Solar cooling

By Phil Plait | July 11, 2007 3:01 pm

I can’t seem to get my blogging mojo together today, and news is flooding in about all sorts of fun things. I’ll have something up tonight, but for now I can’t help but smirk about thinking what the global warming deniers will say about what Fraser said.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Politics, Science, Skepticism

Comments (34)

  1. Daffy

    They’ll either ignore it totally, or say it is a “controversial theory.” Like that evolution nonsense.

  2. captain swoop

    the usual u mean?

  3. Christian Burnham

    Of course the Sun is responsible for climate change.

    Without the Sun, we wouldn’t be here, and we wouldn’t have fossil fuels to put in our Hummers.

    The Sun’s got a lot to answer for.

  4. Everyone grab a few pieces of ice from your freezers and throw them as high as you can to help cool things down. If we all do it together we can make a difference.

  5. Will

    But seriously, did the BA just endorse a statement that climate change is due to human activity, by process of elimination?!

    “And so, by process of elimination, we can determine that the electron tastes like grape-ade.” -Farnsworth

  6. Christian Burnham


    Thanks for the tip! Of course, I always leave my freezer door open in an effort to combat global warming, but I hadn’t thought of throwing the ice upwards.

  7. It’s unbelievable that some people still don’t recognize my genius.

    Anyway…. I’m off to 7-11 for more ice. My freezer can’t keep up with my activism.

  8. NOYB

    So what?

    Globall warming is based on results from running flawed (clouds genesis is poorly modeled, carbon cycle even more poorly understood, buggy code, etc.) climate models (all of which are clones of each other). They are so certain what the temperature is going to be 50 years from now, but they can’t predict what it will be tomorrow.

    Two words: Junk Science.

  9. NOYB

    So what?

    Globall warming is based on results from running flawed (cloud genesis is poorly modeled, carbon cycle even more poorly understood, buggy code, biased data, etc.) climate models (all of which are clones of each other). They are so certain what the temperature is going to be 50 years from now, but they can’t predict what it will be tomorrow.

    Two words: Junk Science.

  10. Christian Burnham

    See CNN’s article today for some nice global warming denial:

    “Chatting with America’s gas price survey maven”

    “I think that there has been friendly as well as unfriendly brainwashing taking place. And when I say friendly and unfriendly, I’m talking about decades of extremist views that have now achieved mainstream acceptance. And the No. 1 item among those affecting current oil politics in Washington is the boogeyman, also known as global warming.”

  11. I definitely disagree with his last sentence. He implies that humans are the SOLE cause of Global Warming, and there’s just no evidence for that. We’re certainly having an effect, and we may even be responsible for MOST of the warming (although that itself is pretty shaky), but ALL of it?

    They’re still getting these climate models together. Every year they make new discoveries and find out that their previous conclusions were inaccurate or in error. It takes a few years for the climate models to catch up.

    My advice: decrease your carbon footprint as much as possible: get some solar panels, a car with a good mph, work from home if you can, etc. Also, lobby for more nuclear power and the elimination of oil subsidies. All of these things would be good ideas even if there were no global warming.

    But don’t fall for the gloom-and-doom alarmism. That’s mostly politically-motivated, and alarmism tends to make people act emotionally, not rationally. And I think we all agree that that’s bad.

  12. Nobody knows what is causing it. We do know it is happening. Some of us are very concerned about what it’s going to do to the planet.

    What harm is there in acting as if we are the sole cause of it? If it happens anyway then so be it but if we can slow or stop it, what specifically is the harm in doing so?


  13. schowster

    Where is he getting this data from? (I know who wrote the article, I want to know how data was collected…) Global warming has been hotly debated on and off for the last 20 years, so how can this author suddenly just come up with new “uncontestable” sun data that somehow everybody else skipped over? Measuring solar output is not a billion dollar project, why is his record any more valid than others?

    I’m not saying his argument is false, but I can’t bring myself to believe that this new sun data is so irrefutable. Pretty good timing if you ask me.

  14. Cameron

    Last I checked, we aren’t the sole cause. However, we are a major contributor. Yes, the climate does cycle. Yes, the climate is on a natural warming trend. No, it shouldn’t warm this quickly, and yes, your Excursion is causing it.

  15. “What harm is there in acting as if we are the sole cause of it? If it happens anyway then so be it but if we can slow or stop it, what specifically is the harm in doing so?


    Well, I guess it depends on what you suggest. No harm in my suggestions at all, but if someone were to say (totally made-up, by the way), “Ahh! We’re all gonna die! Turn off all the coal and oil plants! Force people to walk and ride bikes! We must save the planet!” then the result, if those bans are implemented, will be poverty, disease, starvation, and an undoing of the progress of mankind.

    Now, that’s an extreme (and quite a bit silly) scenario, but there are degrees in-between. Definitely do the things that are a good idea anyway, but as for everything else, be cognizant of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

  16. Daffy

    “…be cognizant of the Law of Unintended Consequences.”

