests and imperialism, but group extremism, purges of the undesired, witch hunts – figuratively as well as literally – and excited masses who seem to forget why they are killing the “others” in the first place.
The term solar historywas applied by the late Astronomer John Eddy in 1994: Solar History and Human Affairs, more specifically to the progression of the sun.[i]I allow myself to re-adapt the term for the present extended observation of solar physical history and human history in the footsteps of Tchijevsky.
The most important phase of the Renaissance unfolded from 1400 to 1600, roughly throughout the Spoerer Minimum; the Age of Enlightenment developed in the later part of the Maunder Minimum (from c. 1715 onward). Both were periods of climate downturn and agricultural difficulties. The first Industrial Revolution lasted from ca. 1760 to ca. 1840, it began at the end of a minor Grand Maximum but flourished mostly during the Dalton Minimum (1790 to 1830).
In the classification system of Usoskin et al, 2011, the Dalton Minimum is not considered as a complete Grand Minimum but rather as a separate state of the dynamo or an unsuccessful ‘attempt’ at reaching a Grand Minimum.[ii]
As Grand Maxima generally lead to agricultural success, they spur economic growth and population expansion, many great organized states and empires flourished in Grand Maxima. Thus, also some improvements in health and general well-being are perceived. This is reflected not only in population expansion but also, for instance in body height, people were taller in Grand Maxima of the past centuries.
But counter-intuitively, Grand Maxima, expressed as “fair- weather- ages”, came with higher food prices and inequality.
I will not give finite explanations for every trend, but I will lay out how the grand solar cycles are imprinted in various fields of social and political developments.
The limited social upheaval that we do find during Grand Solar Minimum are usually local peasant revolts as a direct result of competition for resources. Crop loss and economic strife have led to population reduction and the overthrow of local governments.
In contrast, the large-scale events driven by mass excitability and group madness were observed during Grand Solar Maximum. Among them were most of the collectivist, totalitarian systems such as National Socialism, Socialism/ Communism, different figurative forms of “witch hunts” and even the peak of the actual witch trials was around the 1600 Grand Maximum.
Alexander Tchijevsky successfully assigned social upheaval to these solar Schwabe peaks, but he did not quantify the accumulated death toll from these events, as he focused on motivation and the degree by which people could be riled up for revolutions (in some cases also for positive changes).
He did not provide the backgrounds or the long-term outcomes of these revolutions. Given his own situation in an oppressive collectivist dictatorship, he was not in the position to question whether the Bolshevik Communist revolution had gone wrong and whether it had ended up in a dictatorship. If he had done so, he would have gone to the Gulag before he could publish his work. He never said anything negative about the Soviet Regime. As we’ll see, he was condemned to the Gulag labor camps merely for suggesting that the revolutionary energy of 1905 and 1917 was aided by high solar activity. Tchijevsky measured important historical events without distinguishing between violent events and events leading to sustainable positive developments, or without evaluating the effects of each event for social progress or human rights.
In Part III, we will see many co-effects of Grand Solar Maxima are found in the historical record, many of which went along with excursions of human cruelty and wars. We find well documented aurora during wars and battles as well as solar storms near historical events.
Correlation does not imply causality.
Most people are aware of this fundamental principal of scientific, objective inquiries. In the present case, the correlation is striking, it cannot easily be dismissed as random coincidence. However, I will not attempt to convince anyone of the very likely causal relationship, which would mean the sun’s behavior influences human behavior and the course of history in a dramatic way. Instead, let me make an analogy:
Let’s assume that at full moon days, there were more traffic accidents.
In reality, there are two peaks of increase in traffic accidents in the lunar cycle: one on the day after new moon and a stronger peak around full moon. This is just below the 5% level of statistical significance, p > 0.05.[iii]
I’m told by emergency room staff, they mentally prepare for busy nights with overtime on full moon nights, but not at new moon, so the change is not that noticeable.
Let’s assume, there was a peak only at full moon. If, hypothetically, there were 5% more traffic accidents in the week around full moon than there were in the week of new moon, this would be interesting but would barely have any practical consequences for modern life on Earth. Would you do anything different?
Imagine, on the other hand, that there were 4.6 times as many traffic accidents in the week around full moon than there were in the week of new moon (360% more!), then driving at full moon would probably be restricted by law. At least most people would be cautious, and hardly anyone would say: ‘well, we don’t know how this works and there is no prove that the moon is the cause of the accidents, ‘correlation does not imply causality. Therefore, don’t bother and just keep driving as usual.’
One day we will enter the next Grand Solar Minimum (the current progression of the solar modulation indicates that this could take place in the next few decades). Whenever this drop begins – given the trends of the last millennium continue – we are confronted not just with unpleasant material adaptation processes, but ultimately also with a social mood of increased reason, relative peace and rationality. This may give us a time window of between several decades and 150 years to find out how we prevent the next round of mass killing and collectivist (totalitarian) injustice.
To aid to the solving of this problem is the aim of this book.
[i]Eddy. John A. 1994: Solar History and Human Affairs; Human Ecology, Vol. 22, No. 1, Global Climate-Human Life: Physical Contexts of Historic Landscapes (Mar., 1994), pp. 23-35 p.16
[ii]Usoskin, I. G., et al; 2011: Grand minima of solar activity during the last millennia. University of Oulu Comparative Magnetic Minima: Characterizing quiet times in the Sun and stars Proceedings IAU Symposium No. 286, 2011
[iii]Sitar J.,1994: The effect of the semilunar phase on an increase in traffic accidents. Casopis Lekaru Ceskich. Oct. 10;133(19):596-8