The decay phase of the sunspot cycle 23 exhibited two unusual features. First, it lasted too long. Second, the interplanetary magnetic field intensity at earth orbit reached the lowest value since in situ measurements in space began in October 1963. These physical anomalies significantly altered the early forecasts for the sunspot activity parameters for cycle 24, made by several colleagues. We note that there was a significant change in the solar behavior during cycle 22. We discuss the observed trends and their effect on our empirical solar activity forecast technique, leading to our prediction for cycle 24 parameters; cycle 24 will be only half as active as cycle 23, reaching its peak in May 2013. We speculate on the possible implications of this outcome on future earth climate change and the ensuing socio-economic consequences.