    Oh the irony!

  17. Shane – as I understand it, we are producing more than 100% of global warming at the moment, because without us, the earth would be cooling very slightly as we head towards the next ice age (based, I believe, on analysis of Milankovitch cycles).

  18. bassmanpete

    Quite timely, The Great Global Warming Swindle is on the ABC here in Australia this evening. I imagine all the sceptics here will be switching from watching Reality TV to gain some ammunition to attack the rest of us with tomorrow :)

    No we’re not solely responsible, all those farting & belching cattle must have an effect too. Does anyone know if there really are more ruminants on the planet today than there were before Buffalo Bill nearly exterminated the Bison and others wreaked a lesser carnage in Africa?

  19. Quiet Desperation

    >>> be cognizant of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    I’m tellin’ ya, the GW hysteria is just going to build, and steps will be taken. Poorly planned and committee designed steps.

    Prediction: Complete, irreversible ice age by the year 2100. You heard it here first.

  20. DenverAstro

    I have a solution for GW. It is radical and extreme but I am absolutely sure it will be successful.

    Kill 2 out of every 3 humans on this planet. Population pressure has always been a major cause of strife and turmoil, now it seems to be destroying the very planet we depend on for life. Reduce the human population to one third its current level and then institute mandatory birth control to keep it that way. Boom, problem solved.

    (sarcasm mode off)

  21. Andy V

    I think the Nay-Sayers will try to dismiss this by pointing to a similarity which may or may not be true. They will state that, during the summer, the Earth continues to get warmer AFTER the solstice.
    Although the summer gets warmer for a month or two after the days start getting shorter, on the solar system scale, who’s to say the sun wouldn’t continue to warm the Earth for a decade or two after it starts to cool.

    {I don’t indorse this thinking, I can just see a nay-sayer saying this}


  22. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> Reduce the human population to one third its current
    >>> level and then institute mandatory birth control to keep it that way.

    I support this product and/or service.

  23. Thanny

    What exactly is so unreasonable about concluding that humans are responsible for all of the warming?

    It’s just a coincidence that things are warming up far beyond all previous cyclical peak temperatures, a few hundred years after the Industrial Revolution began launching millions upon millions of tons of a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere?

    That global warming is controversial and complicated is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.

  24. Let’s go back to the basis : is there a “global warming” ? Since 1998, summers have not been so hot, and it seems that temperatures, even averaged from flawed measures (see ) , are not at all going up, as the “global warming” alarmist theory has been suggesting.

    This resembles another fabricated mass media hysteria (see ).

  25. John Phillips

    schowster: Some of it is the very same data used in the program The Great Global Warming Scandal, just look at the list of references at the end of the paper. There is a link to the paper in Fraser’s article linked to in BA’s post and the reference list includes Svensmark’s paper on Cosmoclimatology, i.e the one responsible for the claim that CR was the cause of GW. However, with one very significant difference. Unlike the program, which, to put it generously, ignored the post 1980 solar data, probably because it would have discredited their premise about solar forcing, this paper used all of that data as well as other data sources.

  26. [killing people to stop global warming] (sarcasm mode off)

    You’re not so far off. See Negative Population Growth’s website . They say that they are against coercive means to control population but I suspect that there are many in the group who love China’s policy. Call it a hunch.

    Then there’s Professor Peter Singer, who openly expresses his views and claims that parents be allowed to “abort” their children up to the time they are one-year old (his original suggestion was 28 days). Singer also happens to a global warming activist. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

  27. mschoppe

    > Does anyone know if there really are more ruminants on the planet
    > today than there were before Buffalo Bill nearly exterminated the Bison
    > and others wreaked a lesser carnage in Africa?

    There was a letter to the editor in Scientific American (June 2007, don’t have a link to it) asking a similar question:

    “In ‘Methane, Plants and Climate Change,’ by Frank Keppler and Thomas Roeckmann, two graphs compare sources of methane in the atmosphere during preindustrial times with those of today. Ruminants are listed as a major source of current emissions but are not included in the preindustrial chard. Did as many as 70 million bison really produce that much less methane than today’s cattle?”

    “Keppler replies: Although wildlife certainly produced methane in preindustrial time, this output was just a minor fraction of the 233 million metric tons of yearly global methane emissions. According to estimates made by environmental scientist Susan Subak and her colleagues in a 1994 article for Chemosphere, the total production of methane by wild ruminants in that period was no more than 10 million metric tons a year – a figure that takes into account the North American bison population (which Subak estimates to have comprised 60 million animals) and the natural ruminants of Africa and other continents. An estimated 1.4 billion head of cattle populate the world today – far more ruminants than existed in preindustrial times. Furthermore, modern cattle are bred for productivity, which probably leads them to emit more methane than their wild relatives did. Estimates put their methane production at 115 million metric tons a year.”

