Sunday, September 13, 2009

Time: the future. Place: Britain

A clear starry moonless sky looked down upon a frozen Britain . A deep depression had passed through and deposited unprecedented quantities of snow on town and country. Snow ploughs and gritting vehicles had cleared a way through on the major routes, but footpaths and side roads were still not negotiable. A stationary high had now settled across the country and in the windless air the temperature was plunging steadily, already below -10C. On the hills giant wind turbines stood motionless in the still air. They were giant impotent icons of a failed religion and stark monuments to onerous and now pointless taxation over many years. In the gloom they seemed to point accusing fingers up into the sky.

At the control centre of the national Power Grid there was a nervous quiet, punctuated by short bouts of hushed conversation. They knew the crisis would occur in an hour’s time, at about 7 am. They had already made the dreadful decision as to which towns would be made to experience suffering and death by being deprived of power. This was a different world from the last time there were serious power cuts in 1970. It was now totally dependent on computer and related technologies. Owing to decisions made (or, to be more accurate, not made) in the first years of the century, the nation was grossly underpowered for such a circumstance. The domestic demand was already high, as almost everyone had left the heating on over night.

Some people had managed to get through to places of work. Cleaners turned on the lights and the great machines of industry began to hum. The power consumption crept up towards the critical point.

As it happened, pure accident relieved the men of the Grid of the responsibility of decision. In a remote rural area a giant high voltage transformer had not received its scheduled maintenance, as an indirect effect of the pressure on energy prices. Although worldwide energy was cheap and plentiful, ever-increasing green taxes, coupled with political instability, had made it otherwise. In that transformer, now working at full load, partial electrical discharges were producing solid debris and potentially explosive gases from the increasingly contaminated insulation oil. Suddenly, a bridge of conducting particles formed and a spark occurred. Into the arc poured the power supply for a whole area. The explosion was spectacular, showering the surrounding area with molten metal and blazing oil.

The adjacent area, also working at full load, experienced a surge and the automatic circuit breakers dropped out. So the dominoes began to fall across the country. By chance, an astronaut in the Spacelab was looking at a Europe whose shape was beautifully picked out by the street lights, when a black stain appeared in the middle of Britain. It spread rapidly and the entire island seemed to disappear off the face of the earth.

The first to die were among the elderly and infirm. As temperatures plunged they did not know what to do and gradually sank into a hypothermal coma. Next were younger people with disabilities such as breathing difficulties. People with gas and oil central heating suddenly had the realisation forced on them that, without electricity, their control systems did not work. Virtually untouched were people in remote rural areas, who had wood and coal burning stoves and plentiful supplies in store. Many people turned on their gas ovens and rings to try to obtain some life-giving warmth, but in consequence of the demand the gas pressure went down steadily and the distributors began to cut off supplies.

Water froze in the pipes and most households were without drinking water or sewerage. The trappings of modern civilisation, which only hours before had been taken for granted, now seemed as illusory as a mirage in the desert.

Some brave souls went out to seek supplies from the shops, but the shops had not opened. Without electricity the tills did not work and even the few who had staff who could perform mental arithmetic could not maintain accounts and stock control. Looting spread, as normally law abiding people saw the lives of their families under threat. The men at the Grid desperately tried to restore power area by area, but the consequent instant increase in demand foiled their efforts.

In hospitals emergency power generators switched in to protect those in intensive care, but some failed due to poor maintenance and the patients died. Emergency services were hopelessly overloaded and telephone networks began to break down. As local doctors’ surgeries began to open they found that they could not access patient records, which were all on computer. Seasonal flu again became a fatal disease as patients in high fever could not be kept warm.

So death and disease marched across the land. The economy collapsed and anarchy reigned. And it was all due to a Government White Paper in 2003 entitled "Our energy future – creating a low carbon economy".


I think that the above piece of writing is quite brillant and completely persuasive. It is certainly factually well-founded and it makes me glad that I live in sub-tropical Queensland where the winters are bright and sunny and utterly benign. The post is the work of Prof. John Brignell, in England. I am now however going to embarrass Prof. Brignell enormously (embarrassment is the English national emotion) by mentioning that he is a man in his latter years and not in good health. And, needless to say, his health needs are not well met by Britain's "National Health Service". Without being asked, I have therefore sent Prof. Brignell quite a lot of money to ensure that he can get privately what the "National Health" will not provide. And he has told me that what I have sent made a big difference. I see it as a priority to keep him alive and knowing the charitable instincts of conservative Americans, I have some confidence that some readers of this will share my view. Click here to email him.


