We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Laugh or cry

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the Beeb’s latest gaseous emanation regarding global warming.

Now, I am no climate scientist, but I harbor a suspicion that maybe, just maybe, one factor impacting on the Earth’s climate just might be – now, I’m just throwing this out – the sun. I find discussion of the sun’s impact on global weather to be oddly absent from the reams of paper speculating on how minute variations in various gases here on earth may affect climate, rather like speculating on how adjusting the air pressure in your tires a few ounces might affect fuel efficiency without ever considering the, well, fuel you are putting in the tank.

I have noted the occasional article exploring the correlation between temperature variations and solar activity, and so I read this with interest:

Scientists based at the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich used ice cores from Greenland to construct a picture of our star’s activity in the past.

They say that over the last century the number of sunspots rose at the same time that the Earth’s climate became steadily warmer.

However, the scientists made sure that the reigning anti-materialist orthodoxy of those providing their grants was not called into question by these merely scientific observations, scurrying to observe:

This trend is being amplified by gases from fossil fuel burning, they argue.

and

This latest analysis shows that the Sun has had a considerable influence on the global climate in the past, causing the Earth to warm or chill, and that mankind is amplifying the Sun’s latest attempt to warm the Earth.

The notion that non-human forces might occasionally affect the Earth’s weather can not quite be denied:

Over the past few hundred years, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of sunspots, a trend that has accelerated in the past century, just at the time when the Earth has been getting warmer.

The data suggests that changing solar activity is influencing in some way the global climate causing the world to get warmer.

but of course if this truth were recognized then it would quite knock the props out from under the latest rush to regulate under the banner of Kyoto and global warming. Even when evidence of the obvious – that the sun’s output is what really controls global temperature, and that global temperature swings regardless of human activity – is presented, it must be spun so that human agency, and thus the need for regulation, is paramount.

Laugh or cry? I can not quite decide.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

26 comments to Laugh or cry

  • Those sun spots not caused by co2 emissions from SUVs are a direct consequence of the illegal acts of Blair-Bush. Don’t try to shift blame to the sun.

  • I read the article and had the same reaction. It seems that the “amplification” part was thrown in there just so the researcher could remain viable.

  • Harry

    I agree. The justification for the silly claim is in the 3rd paragraph from the bottom:

    Over the past 20 years, however, the number of sunspots has remained roughly constant, yet the average temperature of the Earth has continued to increase.

    This really gives the game away to anybody with a clue. The claim that anthropogenic gas emissions are warming the earth is based on only 20 years of data? I suspect this tidbit is a coded transmission from Professor Solanki to his colleagues that would translate to: “Yes, this is bullshit. But it’ll keep me funded for another year.”

    I’m just surprised not to have found the word “Kyoto” in the article.

  • Foobarista

    Money quote:

    “This latest analysis shows that the Sun has had a considerable influence on the global climate in the past, causing the Earth to warm or chill…”

    Now, about that Nobel…

    –Foobarista

  • Pete(Detroit)

    The thing that *I* find laughable is the concept that we humans have a significant effect on the CO2 content of the atmosphere. I find it difficult to buy that compared to volcanos, forest fires (half of Alaska is currently trying real hard to become all CO2) and termite farts (major methane production, and methane is MUCH more effective ‘greenhouse gas’ than CO2) our emmissions are significant. Humans Just Ain’t THAT big a deal. Granted, a human lit southern California last year. Granted, Saddam lit Kuwait – THAT might have been significant. But sheet, people, plant a tree and get OVER it already…

  • bic

    Water vapor is the ‘greenhouse gas’ that far exceeds all the others … stand outside on a muggy night and a clear night and see for yourself. It is, ‘by custom’ omitted fom the data in most studies reported by the politically correct.

  • lindenen

    I’m pretty sure I’ve also read that NASA found that the surface of Mars is melting.

  • Mashiki

    A couple of weeks back, I was looking at a graph of CO2, sun output and tempature readings over the last 800 million years or so. Damned if I can remember where that was…maybe someone can find it and post a link.

    Well anyway, according to this graph…the tempature reading shows that we are about as ‘cold’ as we have ever been for the last 600 million years. That on average would put the temperate zone around 38°C or so. This ofcourse laying in the other predictions, it makes most of the equator to be a not a desert but a vast dense heavy tropic zone reaching upto and including the various sub-tropic zones now.

