Thursday, April 23, 2009

Maybe It's The Sun Part III

In Part I (March 2007) and Part II (Feb 2008), I discussed scientific evidence that the sun has something to do with the earth's temperature (imagine that) and the conclusions reached by some that this evidence actually points to a coming "cooling period." At the very least, I argued, these facts and the uncertainty surrounding the role of the sun vis-a-vis climate, should cause "skepticism as to the validity of their computer models which extrapolate their current understanding and attempt to predict the weather over the next 100 years." Here is a recent BBC article that provides yet more evidence related to the sun's current activity which shows that "there are no sunspots, very few solar flares - and our nearest star is the quietest it has been for a very long time" - a finding that is apparently "baffling astronomers".

The Sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle of activity. At its peak, it has a tumultuous boiling atmosphere that spits out flares and planet-sized chunks of super-hot gas. This is followed by a calmer period.

Last year, it was expected that it would have been hotting up after a quiet spell. But instead it hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity.

According to Prof Louise Hara of University College London, it is unclear why this is happening or when the Sun is likely to become more active again.
My past posts also discussed this phenomenon and the so called Maunder Minimum "an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century." The BBC article also references this theory:
"Others are suggesting we'll be going into another minimum period - this is a big scientific debate at the moment."

In the mid-17th Century, a quiet spell - known as the Maunder Minimum - lasted 70 years, and led to a "mini ice age".

This has resulted in some people suggesting that a similar cooling might offset the impact of climate change.

So do you think "a big scientific debate" surrounding data that is "baffling astronomers" and that in the past was associated with a "mini ice age" might give the climate scientists some pause before asserting unequivocally that a catastrophic warming is occurring?

According to Prof Mike Lockwood of Southampton University, this view is too simplistic. "I wish the Sun was coming to our aid but, unfortunately, the data shows that is not the case," he said.

"...If the Sun's dimming were to have a cooling effect, we'd have seen it by now."

What? I thought the cycle could last a hundred years. How do we know how much of an effect this could have?

Professor Lockwood believes that as well as the Sun's 11-year cycle, there is an underlying solar oscillation lasting hundreds of years.

He suggests that 1985 marked the "grand maximum" in this long-term cycle and the Maunder Minimum marked its low point.

"We are re-entering the middle ground after a period which has seen the Sun in its top 10% of activity," said Professor Lockwood.

"We would expect it to be more than 100 years before we get down to the levels of the Maunder Minimum."

He added that the current slight dimming of the Sun was not going to reverse the rise in global temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

"What we are seeing is consistent with a global temperature rise, not that the Sun is coming to our aid."

How can he state this with certainty? He just said that over the next one hundred years the sun could continue cooling until it reaches the Maunder Minimum. Isn't that the same time over which we are supposed to roast to death? Why is he alleging that these facts are "consistent with global temperature rise"? Don't expect such questions to be asked by the modern day Council of Nicaea (the IPCC). The article reiterates the Council's orthodox decree:

...the IPCC projects that the world will continue to warm, with temperatures expected to rise between 1.8C and 4C by the end of the century.

So despite iron clad assurances that these observations should not change orthodoxy, the article fittingly ends with scientists giddy over a "unique opportunity":

No-one knows how the centuries-long waxing and waning of the Sun works. However, astronomers now have space telescopes studying the Sun in detail.

According to Prof Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire, this current quiet period gives astronomers a unique opportunity.

"This is very exciting because as astronomers we've never seen anything like this before in our lifetimes," he said.

"We have spacecraft up there to study the Sun in phenomenal detail. With these telescopes we can study this minimum of activity in a way that we could not have done so in the past."

Well, I guess it is "very exciting" that "we have spacecraft up there" to study that enormous ball of gas in the sky since "no one knows" how the "waxing and waning of the sun works". Given that the scientists are baffled and have never seen anything like this before in their lifetime, can we shut the computer model down for a bit and ,uh, check out this whole "sun" thing before we destroy the economy in order to save ourselves?

Additonally, let me submit that although these scientists are baffled, I am 100% certain that the most dangerous scientific phenomenon facing man today is the computer model which codifies and extrapolates massive philosophical errors, viz., an invalid process of induction on the part of these climate scientists and the anti-human ideology of environmentalism.


Anonymous said...

Robert Felix has been a proponent of an upcoming mini-Ice Age. His book is "Not By Fire, But By Ice". Talks a lot about solar cycles maximums/minimums.

Beth said...