Global warming has stopped and cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth, on the contrary. This means that projections of future climate are unpredictable. Translation from the Danish of Prof. Henrik Svensmark below. Professor Svensmark is director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at DTU Space

The star that keeps us alive has, over the last few years, been almost free of sunspots, which are the usual signs of the Sun’s magnetic activity. Last week [4 September 2009] the scientific team behind the satellite SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) reported, “It is likely that the current year’s number of blank days will be the longest in about 100 years.” Everything indicates that the Sun is going into some kind of hibernation, and the obvious question is what significance that has for us on Earth.

If you ask the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which represents the current consensus on climate change, the answer is a reassuring “nothing”. But history and recent research suggest that is probably completely wrong. Why? Let’s take a closer look.

Solar activity has always varied. Around the year 1000, we had a period of very high solar activity, which coincided with the Medieval Warm Period. It was a time when frosts in May were almost unknown – a matter of great importance for a good harvest. Vikings settled in Greenland and explored the coast of North America. On the whole it was a good time. For example, China’s population doubled in this period.

But after about 1300 solar activity declined and the world began to get colder. It was the beginning of the episode we now call the Little Ice Age. In this cold time, all the Viking settlements in Greenland disappeared. Sweden surprised Denmark by marching across the ice, and in London the Thames froze repeatedly. But more serious were the long periods of crop failures, which resulted in poorly nourished populations, reduced in Europe by about 30 per cent because of disease and hunger.

"The March across the Belts was a campaign between January 30 and February 8, 1658 during the Northern Wars where Swedish king Karl X Gustav led the Swedish army from Jutland across the ice of the Little Belt and the Great Belt to reach Zealand (Danish: Sjælland). The risky but vastly successful crossing was a crushing blow to Denmark, and led to the Treaty of Roskilde later that year...." - Click for larger image.

It’s important to realise that the Little Ice Age was a global event. It ended in the late 19th Century and was followed by increasing solar activity. Over the past 50 years solar activity has been at its highest since the medieval warmth of 1000 years ago. But now it appears that the Sun has changed again, and is returning towards what solar scientists call a “grand minimum” such as we saw in the Little Ice Age.

The match between solar activity and climate through the ages is sometimes explained away as coincidence. Yet it turns out that, almost no matter when you look and not just in the last 1000 years, there is a link. Solar activity has repeatedly fluctuated between high and low during the past 10,000 years. In fact the Sun spent about 17 per cent of those 10,000 years in a sleeping mode, with a cooling Earth the result.

You may wonder why the international climate panel IPCC does not believe that the Sun’s changing activity affects the climate. The reason is that it considers only changes in solar radiation. That would be the simplest way for the Sun to change the climate – a bit like turning up and down the brightness of a light bulb.

Satellite measurements have shown that the variations of solar radiation are too small to explain climate change. But the panel has closed its eyes to another, much more powerful way for the Sun to affect Earth’s climate. In 1996 we discovered a surprising influence of the Sun – its impact on Earth’s cloud cover. High-energy accelerated particles coming from exploded stars, the cosmic rays, help to form clouds.

When the Sun is active, its magnetic field is better at shielding us against the cosmic rays coming from outer space, before they reach our planet. By regulating the Earth’s cloud cover, the Sun can turn the temperature up and down. High solar activity means fewer clouds and and a warmer world. Low solar activity and poorer shielding against cosmic rays result in increased cloud cover and hence a cooling. As the Sun’s magnetism doubled in strength during the 20th century, this natural mechanism may be responsible for a large part of global warming seen then.

That also explains why most climate scientists try to ignore this possibility. It does not favour their idea that the 20th century temperature rise was mainly due to human emissions of CO2. If the Sun provoked a significant part of warming in the 20th Century, then the contribution by CO2 must necessarily be smaller.

Ever since we put forward our theory in 1996, it has been subjected to very sharp criticism, which is normal in science. Originally it was said that a link between clouds and solar activity could not be correct, because no physical mechanism was known. But in 2006, after many years of work, we completed experiments at DTU Space that demonstrated the existence of a physical mechanism. The cosmic rays help to form aerosols, which are the seeds for cloud formation.

Then came the criticism that the mechanism we found in the laboratory could not work in the real atmosphere, and therefore had no practical significance. We have just rejected that criticism emphatically.

