After listening to yet another bunch of sanctimonious self-important pseudo-environmentalists in Washington State going on and on about global warming, the failure of the United States to sign on to Kyoto, and how they were going to do their part by greatly reducing Washington's carbon footprint, I felt the need to respond to their recitation of the religious dogma from the House of Gore.
Listening to the properly indoctrinated faithful spout the gospel of anthropogenic global warming, it became clear there was no room in their belief system for contrary views or theories. As more than one of them said, the debate is over, global warming is a fact, and it's all our fault.
If only it were so easy.
Time and time again I have pointed out to the anointed that much of the information they take on faith is based upon unproven theory and discredited studies, all the while ignoring that the computer climate models their high priests have used to 'prove' their beliefs have so far not matched what is actually happening. All the while skeptics have been pointing out factors the true believers have purposely ignored or tried to marginalize.
There's more evidence that recent trends in climate have been driven by solar activity, part of a regular cycle that's been going on for eons. While the cycles have been ongoing, they aren't always regular. There is the short term 11-year sunspot cycle, of which we're at the beginning of Cycle 24. That means that sunspot count on the Sun's surface is minimal, if not non-existent. It also means that the Sun's activity in general is at a minimum. Solar output is down, the Sun's magnetic field is calm, and cosmic radiation reaching the Earth is at its maximum. Because there is a lag between the Sun's activity and its effect on Earth's climate, changes in solar radiance aren't immediately reflected in the weather experienced. But what happens if the Sun enters a prolonged period of minimal sunspot activity? At least one scientist, Dr. Theodor Landscheidt of the Schroeter Institute in Germany is predicting that Cycle 24 will be a particularly weak one, implying global temps may start falling. More than one weak cycle in a row may well put us into yet another Little Ice Age, meaning that it isn't global warming we need to worry about, but global cooling.
Regardless of the predictions above, it is foolish to ignore the solar activity theories of global climate change, particularly in light of climate trends over the past 100 years. Should the global warming of the last few decades turn out to be heliogenic rather than anthropogenic, the billions or trillions of dollars the true believers want us to spend to combat global warming will have been wasted taking measures that will not reverse the trends one way or the other. Rather the money should be spent mitigating the effects of climate change, whether it gets warmer or cooler.
What proof can I offer that it isn't human activity alone driving the warmer temperatures we've seen since the 1970's? Only this: Temperatures on other planets in the solar system have been rising, too.
Somehow I doubt the true believers will be able to point the finger at human activity to explain that. However, I did once have to explain to one of the even less well informed true believers that humans weren't polluting the Martian atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which he claimed was causing the temperature rise, because the Martian atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide and had been since long before humans walked the earth.
Other scientists have been able to track climate changes with changes in the sunspot activity over a period of more than 3,000 years using carbon dating of sedimentary layers of soils and peat bogs for sunspot activity and historical records and paleoclimatology findings. (The post linked above only covers back a little over 1,000 years, but other articles linked to in that post go back even farther.)
In the past I've had commenters counter with the argument that the amount of change in solar radiation isn't enough to affect the climate as much as we've allegedly been seeing recently. But that argument misses one of the points about the side effects of decreased solar activity: more lower level cloud formation. More lower level clouds means more solar radiation reflected back into space. The more solar radiation reflected into space, the cooler the temperatures. When solar activity picks up there's less lower level cloud formation but more upper level clouds. These upper level clouds trap the infrared radiation, which in turns cause temperatures to go up. In each case the solar radiance hasn't changed much, but cloud formation has, which has either a subtractive or additive effect depending upon the types of clouds.
So would you consider the debate about anthropogenic global warming is over, or are there still too many unanswered questions?