Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Feeling the Heat

I am compelled to fear that science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups rather than to make men happy. ~Bertrand Russell

It would appear that the "CO2 is all we have to worry about" global warming crowd is starting to feel the heat from other scientists who have their doubts. Remember, the issue is not whether we have global warming; that is pretty much a given. The real issue is what are we going to do about it. When last I wrote, I tried to make this point with some force, but my voice is tiny, while the voice of the scientific establishment, which seems to have invested a lot in the carbon dioxide theory, is very large.

No one, of course, is taking the time to poo-poo anything I'm writing, but they are attacking anything that goes against the emissions dogma. One of the latest is described in an article from the BBC, screamingly entitled, " 'No Sun Link' to climate change." Fundamentally, what goes on here is that the BBC had a science program that pushed the cosmic ray cloud theory and showed a decrease in cosmic ray activity followed an increase in the suns brightness over most of the last century. Apparently, the data in the TV show stopped around 1980. Ah-HA! scream some researchers. They stopped in 1980 because cosmic ray activity dropped after that, therefore the entire theory is junk, and let's get back to stopping CO2.

Well, not so fast, chuckles. Yes, beginning in about 1987, it does appear that solar activity is declining with an increase in cosmic rays. But, by 1997, the trend goes toward increased activity again. In fact, as one learns from the article the overall trend for the twentieth century is increasing solar brightness. The assumption that average temperatures will react instantly to such increases is absurd. Because the Earth has an immense heat sink covering 7/8 of its surface, overall planetary heating due to long term solar brightness increases is likely to be slow. But, once the heat is in the ocean, the temperatures are going to take time to decrease. And, in fact, one sees slight variations in the rate of temperature increase. So, it takes a while for warming to start; once it gets going, it takes it some time to slow and reverse.

Keep in mind that the folks who have been telling you about the dead certainty about emissions causing warming and other factors having nothing to do with it are the same people who told you about all those hurricanes we were supposed to have last year. These are the same people who haven't said much about how, over the long term, hurricane activity has had many more active periods. Excepting our crazy burst of a couple of years ago, we have been living in a comparatively quiet era for tropical storms.

The bottom line is that the Royal Society is playing games. The global warming crowd has talked about long-term cause and effect, yet they are willing to ignore 80 years of increasing solar brightness to focus on the last 20 years when it suits them. This report hardly can be consider to "settle the debate", as Dr. Mike Lockwood claims. In fact, the same Dr. Lockwood hits us with this gem: "Y
ou can't just ignore bits of data that you don't like."

The irony is that this is just what he is doing, just as he ignores the hurricane data, the global warmings of the past, the current warming of Mars and Neptune.

Meanwhile, in my earlier article, I made reference again to the fallacy of using food stocks for fuel. My profound concern is that giving oil companies control of corn or wheat or beets is a recipe for disaster, especially when we are looking at the grim possibility that climate change will reduce arable land. Well, we've been given a preview.

So durum wheat stocks are becoming tight; next it will be corn, then something else. And while we're starving, the CO2 crowd will be helping to kill us while driving their biofuel cars to their seminars.

At the beach in Nebraska.


clazy said...

Thanks. Nice argument. Do you have a link to a graph showing the resurgence in 1997?

The Gog said...

It's in the BBC "No Sun link" article. If you look at the cosmic ray graph (the upper one), cosmic ray activity starts to drop off at what looks to be about 1997, which indicates an increase in solar brightness.

You kind of have to read that graph backwards.

clazy said...

Hmm, it's not clear to me that the sun's output necessarily goes up when cosmic rays go down. But I only dip into this stuff from time to time. In any event, I'm not impressed by scientists who baldly state, "warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity" is a "fact". There's far too much assertion in this field.

The Gog said...

Actually, it's the other way around. Cosmic ray activity declines because the sun is more active. Increased brightness brings a stronger magnetic field effect, which deflects cosmic rays.

As I said in the article, the emissions crowd uses long term data when it supports them and short term data when the long term doesn't work so well. It's crummy science.

clazy said...

Thanks for the tip. You've inspired me to find out what cosmic rays are and lo, I see they don't even originate at the sun, except for the oxymoronic solar cosmic rays. Now I understand the direct relationship between the sun's brightness and cosmic rays, via the sun's magnetic field, which shields the earth.

Let me know if my ignorance is getting annoying, but I am now beginning to wonder why the discussion focuses on cloud formation at all, rather than the the sun's intensity. You seem to be alluding to the obviousness of this point when you laugh at the title of the BBC article.

This guy Lockwood doesn't think that cosmic rays even affect clouds enough to matter, one way or the other: "It might even have had a significant effect on pre-industrial climate; but you cannot apply it to what we're seeing now, because we're in a completely different ball game."

So why is he ignoring the elephant in the room? Or is he only concerned with cosmic rays? It's the IPCC guy, after all, who claims the paper shows that the last many decades warming "can't have been caused" by the sun. He's also an atmospheric scientist. Lockwood, on the other hand, is a physicist specializing in space science.

I would be very interested in knowing Lockwood's position on the larger issue of solar output and climate change. The BBC fashion the article to make it seem as if he's commented on that, but if you read it closely, you see that he hasn't. Isn't it slimey that the pull quote is from some guy who has nothing to do with the study, but who's opinion falls in line with the BBC's agenda.

clazy said...

Ah well, found the answer in the abstract to his paper: "Here we show that over the past 20 years, all the trends in the Sun
that could have had an influence on the Earth’s climate have been in the opposite
direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures."

So much for that conspiracy!

The whole paper's here, free pdf download:

I guess that might make some fun reading.

The Gog said...

As to cosmic rays and clouds, the issue is twofold. If the sun is brightening that's going to heat the planet. If, in addition, there are less clouds (if you buy the cosmic ray hypothesis), then the condition is just aggravated. If you accept just that the sun has been brightening for the last 100 years, that's pretty impressive evidence. If you also accept the cosmic ray theory, then you've got a double whammy to create global warming, without needing an iota of carbon dioxide.

The cosmic ray hypothesis is not a given, so Lockwood's criticism isn't all that outrageous. You can check out the article I wrote here.

I don't think the BBC has an agenda one way or the other. What they saw was a chance for a sensational headline, so they ran with it.

Just glancing at his article (good link, there), it still seems he wants it both ways. He's saying that the oceans (that heat sink I was talking about) will smooth out short term variations (decades)but not long cycles. Except that he doesn't seem to think that has anything to do with his temperature scale not dropping to match short term fluctuations in the solar cycle.

By the way, it certainly looks from his graphs as if the 100 year cycle goes nicely with a temperature increase, especially if you consider how the temperature changes would be damped by the ocean's effect.

But, hey, I'm just folks. He's the scientist fighting to keep his grant money.