It turns out that the Sun itself performs what might be called natural experiments. Giant solar eruptions can cause the cosmic ray intensity on earth to dive suddenly over a few days. In the days following an eruption, cloud cover can fall by about 4 per cent. And the amount of liquid water in cloud droplets is reduced by almost 7 per cent. Here is a very large effect – indeed so great that in popular terms the Earth’s clouds originate in space.

So we have watched the Sun’s magnetic activity with increasing concern, since it began to wane in the mid-1990s.

That the Sun might now fall asleep in a deep minimum was suggested by solar scientists at a meeting in Kiruna in Sweden two years ago. So when Nigel Calder and I updated our book The Chilling Stars, we wrote a little provocatively that “we are advising our friends to enjoy global warming while it lasts.”

In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. Mojib Latif from the University of Kiel argued at the recent UN World Climate Conference in Geneva that the cooling may continue through the next 10 to 20 years. His explanation was a natural change in the North Atlantic circulation, not in solar activity. But no matter how you interpret them, natural variations in climate are making a comeback.

The outcome may be that the Sun itself will demonstrate its importance for climate and so challenge the theories of global warming. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable. A forecast saying it may be either warmer or colder for 50 years is not very useful, and science is not yet able to predict solar activity.

So in many ways we stand at a crossroads. The near future will be extremely interesting. I think it is important to accept that Nature pays no heed to what we humans think about it. Will the greenhouse theory survive a significant cooling of the Earth? Not in its current dominant form. Unfortunately, tomorrow’s climate challenges will be quite different from the greenhouse theory’s predictions. Perhaps it will become fashionable again to investigate the Sun’s impact on our climate.



This is an alternative theory to that mentioned by Svensmark above. The Svensmark theory is much more parsimonious (simpler), however so would normally be preferred. See also a comment by Prof. Singer. I put up an earlier commentary on the research on July 17 (Second post down)

For decades, the supporters of CO2 driven global warming have discounted changes in solar irradiance as far too small to cause significant climate change. Though the Sun's output varies by less than a tenth of a percent in magnitude during its 11-year sunspot cycle, that small variation produces changes in sea surface temperatures two or three times as large as it should. A new study in Science demonstrates how two previously known mechanisms acting together amplify the Sun's impact in an unsuspected way. Not surprisingly, the new discovery is getting a cool reception from the CO2 climate change clique.

Scientists have long suspected that changes in solar output may have triggered the Little Ice Age that gripped Europe several centuries ago, as well as droughts that brought down Chinese dynasties. Now, in a report in the August 28 issue of the journal Science entitled “Amplifying the Pacific Climate System Response to a Small 11-Year Solar Cycle Forcing,” Gerald A. Meehl et al. have demonstrated a possible mechanism that could explain how seemingly small changes in solar output can have a big impact on Earth's climate. The researchers claim that two different parts of the atmosphere act in concert to amplify the effects of even minuscule solar fluctuations.

Global sea surface temperature (SST) has been observed to vary by about 0.1°C over the course of the 11-year solar cycle. This should require a change in solar irradiance by more than 0.5 W m–2, but the globally averaged amplitude change from solar maximum to solar minimum is only about 0.2 W m–2. There has long been a question regarding how this small solar signal could be amplified to produce a measurable response. In fact, the lack of a plausible mechanism has been used to discount the Sun's effect on climate by those who support carbon dioxide as the primary driver of global warming. That line of argument may no longer be persuasive. As the report's authors state in the paper's abstract:

Two mechanisms, the top-down stratospheric response of ozone to fluctuations of shortwave solar forcing and the bottom-up coupled ocean-atmosphere surface response, are included in versions of three global climate models, with either mechanism acting alone or both acting together. We show that the two mechanisms act together to enhance the climatological off-equatorial tropical precipitation maxima in the Pacific, lower the eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures during peaks in the 11-year solar cycle, and reduce low-latitude clouds to amplify the solar forcing at the surface.

The two mechanisms mentioned have been modeled individually in the past, and neither alone proved sufficient. Prior to this new report both mechanisms had not been included in the same model. Some models operate from the top down, beginning with the small changes in the sun's ultraviolet radiation that occur during the solar cycle. The enhanced UV radiation, which promotes stratospheric ozone production and UV absorption, warm that layer of the atmosphere differently at different latitudes. The temperature gradients this creates provide a positive feedback amplifying the original solar forcing while affecting the climate in the lower atmosphere.

Other models work from the bottom up, using a mechanism that centers around the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Solar energy added during the peak of a solar cycle causes more water to evaporate from the ocean's surface. Through a long chain of changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation, this results in fewer clouds forming in the subtropics. Fewer clouds mean more solar energy reaches the ocean, resulting in a positive feedback loop that amplifies the Sun's climate impact.

