A recently published paper suggests that the peaks of the next two solar cycles are likely to have greatly reduced sunspot activity similar to solar cycles 5 & 6 during the Dalton Minimum of 1790 to 1830. Solar records going back over 11,000 years have been correlated with planetary ephemeris and the results appear to show that solar cycles are affected by the position of the solar system’s outer gas giants Uranus and Neptune.
However I’m not sure what is more depressing: the thought that I’m unlikely to see a solar maximum in which ten metres is wide open for worldwide propagation during my lifetime, or the reaction of some of our fellow amateurs to the news on QRZ.com. “WHY CRY about it? Buy a BIGGER antenna & amp for the bands you enjoy & have FUN!” read one comment. “All the whiners about hams using kilowatt amps will be crying constantly. Life is too short for QRP.” went another.
QRPers have been having fun throughout the extended solar minimum of the last few years and will no doubt continue to do so despite the dearth of sunspots. What is sadder, in my opinion, is the passing of an era when radio amateurs were all thoughtful, intelligent, articulate, considerate and gentlemanly individuals who treated their fellow enthusiasts, whatever their interests, with respect.