One thing could quash the debate over “global warming” real quick — global cooling — and it could be on the way.

This brave, against-the-grain prognostication that the Earth’s average temperature could be actually starting to decrease comes from agricultural meteorologist Drew Lerner, who in circles of the global warming in-crowd is known as a “denier.”

Apparently this is because his opinion is based on a well-grounded theory that global warming and cooling are largely affected by factors such as solar radiation, Arctic winds, water vapor and the El Niño/La Niña phenomena, and less by the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Lerner’s opinion runs contrary to those of “alarmists” such as Al Gore — who blames man-made global warming for increased hurricane activity, rising sea levels and making him tell a fib about creating the Internet.

Lerner doesn’t say that global warming has not been occurring over the last two to three decades, or that man’s activity has not had an impact on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s just that carbon dioxide doesn’t play as big a role in climate change as other factors do. And those factors, surprisingly, are now pointing toward the Earth cooling its heels.

Lerner is definitely outnumbered by detractors. Recently, the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change estimated that global temperatures will rise 2 to 10 degrees by 2100. A scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., projected a 5-degree increase by the end of the century. And Gore, pre-eminent para-scientist that he is, warns that warming will result in a rise in sea level of 20 feet over the next 20 years, which would put much of the current U.S. coastline under water.

Lerner bases his cooling forecast on cycles of the sun — the single driving force for the entire energy equation on the planet. How much energy we receive from the sun determines how warm or cold temperatures are in the oceans and polar regions, which in turn affects climate.

The amount of energy emitted by the sun started a downward cycle around 1983, according to Lerner. If information Lerner has gathered is correct, there is evidence that a decline in the sun’s energy will correlate to a decline in Earth’s temperatures within 25 to 30 years. If it’s 25 years, the cooling off process should be starting this year and will continue over the next 10 to 15 years. His theory is that it will take a few years before the cooling is uniform throughout the atmosphere. “We could start seeing actual cooler temperatures in 2013 and beyond.”

Lerner qualifies his forecast of cooler weather saying that he nor anyone really has a handle on what moves the global climate, a stand more reputable scientists should take. If Lerner does prove correct, I doubt it would chill Al Gore and his friends, who would simply rev everyone up for the coming Ice Age — while finding a way to blame global warming for it.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com