The problem to date has been that neither mechanism had a large enough impact to account for observed temperature changes. Suspecting that the two might reinforce each other if modeled together, Meehl et al. decided to modify some existing climate models: “Here we use several related climate model versions wherein we can include both mechanisms separately (an atmospheric model with no stratospheric dynamics or chemistry coupled to ocean, land, and sea ice; an atmospheric model with stratospheric dynamics and ozone chemistry driven by specified SSTs and sea ice) and then combine them (the atmospheric model with stratospheric dynamics and ozone chemistry coupled to the ocean, land, and sea ice) to test if they can, indeed, amplify the climate system response to solar forcing to produce responses of the magnitude seen in the observations.”



Summary: The sun is in the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Some observers are starting to wonder, are sunspots disappearing? Sunspots can have profound effects on the Earth's climate as well as human and satellite missions in orbit.

The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Weeks and sometimes whole months go by without even a single tiny sunspot. The quiet has dragged out for more than two years, prompting some observers to wonder, are sunspots disappearing? "Personally, I'm betting that sunspots are coming back," says researcher Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona. But, he allows, "there is some evidence that they won't."

Penn's colleague Bill Livingston of the NSO has been measuring the magnetic fields of sunspots for the past 17 years, and he has found a remarkable trend. Sunspot magnetism is on the decline. "Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year," says Penn. "If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015."

This disappearing act is possible because sunspots are made of magnetism. The "firmament" of a sunspot is not matter but rather a strong magnetic field that appears dark because it blocks the upflow of heat from the sun's interior. If Earth lost its magnetic field, the solid planet would remain intact, but if a sunspot loses its magnetism, it ceases to exist. "According to our measurements, sunspots seem to form only if the magnetic field is stronger than about 1500 gauss," says Livingston. "If the current trend continues, we'll hit that threshold in the near future, and solar magnetic fields would become too weak to form sunspots."

"This work has caused a sensation in the field of solar physics," comments NASA sunspot expert David Hathaway, who is not directly involved in the research. "It's controversial stuff." The controversy is not about the data. "We know Livingston and Penn are excellent observers," says Hathaway. "The trend that they have discovered appears to be real." The part colleagues have trouble believing is the extrapolation. Hathaway notes that most of their data were taken after the maximum of Solar Cycle 23 (2000-2002) when sunspot activity naturally began to decline. "The drop in magnetic fields could be a normal aspect of the solar cycle and not a sign that sunspots are permanently vanishing."

Penn himself wonders about these points. "Our technique is relatively new and the data stretches back in time only 17 years. We could be observing a temporary downturn that will reverse itself."

The technique they're using was pioneered by Livingston at the McMath-Pierce solar telescope near Tucson. He looks at a spectral line emitted by iron atoms in the sun's atmosphere. Sunspot magnetic fields cause the line to split in two—an effect called "Zeeman splitting" after Dutch physicist Pieter Zeeman who discovered the phenomenon in the 19th century. The size of the split reveals the intensity of the magnetism.

Astronomers have been measuring sunspot magnetic fields in this general way for nearly a century, but Livingston added a twist. While most researchers measure the splitting of spectral lines in the visible part of the sun's spectrum, Livingston decided to try an infra-red spectral line. Infrared lines are much more sensitive to the Zeeman effect and provide more accurate answers. Also, he dedicated himself to measuring a large number of sunspots—more than 900 between 1998 and 2005 alone. The combination of accuracy and numbers revealed the downturn.

If sunspots do go away, it wouldn't be the first time. In the 17th century, the sun plunged into a 70-year period of spotlessness known as the Maunder Minimum that still baffles scientists. The sunspot drought began in 1645 and lasted until 1715; during that time, some of the best astronomers in history (e.g., Cassini) monitored the sun and failed to count more than a few dozen sunspots per year, compared to the usual thousands.

"Whether [the current downturn] is an omen of long-term sunspot decline, analogous to the Maunder Minimum, remains to be seen," Livingston and Penn caution in a recent issue of EOS. "Other indications of solar activity suggest that sunspots must return in earnest within the next year."

Whatever happens, notes Hathaway, "the sun is behaving in an interesting way and I believe we're about to learn something new."