  28. There are two quite sad aspects to all this BA’s activism on AGW, and both are about undermining skepticism.

    On the one side Phil is unwittingly providing ammunitions to any smart astrologist. On the other, the BA is not walking the walk, applying the ways of healthy skepticism to climatology as he so aptly does about astronomy.

    In fact, all it will take is some future result like the infamous “Mars Effect”, for people to state that astrology is right because “there is no known explanation to that result”.

    And what is the point of remarking silly scientific mistakes in movies, and proclaim oneself a “skeptic” if there is then not a word spoken about major flaws of contemporary AGW theory, such as the role of clouds and even the whereabout of aerosols?

    If the BA can ignore that for the higher goal of combating flawed young-earth creationism and big-oil-driven politicians, well, why couldn’t a movie director ignore the problems with sound in deep space for the higher goal of creating an enjoyable movie?

    Once the goals justify the means, everything becomes permissible

  29. SCR /StevoR

    From an old astronomy magazine :


    Sun’s Future Not-So Bright :
    October ,1995, Astronomy magazine

    [Summarised from there – ed]

    “A study by astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas suggested that our Sun may actually dim by the middle of next century [ie. about 2050 AD –ed] cooling the Earth by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. This is based on studying other stars esp. star-spot cycles with about 800 stars between 10 & 100 ly away surveyed and is supported by carbon 14 data gathered from 7,000 year old bristlecone pines. The study forecasts that our own Sun will decrease in brightness by about 0.4 % within the next 50 years. Baliuna’s remarked : “Combined with the star survey, this information [C-14 bristlecone pine data] suggest that the Sun’s magnetic activity dwindles roughly one century out of every three.”

    The article noted in passing the lower 2 degree F difference equals the temp. difference of the ‘Little Ice Age’ period from 1645-1715 CE.

    [end-summary –ed]


    Seems they were spot on.

    The implications of this appear mixed and rather intriguing raising a number of questions. Eg : “So if our Sun _ is_ cooling – is the greenhouse effect hiding this fact or is there a lag factor with our Sun recovering and thus creating a solar effect more than a human one?”

    Also worth noting is that the current (May 2007) issue of UK-based astronomy magazine, ‘Astronomy Now’ is focused on ‘Climate Change ‘ with an number of in-depth articles on what it means for the planet, human society and astronomy, compares the climatological evolutions of Mars-Earth & Venus and mentions both accepted greenhouse consensus and alternate causation theories notable cosmic rays and solar variation.

    Personally, from all I’ve read and heard I am certain the recent planetary trend is for rising temperatures with receding icecaps and sea level rise posing us real threats. Whether this is human-induced, natural or a mixture of both seems slightly less clear but I think it highly probable (95 %) that human activity and industrial pollution is NOT helping the situation and that taking action to reduce our emissions of CO2, methane and other greenhouse gases is something we are well-advised to do.

    So I have to stand with the majority –both scientific and public – who say the planet is warming and that human activity is almost certainly a major factor causing the temperature rise and consequent environmental and social problems.

    Tried topost this on the BAUT buit didn’t seem tobe working … ?

  30. Buzz Parsec

    Maurizio – Huh?

    There *is* a known explanation of global warming… People burning fossil fuels and releasing green house gases into the atmosphere. AGW deniers have proposed a number of alternative explanations of why the Earth is getting warmer. Amongst these are cosmic rays and the Sun getting warmer. These two hypotheses have been shown to not match the data. Leaving increased atmospheric CO2 as an explanation. This is not some non-scientific mumbo jumbo like ID or astrology. The CO2-based green house effect is based on the measurable physical properties of CO2. To deny this, either you have to deny that humans are burning fossil fuels, or somehow explain why either CO2 doesn’t accumulate in the atmosphere, or that something counteracts the greenhouse effect despite the increasing accumulation of CO2. If you succeed there, you still have to explain why the Earth *is* warming anyway. AGW-deniers are building a house of cards, and several more of the cards get yanked out of it every year.

  31. Dear Buzz Parsec

    “There *is* a known explanation of global warming”

    It’s the talk of absence of evidence as evidence of absence that I am referring to.

    The recent Lockwood study has been used to state that there is no significant solar contribution to the measured warning. “Another nail in the coffin” means “we have eliminated another possible explanation”. I.e., CO2 is the culprit because we don’t know other causes.

    But look at this instead. As commented by Nir Shaviv, the lack of correlation between solar activity and climate could be used to state that the Sun causes cooling (as the maximum temperature is reached in the afternoon, well after the mid-day peak in irradiation)


    One day historians will have a field day trying to explain why so many science people could not keep their sanity whenever somebody talked about “global warming”.

  32. Why are my comments marked as “spam”?

  33. May I respectfully point everybody out to this long, peer-reviewed paper that may open up to the possibility that the Sun is in charge of the Earth’s climate?

    R Mackey, “Rhodes Fairbridge and the idea that the solar system regulates the Earth’s climate”, Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 50, 2007, pp955-968

    Mackey’s forecast for upcoming cooling is quite short-term, so it won’t take decades to find out


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar