Monday, March 26, 2007

Global Warming Caused by Sun's Activity?

Here is a good article from another blog about the likely influence of the sun in producing global warming. Please remember that the Earth has gone through many, many episodes of cooling, (think of the formation of glaciers), followed of course by warming. Next, consider this has been going on for far, far longer than man has been around. These are obvious things all of us can easily observe. These simple and major aspects of reality are being ignored by the proponents of man-caused global warming. Why are they trying to fool us? What is their real agenda? I wonder, do you?

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The Missing GW Link: New images shock scientists with view of sun's magnetic field power
Image above: Dubbed the "Swan" this X-ray image shows massive energy releases from the sun's magnetic field, even while we are at the solar minimum in between sunspots cycles.
Last week, on the same day Al Gore was giving testimony to congress on made-made CO2 being the sole cause of Global Warming, NASA called a press conference in Washington DC to announce some spectacular new findings about the sun. Of course everybody in the press was so busy covering Gore's big day, there was hadly any mention of what NASA announced.
What they announced was that a new X-ray imaging satellite called HINODE, launched in September 2006, has seen the first images that explain one of the biggest mysteries of the sun: why the corona is hotter than the suns surface. Magnetic reconnection seems to be the key, and these images go a long ways towards proving the theory.
But even more importantly, scientists expected to see a very quiet sun with the new x-ray imager, since we are at solar minimum right now. NASA announced we'd reached solar min on March 6th. The fact that the HINODE scientists saw huge explosive energy bursts even while the surface of the sun is nearly devoid of sunspots tells them that the suns magnetic field is still tremendously active. The suns magnetic field has been getting more active for the past hundred years, coincidentally at the same time CO2 on earth has been increasing along with the global mean temperature.
But it seems that coincidence makes CO2 a Red Herring.
The linkage between changes in the suns magnetic field and earths climate has been well documented. Global temps closely track solar cycles as measured by sunspot intensity. Sunpots are proxy indicators of changes in the suns magnetic field. The Danish Meteorological Institute first reported the correlation in a study going back centuries. Historic data reveal that whenever the sun got more active, the earth heated up, and vice versa. The best correlation was the Maunder Minimum.
But until now, we could not see energy being transported away from the sun via its magentic field, which is why many in the environmental community doubt the role of the sun in climate change. We couldn't visualize the sun's magnetic output. This new tool is going to open a whole new era of understanding how the sun works, and more importantly how changes on the sun link to climate changes on earth.
Of course I'm sure Mr. Gore will find a way to explain this away, since we can't have any new science getting in the way of a "consensus" and a "debate thats over".
Inconveniently, NASA also announced last week a new study that shows a clear sun-earth linkage in records kept by Eqyptians of the Nile river, rainfall, and auroral activity which is a direct indicator of solar activity. It seems the sun-earth climate linkage has been around way before SUV's.
So what's easier to believe as the cause of climate change? That a trace gas called CO2 that has increased on earth from about 280 PPM to 380 PPM in the last 100 years is the cause, or that the giant nuclear fireball a thousand times bigger than earth a mere 8 light-minutes away has been getting more active during the same period is the reason?
Posted by Anthony Watts on March 25, 2007 08:49 PM


RobC said...

You're responding to an argument I've never heard before, that CO2 is the only thing that affects global temperature. The record is pretty clear on this: before 1850, when CO2 concentration was lower and essentially constant, the main factor that affected global temperature was solar activity. It fits all the data we have, and the NASA report is just another example.

The data also show that CO2 concentration is higher and is changing to the point that now it is a stronger influence than solar activity. In fact, solar activity peaked in 1980 and has dropped since 1990, but temperature has continued to rise. The only factor that can explain the temperature rise is CO2.

You can find the data that show this for yourself on the web. For your convenience, I've assembled the most reliable information I could find on a web page called Global Warming: A Guide for the Perplexed. Check it out.

Peter said...