Solar activity can have a profound effect on the Earth's climate and biosphere. For instance, some studies indicate that sunspot activity could be linked to weather patterns on Earth. Understanding the behavior of the sun can help scientists determine what effects the solar cycle will have on Earth in the years to come

SOURCE. See also here


What they always thought they knew was wrong. Pity about that "consensus"

UCLA atmospheric scientists have discovered a previously unknown basic mode of energy transfer from the solar wind to the Earth's magnetosphere. The research, federally funded by the National Science Foundation, could improve the safety and reliability of spacecraft that operate in the upper atmosphere.

"It's like something else is heating the atmosphere besides the sun. This discovery is like finding it got hotter when the sun went down," said Larry Lyons, UCLA professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and a co-author of the research, which is in press in two companion papers in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The sun, in addition to emitting radiation, emits a stream of ionized particles called the solar wind that affects the Earth and other planets in the solar system. The solar wind, which carries the particles from the sun's magnetic field, known as the interplanetary magnetic field, takes about three or four days to reach the Earth. When the charged electrical particles approach the Earth, they carve out a highly magnetized region — the magnetosphere — which surrounds and protects the Earth.

Charged particles carry currents, which cause significant modifications in the Earth's magnetosphere. This region is where communications spacecraft operate and where the energy releases in space known as substorms wreak havoc on satellites, power grids and communications systems.

The rate at which the solar wind transfers energy to the magnetosphere can vary widely, but what determines the rate of energy transfer is unclear. "We thought it was known, but we came up with a major surprise," said Lyons, who conducted the research with Heejeong Kim, an assistant researcher in the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and other colleagues.

"This is where everything gets started," Lyons said. "Any important variations in the magnetosphere occur because there is a transfer of energy from the solar wind to the particles in the magnetosphere. The first critical step is to understand how the energy gets transferred from the solar wind to the magnetosphere."

The interplanetary magnetic field fluctuates greatly in magnitude and direction. "We all have thought for our entire careers — I learned it as a graduate student — that this energy transfer rate is primarily controlled by the direction of the interplanetary magnetic field," Lyons said. "The closer to southward-pointing the magnetic field is, the stronger the energy transfer rate is, and the stronger the magnetic field is in that direction. If it is both southward and big, the energy transfer rate is even bigger."

However, Lyons, Kim and their colleagues analyzed radar data that measure the strength of the interaction by measuring flows in the ionosphere, the part of Earth's upper atmosphere ionized by solar radiation. The results surprised them. "Any space physicist, including me, would have said a year ago there could not be substorms when the interplanetary magnetic field was staying northward, but that's wrong," Lyons said. "Generally, it's correct, but when you have a fluctuating interplanetary magnetic field, you can have substorms going off once per hour.



This Capital Weather Gang blog entry is written with considerable trepidation given the politically-charged atmosphere surrounding human-induced global warming.

I am a meteorologist with a life-long weather fascination. As I'm sure you know, meteorology is an inexact science due to the large number of variables involved in predicting and understanding the weather. I frequently say that weather forecasting is a humbling endeavor, and I have learned to respect its challenges. From this perspective, you might be able to better understand why I wince when hearing pronouncements such as "the science is settled", "the debate is over", or even the "the temperature in the 2050s is projected to be..." I realize that forecasting climate and weather are different, but both involve a large number of moving parts.

There are numerous reasons why I question the consensus view on human-induced climate change covered extensively on this blog by Andrew Freedman. But for this entry, I scaled them down to ten:

(10) Hurricanes: One of the strongest value propositions presented for fighting global warming is to slow tropical cyclone intensity increases. Katrina was cited as a prime example. But the storm only made landfall as a category three (five being strongest) and affected a city built below sea level. Stronger storms have hit North America before, but the Katrina route and the weak levees made this situation much worse. I follow global hurricane activity closely and earlier this summer, we reached a record low. Florida State has a site that tracks global hurricane activity here. Since the 1990s, this activity has been decreasing, which goes against what we were told to expect on a warming planet.

(9) Ice Caps: In 2007, the Northern Hemisphere reached a record low in ice coverage and the Northwest Passage was opened. At that point, we were told melting was occurring faster than expected, and we needed to accelerate our efforts. What you were not told was that the data that triggered this record is only available back to the late 1970s. Prior to that, we did not have the satellite technology to measure areal ice extent. We know the Northwest Passage had been open before. In Antarctica, we had been told that a cooling of the continent was consistent with global climate models until a recent study announced the opposite was true. The lack of information and the inconsistencies do not offer confidence.