    Temperate zones would go farther north and south and all the rest. Very interesting graph…it really shows a few things. CO2 was about normal…well even lower then the last caldera explosion at Yellowstone which covered North America in 6ft of Ash and caused a global tempature plunge of around 15-18°C. Oh yeah…it’s suppoed to be alot ‘hotter’ then what we’ve got now. The interesting thing was…I think we peaked out at the bottom around 1900 or so. So in truth…if the graph is right…it’s got no where to go but up…but it’s not humans doing it…it’s natural.

    Hmm…well some of you might skoff at the tempature drop after the caldera bit…how many remember the summer of no sun? That would have been in the 90’s just after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. I don’t know about the rest of the world…but here in Ontario…I don’t remember a weekend or week that went by where it was above 20C or we have more then a day of sunlight. All it did was rain…and rain…and it was cold. Ofcourse it could have been the culmination of two events…which makes it even more interesting doesn’t it?

    I just wish I could remember where I saw that graph…it was damn impressive.

  • fnyser

    It is clear that fossile fuel emmissions are causing sunspots. We must save the sun.

  • Dave

    Quick check on the logic here. Yes, the sun is responsible for heating the earth. Yes, changes in the sun’s output will effect us. Does this logically lead to the conclusion that human contributions to the atmosphere have nothing to do with the global temperature? It does not.

    As the main article states, the fuel in the car’s tank is the big factor, but at your tire’s air pressure does give you information on fuel consumption. The small part of the equation can make a big difference.

    The global temperature discussion should be just that, not the typical “global warming, implied conclusion,” kind of discussion that goes on in most places. If you want to take part in it, you should tidy up your reasoning, or you are just as irrational as those on the other side.

  • Oooh, I just love when our commenters are harsh with us..

    Dave, absolutely, thank you for being such a guardian of logical discourse. RDC is not even pretending that he understands the issue of warming, just pointing out how that particular article screams bullshit to him. He is not writing a paper about the causes of global warming, merely point out that those who do so, are not being very scientific indeed.

  • Poisonhead

    Mashiki

    Was it this (Link)? (Scroll down a little).

    Anyway, you’re right – we’re in an “ice box” (not that you’d know it listening to the enviro-loonies).

  • Dave

    Fair enough, he is simply pointing out the article looks like bullshit to him. I am just doing the same for his reasoning, from my point of view. I guess I had underestimated the warmth in which a dissenting view would be received here.

    In any case, if anyone is interested in a recent, rigorous rebuffing of the science of “global warming”, check out this link at the Fraser Institute.

    http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/shared/readmore.asp?sNav=nr&id=614

  • R C Dean

    Dave, I quite understand that atmospheric gases can affect surface temperature, just as tire pressure can affect mileage.

    I just find it fascinating that all the analysis these days of global temperatures brushes right past the major contributors (water vapor, solar output, particulates) which are for the most part out of human control, to obsess about a variable that is somewhat affected by human activity, even though no one has yet come up with a scientific model for this variable that stands up to the data. There is an inherent absurdity to the CO2 model that has not been displaced by evidence.

    Why this misplaced obsession with CO2? I postulate that it is because governments and their green allies fund research and control careers, and governments and their green allies want scientific cover for asserting control over world energy consumption.

    This has nothing to do with science and logic, and won’t until someone can explain away a mountain of data about historical temperature swings and long-term variability. It has everything to do with politics.

  • toolkien

    To counter Dave’s point one further, it is up to those who want to use the Force of the State to stop a person or association to act freely. It is up to them to Prove completely that CO2 is in fact the culprit to our supposed global warming woes. They are the ones who are trying to alter the landscape of freedom and liberty for some quasi-religious cause.

    And as for begging off that ‘we are not experts’, if the evidence is so monumental, clear scientific proof can easily be offered so that the ignorant masses can be shown the Truth. But in reality, the Proof is merely computer models created by the very agendized, grant hungry crew who proffer their creations as if it is scientific Fact. So behind the avalanche of news stories there are press release, and behind the press releases are published ‘studies’ (curiously hard to find, even on the internet), and behind the studies? Computer models. The Wizard of Oz is shown to be a mere mortal after all.

    It is nothing but self-serving conjecture at best. Public Policy needs to be based on demonstrable proof, not theories based more on superstition. There is much more of the evangelical than of scientific here. We are actively in a new Dark Age where science has been perverted by the same primordial drives of existential fears and ‘hell’ that kept the mass in bondage for centuries. Ultimately nothing really ever changes. True science was born in the Age of Reason, when men attempted to throw down the shackles of the bondage of superstition. But now, with the rise of Statism, with the increase of taxation, with the channeling of funding, through the State, to the modern ‘secular’ churches, we are squarely back where we started. The Age of Reason is nearly over. A new age of irrationalism has taken over. Global Warming is but one symptom of a larger disease.