Hello and thanks for responding. It seems to me that about 99@ of all the efforts to slow global warming involve the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Of course this assumes global warming is actually occurring, but that's another story.

Here is a quote from Wikipedia ( )about CO@ levels in the past. It is pretty clear that CO2 levels varied greatly in the past and they roughly correlate to the indeniable Ice Age Cycles. Don't forget that glaciers advanced and retreated (i.e. the Earth warmed and cooled) many times, long before man began burning lots of fossil fuels.

"Variation in the past:

CO2 concentrations over the last 400,000 years. The most direct method for measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations for periods before direct sampling is to measure bubbles of air (fluid or gas inclusions) trapped in the Antarctic or Greenland ice caps. The most widely accepted of such studies come from a variety of Antarctic cores and indicate that atmospheric CO2 levels were about 260–280µL/L immediately before industrial emissions began and did not vary much from this level during the preceding 10,000 years.

The longest ice core record comes from East Antarctica, where ice has been sampled to an age of 800,000 years before the present.[12] During this time, the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has varied between 180–210 µL/L during ice ages, increasing to 280–300 µL/L during warmer interglacials.[13] The data can be accessed here.

Some studies have disputed the claim of stable CO2 levels during the present interglacial (the last 10 kyr). Based on an analysis of fossil leaves, Wagner et al.[14] argued that CO2 levels during the period 7–10 kyr ago were significantly higher (~300 µL/L) and contained substantial variations that may be correlated to climate variations."

Peter said...

By the way, your web page on global warming is very well done.

RobC said...

Peter, thanks for your generous remark.

If I'm reading your response correctly, you are correcting me this way: when I said CO2 was lower and essentially constant, I should have specified that I was addressing only the previous few thousands of years.

That's a fair criticism. When I write I always think I'm clearer than I really am.

The point of the statement was to uncouple CO2 as a driving force on global temperature during the period before 1850. Absent some extraordinary event such as the massive burnoff of all vegetation, CO2 variations could only have happened in response to changes in temperature due to some other cause. I think I read a suggestion that dissolved ocean CO2 could have been rapidly discharged in large amounts; that could also be considered an extraordinary event.

Anyway, if I've understood your criticism correctly, thanks.

Peter said...

See my other post about CO2 here:

This is exactly the kind discussion that we need. It seems nobody can agree on the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere. There seem to be an infinite number of factors that COULD affect our climate. It seems the climate modelers just tweak their models until the outcome matches the data. My concern is that with so many uncertainties, how wise is it to sign treaties, pass laws, initiate new taxes, and mandate changes that will cost billions? I think we're being led on a wild goose chase.

Peter said...

Here are some statements about the importance of CO2 by Dr. Reid A. Bryson posted here Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Global Warming Nonsense Detector, by Dr. Reid A. Bryson. He is one of the foremost experts on climate change. Here is just some of what he says:

Some Common Fallacies
1. The atmospheric warming of the last century is unprecedented and unique. Wrong. There are literally thousands of papers in the scientific literature with data that shows that the climate has been changing one way or the other for at least a million years.

2. It is a fact that the warming of the past century was anthropogenic in origin, i.e. man-made and due to carbon dioxide emission. Wrong. That is a theory for which there is no credible proof. There are a number of causes of climatic change, and until all causes other than carbon dioxide increase are ruled out, we cannot attribute the change to carbon dioxide alone.

3. The most important gas with a "greenhouse" effect is carbon dioxide. Wrong. Water vapor is at least 100 times as effective as carbon dioxide, so small variations in water vapor are more important than large changes in carbon dioxide.

4. One cannot argue with the computer models that predict the effect of a doubling of carbon dioxide or other "greenhouse gasses". Wrong. To show this we must show that the computer models can at least duplicate the present-day climate. This they cannot do with what could be called accuracy by any stretch of the imagination. There are studies that show that the average error in modeling present precipitation is on the order of 100%, and the error in modeling present temperature is about the same size as the predicted change due to a doubling of carbon dioxide. For many areas the precipitation error is 300-400 percent.