(8) El Niño: This feature in the Tropical Pacific Ocean occurs when water temperatures are abnormally warm. Some climate change researchers predicted that global warming would create more and stronger El Niño events like the powerhouse of 1997-98. Indeed in 2006, esteemed climate scientist James Hansen, predicted this. But we are now about to complete an entire decade without a strong El Niño event (three occurred in the 1980s-1990s). So the more recent 2007 IPCC report backtracked from Hansen's prediction, noting that there were too many uncertainties to understand how El Niño will behave with climate change. Recent research speaks to how important El Niño is to climate. In the past two decades, these warm El Niño and opposite cold La Niña events have accentuated the global temperature peaks and valleys highlighting the importance of natural variability and the limitations of the science.

(7) Climate Models: To be blunt, the computer models that policy-makers are using to make key decisions failed to collectively inform us of the flat global land-sea temperatures seen in the 2000s (see more on this in item 5 below). The UN IPCC did offer fair warning of model inadequacies in their 2007 assessment. They mentioned a number of challenges, which is wholly reasonable since countless factors contribute to our global climate system--many of them not fully understood. My belief is that they are over-estimating anthropogenic (human) forcing influences and under-estimating natural variability (like the current cold-phase Pacific Decadal Oscillation and solar cycles). The chaos theory describes why it is far more difficult to project the future than climate scientists may realize (I give them a break here since climate modeling is in its relative infancy). We poor hapless meteorologists learned the chaos theory lesson long ago.

(6) CO2 (Carbon Dioxide): The argument that the air we currently exhale is a bona fide pollutant due to potential impacts on climate change flummoxes me. CO2 is also plant food. Plants release oxygen for us, and we release CO2 for them. Over the summer, CO2 reached almost .04% of our total atmosphere as reported here. Because CO2 is but a sliver of our atmosphere, it is known as a "trace gas." We all agree that it is increasing, but is there a chance that our estimate of its influence on the Greenhouse Effect is overblown given its small atmospheric ratio?

(5) Global Temperatures: As a meteorologist, verification is very important for guiding my work and improving future forecasts. The verification for global warming is struggling. Three of four major datasets that track global estimates show 1998 as the warmest year on record with temperatures flat or falling since then. Even climate change researchers now admit that global temperature has been flat since that peak. As shown above, the CO2 chart continues upwards unabated. If the relationship is as solid as we are told, then why isn't global temperature responding? I'm told by climate change researchers that the current situation is within the bounds of model expectations. However, when I look at the IPCC 2007 AR4 WG1 report, I can see that without major warming in the next 1-2 years, we will fall outside those bounds. This is why I believe James Hansen is predicting a global temperature record in the next two years.

(4) Solar Issue: Look for this issue to get bigger. Our sun is currently becoming very quiet. Not only is the number of sunspots falling dramatically, but the intensity of the sunspots is weakening. The coincident timing of major solar minimums with cooler global temperatures (such as during the Little Ice Age) suggests that maybe the sun is underestimated as a component for influencing climate. The second half of the twentieth century (when we saw lots of warming) was during a major solar maximum period- which is now ending. Total solar irradiance has been steady or sinking similar to our global temperatures over much of this past decade. Indeed, recent research has suggested the solar factor is underestimated (here and here). Perhaps one day, we'll have a different version of James Carville's famous political quote...something like "It's the sun, stupid!"

(3) But what about...? Ultimately after I explain my viewpoint on climate change, I get this question: "But what about all this crazy weather we've been having lately?" As a student of meteorology, we learned about amazing weather events in the past that have not been rivaled in the present. Whether it was the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, the 1889 Johnstown Flood, or even the worst tornado outbreak in history (1974), we have and will continue to see crazy weather. Very few statistics are available that correctly show an increase in these "crazy" events.

(2) Silencing Dissent: I believe the climate is always changing. But what percentage of that change is human-induced? Like most, I believe that a more balanced energy supply benefits us politically due to the reduced reliance on foreign sources and benefits us locally due to improved air quality. But several times during debates individuals have told me I should not question the "settled science" due to the moral imperative of "saving the planet". As with a religious debate, I'm told that my disagreement means I do not "care enough" and even if correct, I should not question the science. This frightens me.

(1) Pullback: Does climate change hysteria represent another bubble waiting to burst? From the perspective of the alarmism and the saturation of the message, the answer could be yes. I believe that when our science or economic experts tend to be incorrect, it usually involves predictions that have underperformed expectations (Y2K, SARS, oil supply, etc). Can we think of any other expert-given, consensus-based, long-term predictions that have verified correctly? Not one comes to mind. I believe that predictions of human-caused climate change will continue to be overdone, and we'll discover that natural factors are equally and sometimes even more important.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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