If you haven't read the following books, you may find them very interesting.
Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years by Fred Singer and Dennis Avery. This book reviews several different cycles of the earth which are potentially quite relevant to climate, but which are poorly understood. There is a 100,000 year cycle to the change in shape of the earth's elliptical orbit around the sun, a 41,000 year cycle to the degree of the earth's axial tilt, the 23,000 cycle of the earth's precession--as well as the 1500 year solar cycle that the book is centered on. All this is in addition to the 11 year cycle of sun spots which you discuss.

Another informative analysis can be found in Taken By Storm by Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick. A few of the key points which they examine in detail are 1) there is no underlying theory of climate to explain underlying natural variation 2)such a theory is a prerequisite to forming and evaluating climate models 3)the severe limitations (if not disqualification) of the GCM computer models because of their inability to include sub-grid phenomenon in their data base and calculations.

The existing scientific evidence which brings into question global warming alarmism is extensive. The failure of the general public's exposure to this information is tragic.

Doug Reich said...

Thanks for the rec's. Has anyone read "Green Hell" by Steve Milloy? I bought it and started but haven't finished - seems very good. He has a website at with a lot of material.

Beth said...

I have not read that book of Milloy's but have Junk Science Judo. Also I heard him speak at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in NY and he presents cogent arguments based on a reasonable idea of what science consists of.

Roy Spencer, a climatologist doing rigorous atmospheric research, has written a book for laymen; Climate Confusion. It's strengths are his ability to explain climate science clearly and he also has a fair grasp of the economic and political ramifications of the global warming alarmism. His weakness is his religious beliefs which leads him to promote a skewed view of truth and certainty, and the relationship between facts and faith. It's a shame, because the rest of the book is excellent.

I have also read Henrik Svensmark book The Chilling Stars: a New theory of Climate Change which explains his theory of a potential connection between solar flares, cosmic rays and cloud formation. Another good read for anyone interested in understanding the the science, but unable to invest the time to work through the actual research papers.

Doug Reich said...


I saw a youtube video (wsj) today where a professor challenged Gore to a debate and Gore dismissed him - I think it may have been Svensmark

Beth said...

Sorry if all of this is more info than you are interested in, but up until about a year and a half ago when I switched to studying economics, I had spent a fair amount of time intensively reading up on the climate change issue. A book which combines economics and climate change science (which I did not mention before because the bound monograph is a bit pricey) I have just now found on line: Climate Alarmism Reconsidered by Robert Bradley Jr. published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. You can check it out here:

Doug Reich said...


Please give us as much as possible and I very much appreciate it.

You obviously are much more well read than I on this topic and it's great to be pointed in the right direction.

If you had one source or website on this topic that you can give to us (we who will not spend as much time as you but who want to be somewhat informed) what would it be? I saw and that seems like a good start but let us know if there somewhere to keep up.

Beth said...

That depends on how much you want the science and how much you want the econ-politics aspect. I didn't follow the JunkScience site but did occasionally catch a post or two.
There is a climatesceptics yahoo group I followed for a while, which addresses the science and the politics. Steve McIntyre's is also worthwhile. To obtain the perspectives of scientists who are concerned about anthropogenic global warming, I also read the Real Climate blog. Although I disagreed with many of their conclusions, it is a great site for understanding the scientific issues more fully. They raise important questions which must be addressed in order to understand how climate works.

Roy Spencer's site is pretty good. If you want to tackle original research, periodically check the home pages for John Cristy, Ross McKitrick, and Richard Lindzen. At the bottom of Lindzen's page, he has a special category "other publications" which includes his testimonies to congress, op-ed pieces and the like. There hasn't been an article of his that I've read and didn't like.

I receive the weekly report "Cooler Heads Digest" which is put out by a coalition of libertarian/free market non-profit orgs. It's probably worth taking a look at. They provide a round up of the week's issues and articles---but the articles themselves vary greatly in their quality.

If I was going to follow just one site it would probably be Spencer's because he has more frequent updates than the other scientists, and it is aimed at a less technical audience. But, as I said, I never really spent that much time checking into JunkScience so that may be more what you are looking for.

Doug Reich said...

Thanks Beth! Awesome stuff - will check it out.

Cripp said...

Seems like we're having a conference on the sun's influence on the climate here in Stockholm. Henrik Svensmark that was mentioned in a posting or two will be there. It seems open enough for CO2 doubts. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend..

Beth said...

Just found a great op-ed piece in the Washington Post on the effects of politics on science, esp. global warming.

Beth said...

Oops. That's the Washington Times (not the Post)