5. I am arguing that the carbon dioxide measurements are poorly done. Wrong. The measurements are well done, but the interpretation of them is often less than acceptably scientific.

6. It is the consensus of scientists in general that carbon dioxide induced warming of the climate is a fact. Probably wrong. I know of no vote having been taken, and know that if such a vote were taken of those who are most vocal about the matter, it would include a significant fraction of people who do not know enough about climate to have a significant opinion. Taking a vote is a risky way to discover scientific truth.

RobC said...

Thanks for alerting me to Dr. Reid's remarks. Dr. Reid certainly is the person we need to listen to, given his long acquaintance with the subject and his highly respected contributions. It would be supremely gratifying to learn more about his views. I'd like to go over the six points here.

Let's start with the critical point, number 3. The estimable Dr. Reid says, "Water vapor is at least 100 times as effective as carbon dioxide, . . . " It would be enormously helpful to know how Dr. Reid came to believe this. Others (RealClimate for one) have tried to track down the source but it only seems to be something skeptics keep repeating to each other.

To get usable data, I've tried to find authoritative sources everyone could accept. So far, the best one is "Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget" by J. T. Kiehl and Kevin E. Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.

If you have a better source, please recommend it. If you won't accept this paper as a source, then we're at an impasse.

Proceeding, the paper's Table 3 shows that for clear skies, water vapor accounts for 60% of the greenhouse effect, and CO2 for 26%. For cloudy skies, the corresponding values are 59% and 28%. NASA says the total greenhouse effect is 33 deg C. That means CO2 accounts for 8.5 deg C out of the total. Since CO2 concentration has gone up 36% since <1800 AD, then this rise would explain just over 3 deg of rise, compared with 0.7 deg measured. I suppose the difference would be explained by time lag, the earth being somewhat heavy, although no doubt other factors (saturation in particular) also affect the result.

I don't presume to know more than Dr. Reid, but I'm unable to reconcile his statement with any of the data I've found.

Now, to the points in general:

1. I'm sure he's right that the history of change in Earth's climate is well-established.

2. It seems to me that the other possible causes of global warming have been ruled out. The chief alternative explanation is solar activity. But that peaked in 1980 and has dropped since 1990, while temperature has continued to rise. I wonder if he's ready to reconsider this point.

3. This was covered above.

4. No, I don't think computer models prove anything either, though they may be useful for other things.

5. I don't know which interpretations he thinks are less than acceptably scientific.

6. I think he's solidly right on this. Voting on scientific issues is silly.

On the subject of your March 21 blog, I don't have anything to offer, except the suggestion that research done 50 years ago probably has been improved upon.

RobC said...

My deepest apologies. I should have referred to Dr. Bryson, not Dr. Reid. No disrespect was intended.

Peter said...

If you don't believe that computer models "don't prove" anything, (presumably because they're based on so many assumptions), then the entire theory of man-caused global warming is worthless. End of controversy because everything about predicting climate change is based upon these computer models. I think that is Dr. Bryson's point also.

RobC said...

Okay, that's fair. I could agree that "everything about predicting climate change is based upon these computer models."

But the reality of CO2 causation of global warming is independent of predicting climate change. It depends only on looking at the records of temperature, CO2, and solar activity. In particular, the 20th century data show that solar activity peaked in 1980 but temperature continued to rise. CO2 is the only other plausible explanation that's been suggested. And the rise in CO2 explains all of the temperature rise.

This reality doesn't depend at all on any computer model.

Peter said...

So everyone agrees computer models cannot be relied upon to predict the future climate, good, that makes sense.

Just because there seems to be some correlation between CO2 levels and atmospheric temperature, does NOT mean human combustion of fossil fuels is to blame. Correlation does not equal cause. That is poor scientific logic.