    So that is the picture. That is what is being defended against. So is it possible Man is causing the lions share of the global warming? It’s possible. Just as it’s possible there is a God. But I need substantially more proof of either before I bow down to the priests. And thus far, when the priests of global warming have been pushed, and they’ve given all their ‘evidence’ to the State Bureaucrats, and the question is further pressed, they rely on “But what if we’re right?”. Superstition, meet the State. State, meet superstition. Individual, meet your shackles.

  • Djerzinsky

    What about the incidence of the not so famous “Milankovitch cycles”.

  • Foobarista

    My own problem with the article wasn’t so much that
    it discussed climate change or global warming, but
    that it was both awfully written and obviously
    inserted opinion in what should have been a
    straightforward report on what appears to be
    an important study on sunspots and historic climate
    change. It had a “your carma ran over my dogma”
    quality that I’ve seen often in articles reporting
    scientific results which seemingly contradict or go
    against conventional wisdom.

    –Foobarista

  • Harry

    Dave’s also missing, or ignoring, the need for credible evidence when making an argument: logic isn’t enough. A twenty year series isn’t remotely sufficient to draw conclusions about the anthropogenic contribution to global climate change. A hundred years are at best marginal. This issue has been pretty well chewed over in the relevant fields.

    The quality of the writing in the BBC article is abysmal, so it should be no surprise that the thinking is sloppy too. It really does appear (at first glance, anyway) that the writer is implying that greenhouse gas emissions are causing changes in sunspot activity.

    (Once again, the best explanation is probably that the scientist is angling for support by means of a throw-away appeal to the hot topic du jour. It’s typically done.)

  • Mashiki

    Poisonhead;

    Cheers mate, that one is close. But is missing the CO2 output and solar output. But does give a very nice idea of what’s going on.

    Thanks for posting it tho.

  • Jacob

    toolkien:
    Very well said !!

  • Dave

    Folks,

    Do have a look at what I have said and the website I have pointed you to. Global warming is over rated and the attempts to impose restrictions on our liberty are wrong, I agree with you. I am not trying to defend the BBC article, nor am I trying to drum up support for the greens. All I have said was that the post attacking the BBC article was not logically sound and if we are going to argue from the moral high ground, we better do it in a manner than can not be taken apart so easily.

    So, please put the knives back in the sheathes and be a bit more open to “fellow travelers” next time.

  • Dave

    R C Dean,

    Politics are the key, you are correct. I guess I just have a bit too much faith in logic and reason sometimes and forget that those are not the things that make the political world spin. Thanks for your level response to my admittedly sanctimonious post.

  • Is it MY fault that your planet orbits a BALL of BURNING GAS?

  • John Anderson

    Man is contributing to Gloal Warming. But as far as I have seen, in relatively minuscule proportion. Were the climate balanced on a knife blade and Man the only changing factor, I might be a bit more willing to listen to what certainly seems a political (and politically-funded) argument for something like Kyoto.

    But I am still waiting for our politicos and others to go after the automakers to get them to divulge their interplanetary-travel technology, and open their books on sales to other Solar System bodies. Yes, astronomers have noted that Mars is warming at what some called “an alarming rate” as are some of the moons of the gas giants.

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/mars_snow_011206-1.html

    http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-odyssey-03b.html

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/mars_ice-age_031208.html

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/earthshine_climate_040528.html

    http://www.envirotruth.org/news-cosmic.cfm

  • Foobarista

    Actually, Martian global warming is due to
    to the all-wheel-drive all-terrain vehicles that the US
    put on Mars…

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/mer/images.cfm

    http://mpfwww.jpl.nasa.gov/rover/sojourner.html

  • mambo

    Why is it that opinionated people seem to respond with us versus them. Seems so narrow from both the conservative and liberal sides. Fear of being wrong I suppose. I have liberal environmental beliefs and conservative business / religious beliefs. I believe that CO2 emmisisons are a big problem. I also have an post graduate education in exercise science and am trained the Oxygen / CO2 / Nitrogen effects on human and environmental physiology. I hope you eventually realize that strong beliefs based upon us versus them are always flawed. Emotional thinking distorts reality.