Our planet’s magnetic field, and its interactions with the solar magnetic field, plays a large role in planet’s weather.  This story argues that recent magnetic polar shifts have caused an increase in the number and ferocity of superstorms – and speculates that it could trigger the next ice age.

This story in The Economist argues that our magnetic field is about to disappear, at least for a while.  We’re a little overdue for one of the periodic flips or reversals in our magnetic field.  On average they occur every 500,000 years, but can be as close together as 50,000; the last one was 780,000 years ago.

UPDATE : (2/7/11)  Steven Hayward at the Corner

The initial problem for the eco-apocalytpics here is that it offers an alternative explanation for climate change. But that’s not a bug — it’s a feature. All the eco-apocalyptics need is some semi-plausible way to allege human causation for the erratic magnetic fields. Surely before long we’ll hear some Gore-like figure claim that the world’s growing electricity grid, along with all our artificial metal buildings, airplane flights, and so forth, are “confusing” the planet. It’s even better than greenhouse gases. It will require us to shut down virtually the whole of advanced civilization and return to the 17th century — the Unabomber would love it — because even windmills and solar panels won’t save us.

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