Consider these comments from:
Paul Driessen on the wrongs of "social responsibility" [Iain Murray]

Paul Driessen, senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and Atlas Economic Research Foundation, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power, Black death (, and a featured expert in “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” sent me the following commentary on environmentalist crusades against DDT and fossil fuels, which he argues have harmed people and the planet:

"Proposals to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 80% over the next few decades would put US companies at a competitive disadvantage, cost millions of jobs, and add $2000-4000 to the average American family’s annual bill for electricity, gasoline, food and other basics, say government and other studies. Other developed countries would suffer similar fates.

Moreover, all this pain would bring no gain in the climate change arena. Ice core and temperature data covering thousands of years clearly show that planetary temperatures rise first and, 400 to 800 years later, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase. Temperatures fall and, centuries later, CO2 levels decline. Even Al Gore’s own temperature-and-CO2 graph demonstrates this.

Warm oceans release trapped CO2, while colder seas absorb the gas, in cycles controlled by changes in solar energy and cosmic ray output, shifts in the Earth’s orbit and other natural forces. (See “The Great Global Warming Swindle” at

Talk about an inconvenient truth!

It demolishes the central premise of climate alarmism – that CO2 is responsible for climate change. It makes it clear that the Kyoto Protocol and assorted legislative proposals are nothing more than hundred-billion-dollar-a-year symbolic gestures, whose primary effect would be to give bureaucrats and activists an ever greater “level of authority” over energy, economic and personal decisions."

RobC said...

Peter, I'm getting a lot out of this exchange. I hope I'm not trying your patience too much.

First, Mr. Driessen's discussion doesn't even address the idea that CO2 causes global warming. He mentions that in the past CO2 levels followed temperature changes. Certainly, that's what one would expect, since there weren't any major sources of artificial CO2 before 1800. He in no way contradicts the observation that CO2 emissions currently are running right at 1% of the total in the atmosphere per year, and about half of that is staying in the atmosphere. Nor does he challenge the inescapable fact of physics that greenhouse gases have a greenhouse effect, which is to warm the earth.

What he mainly argues is that the economic cost of dealing with it would be worse than the consequences of global warming. That is where I fundamentally disagree. While I think renewable energy and conservation ought to be employed wherever they are practical, we could solve the problem with just nuclear energy. Consider what nuclear gets us:

(1) An electricity source that doesn’t depend on wind or sunlight or the limited amount of energy storage available, and emits virtually no greenhouse gases. It could reduce CO2 emissions by 40%.

(2) An energy-efficient way to produce hydrogen, which could be used directly in automobiles and trucks or, more likely, could be added to biofuels to make their production higher by a factor of three. Presently, transportation accounts for about 33% of greenhouse gases; all of that could be eliminated through conservation, electrification, and alternate fuels.

(3) A huge reduction in air pollution, lowered trade deficits, and freedom from the demands of foreign kings.

My opinion is that the economic benefits will outweigh the cost. But if I'm wrong, it is at least a vast overstatement to suggest that there will be strongly adverse consequences to the economy. The simplest, least disruptive approach would be simply to ban outright the installation of fossil-fired power plants, either new or replacement capacity. Since nukes are already economically competitive, the cost of switching would be undetectable, but we'd gain all the economic and national-security benefits.

Peter said...

I agree completely about your thoughts on nuclear energy. The evidence supporting its use is great. It's a proven, safe technology. Consider all the reactors we have on submarines and aircraft carriers. Power plants have been safely operating for over 50 years.

The US is way behind in building new plants. We got scared because of 3-Mile Island and never recovered.

As a geologist I've studied these issues since I began. Remember, it's geologists who find the uranium to power the plants. And built bombs, but that's another story.

Yes, we must reduce our dependence on oil. And coal is just nasty, even with super-expensive pollution controls.

But please, spending billions to reduce CO2 emissions is not the answer to our problems.

RobC said...

Peter, maybe we can put this away. I've enjoyed the dialogue and have been glad to learn your viewpoints.

You're probably right about overspending on the solution. As Russell Long used to say, a billion here and a billion there---pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Best wishes,