The Sun has entered a period of relative quiet over the past year or so. A lack of sunspots is key to good cell phone service and satellite TV, but it can also affect the climate. Sunspot minimums, like the Maunder and Dalton, have been synonymous with global cooling and subsequent ice ages.
This is bad news for scientists invested in CO2 -- and especially man's contributions of that gas -- as the primary driver of Earth's climate. An article on National Geographic's Web site (via WattsUpWithThat) demonstrates just how far scientists will go to hold on to the anthropogenic global warming theory.
But researchers are on guard against their concerns about a new cold snap being misinterpreted.
"[Global warming] skeptics tend to leap forward," said Mike Lockwood, a solar terrestrial physicist at the University of Southampton in the U.K. (Get the facts about global warming.)
He and other researchers are therefore engaged in what they call "preemptive denial" of a solar minimum leading to global cooling.
Even if the current solar lull is the beginning of a prolonged quiet, the scientists say, the star's effects on climate will pale in contrast with the influence of human-made greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).
"I think you have to bear in mind that the CO2 is a good 50 to 60 percent higher than normal, whereas the decline in solar output is a few hundredths of one percent down," Lockwood said. "I think that helps keep it in perspective."
These few paragraphs hold all sorts of hilarious goodies.
First, "preemptive denial?" As a scientist he's not interested in waiting to see what happens and how this will affect his thesis. No, he's going to "preemptively deny" the idea that the sun might have something to do with Earth's climate.
The bigger kicker is his claim that a 50-60 percent rise in CO2 must be more substantive than a few hundreths of a percent of solar input.
Think about this as a comparison. Would you rather have Curtain No. 1: 60 percent of my wealth earned in 15 years as a journalist? Or, Curtain No. 2: .03 percent of Bill Gates' wealth?
Let's make this comparison a little less ridiculous. What if the sun's output was reduced by 10 percent to the 60 percent increase in atmospheric CO2? Should you still be worried about CO2 levels?
CO2 is only a big deal because humans burn things that produce CO2, not because it's damaging to the environment or causes runaway global warming.
On a related note: