Global warming alarmism is not science. It is a toxic combination of pseudo-religion and totalitarian politics. To the extent that there is any debate over climate science–the alarmists run from debate like vampires fleeing garlic–the “skeptics” always win. If you want to follow climate science controversies in a rigorous but accessible fashion, check out the Science and Environmental Policy Project’s web site. Among other things, it features a weekly update on matters relating to the global warming debate.
This week’s SEPP newsletter includes an excellent piece by Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, a former United States Senator from New Mexico as well as a geologist and former Apollo astronaut who currently is an aerospace consultant. Dr. Schmitt reviews some of the basic evidence that the alarmists try to wish away. You really should read it all; here are some excerpts:
Policy makers at the head of government in the United States and elsewhere apparently want to believe, and to have others believe, that human use of fossil fuels accelerates global warming. They pursue this quest in order to impose ever greater and clearly unconstitutional control on the economy and personal liberty in the name of a hypothetically omnipotent government. There exists no true concern by the President or Congressional Leadership about the true effects of climate change – only a poorly concealed, ideologically driven attempt to use conjured up threats of catastrophic consequences as a lever to gain authoritarian control of society.
There has been an absolute natural increase in global surface temperature of half a degree Centigrade per 100 years (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last three and a half centuries. Observational climate data and objective interpretations of those data strongly indicate that nature, not human activity, exerts the primary influence on this current long term warming and on all global climate variations. Human influence through use of fossil fuels has been and remains minor if even detectable. Claims to the contrary only find support in highly questionable climate models that fail repeatedly against the reality of nature. What, then, stimulates historically and geologically observed, sometimes slow and sometimes radical, changes in climate?
The primary alternative hypothesis to human-caused global warming is natural climate change driven by the Sun. … As many scientists have documented, the position and orientation of the Earth in its orbit around the sun, and the Sun’s variable influence and activity, determine weather and climate. Seasons vary because of changing solar energy input in annual response to the varying orientation of Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres. … Further, variations in solar radiation received by the Earth correlate with short-term variations in Earth’s weather, based on the slow movement of loops called “Rossby waves” in atmospheric jet streams.
Observations by astronomers over the centuries, as well as studies of tree rings, stalagmite layers, and other pre-historic and geological records, have defined an 11-year sunspot cycle superimposed on a number of longer climate cycles. Much modern research documents that the sunspot cycle also correlates with variations in stratospheric winds and ozone production, cosmic ray flux, ionosphere-troposphere interactions, and the global electrical circuit that exists between the ionosphere and the Earth’s surface.
Correlations of records of seasonal changes, solar activity cycles, and local and regional rainfall oscillations all confirm that in some way radiation emanating from the Sun drives changes in weather and climate. Solar interplanetary magnetic fields, whose polarity varies every 22 years or twice the sunspot cycle, may play an additional role as their strength varies directly with increases and decreases in numbers of sunspots. …
More broadly, geological and planetological observations show that major perturbations in climate relate to the position and orientation of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun. For example, as Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovic pointed out in 1941, as have many others since, initiation of the major ice ages on Earth correlate with a 23,000-year precession cycle, a 41,000-year obliquity cycle, and a 100,000-year eccentricity cycle in the position of the Earth relative to the Sun. …
Climate cycles related to internal solar activity are superposed on long-term orbital cycles. For example, the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300) and the Little Ice Age (1400-1900) correlate, respectively, with very active and very passive periods of recorded sunspot activity. As a fairly recent example of solar influence on climate, the Little Ice Age occurred during a 500-year long sequence of three deep reductions in sunspot frequency. The coldest temperatures came during the last of these minima, a 70- year period of exceptionally few sunspots (the Maunder Minimum). The Medieval Warm Period, (when the Vikings colonized Greenland, glaciers retreated, and farmers could at least survive) also correlates to repeated multi-century long, high sunspot frequency.
Since the end of the early 1900s, peak values in sunspot activity rose steadily until 1960, leveling off at higher than normal values until apparently starting to fall about 2000.
The 11-year sunspot cycle repetitions are superimposed on a number of long-term cycles of past highs and lows in solar activity. For example, the Gleissberg cycle has imprecisely defined periods of 90 ± 30 years in length. More energetic sunspot activity in the Gleissberg cycle may correlate with temporary decades of warming, such as in the 1930s and 1990s with the reverse being true in the 1810s and 1910s. Analyses of tree rings, lake levels, cave deposits, tree ring variations in cosmic ray-produced isotopes (14C and 10Be), and oxygen isotope ratios record what appear to be other long period solar cycles, specifically, 2400, 1500 years, 200, as well as the Gleissberg cycle.
Many advocates of human-caused global warming agree that solar cycles show correlations with regional climate variations; but, absent a proven amplification mechanism to enhance small solar energy (irradiance) variations, they reject nature in favor of fossil fuel burning.
It is worth noting that the alarmists are inconsistent, in that their own theory, that carbon dioxide is a sort of thermostat that controls Earth’s temperature, is plausible only if all objective effects of CO2 in the atmosphere are multiplied by “positive feedbacks” of various kinds. The difference is that empirically, Earth’s temperatures correlate closely with solar activity, while they correlate hardly at all with the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, which has varied widely over geologic history.
Specifically with respect to the last 120 years, the correlation of measured solar energy input variations with global surface temperature and sea surface temperature is very strong. The statistical correlation of solar irradiance with air temperature has been about 79%. In contrast, during the last 50 years, the correlation of measured carbon dioxide increases with global surface temperature has been only about 22%. This directly contradicts the assumption that carbon dioxide has had a large influence on climate in the last 50 years. …
Additional support that an amplification mechanism exists comes from recent observational data on variations in stratospheric water vapor concentrations over three decades. These data suggest that decreases in water vapor have contributed to amplified sea surface cooling since 2000 while increases between 1980 and 2000 accented surface warming. This relationship may correspond with stratospheric cooling and lower water retention due to lower than average solar energy input since 2000.
Climate change driven by the Sun constitutes a strongly competitive, purely scientific hypothesis to the climate modeling-political hypothesis of human-caused global warming advocated by climate modelers and their acolytes in the science, media, and political establishments. … The current decade or longer period of cold winters in the northern United States and Europe coincide with a relatively prolonged reduction in sunspot activity below even the norm for a minimum in the 11-year cycle.
Actual observations show that climate varies in response to natural forces and that human burning of fossil fuels has had negligible effect over the last 100 years.
Dr. Schmitt’s article is copiously footnoted, as you will see if you follow the link.