Global Warming Deniers Favorite "Sunspot" Theory Refuted... Again

Fri, 2008-04-04 08:43Page van der Linden
Page van der Linden's picture

Global Warming Deniers Favorite "Sunspot" Theory Refuted... Again

If one were to reach into the grab bag of global warming skeptics' favorite theories, one might pull out any number of speculation-laden papers and editorials regarding the supposed effect of solar activity on the Earth's climate.

For example, here's an excerpt from an October 2007 presentation given by a member of the Exxon-funded Heartland Institute:

How long will the global warming alarmists be able to sustain the public hysteria without strongly rising temperatures? This will be a key factor in the short-term future of climate warming legislation.

Henrik Svensmark of the Danish Space Research Institute says cosmic rays are the link between the sun’s variability and Earth’s temperatures. More or fewer cosmic rays, depending on the strength of the “solar wind,” seed more or fewer of the low, wet clouds that cool the Earth. Further experiments to document this impact are planned in Europe.

The research to which the presentation refers is described in this paper by Svensmark, which, oddly, does not mention climate change, although the (non-peer-reviewed) press release for his research does:

The experimental results lend strong empirical support to the theory proposed a decade ago by Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen that cosmic rays influence Earth’s climate through their effect on cloud formation.

'Many climate scientists have considered the linkages from cosmic rays to clouds to climate as unproven,’ comments Eigil Friis-Christensen, who is now Director of the Danish National Space Center. ‘Some said there was no conceivable way in which cosmic rays could influence cloud cover. The [current research] now shows how they do so, and should help to put the cosmic-ray connection firmly onto the agenda of international climate research.


(Click here for the Real Climate discussion of Svensmark's et al.'s claims.)

Unfortunately for the “sunspots and cosmic rays, not humans, cause global warming” crowd, British scientists have just blown their claims out of the water. The BBC News website has the story:

Scientists have produced further compelling evidence showing that modern-day climate change is not caused by changes in the Sun's activity.

The research contradicts a favored theory of climate “sceptics”, that changes in cosmic rays coming to Earth determine cloudiness and temperature.

The idea is that variations in solar activity affect cosmic ray intensity.

But Lancaster University scientists found there has been no significant link between them in the last 20 years.

Presenting their findings in the Institute of Physics journal, Environmental Research Letters, the UK team explain that they used three different ways to search for a correlation, and found virtually none.

The article points out the obvious:

This is the latest piece of evidence which at the very least puts the cosmic ray theory, developed by Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark at the Danish National Space Center (DNSC), under very heavy pressure. Dr Svensmark's idea formed a centrepiece of the controversial documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle.

The Great Global Warming Swindle was essentially a global warming skeptic-laden response to Al Gore's fact-based documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. It came out in May 2007. Its focus on Svensmark's theory is perplexing, given that three years earlier, scientists reported:

A new scientific study concludes that changes in the Sun's output cannot be causing modern-day climate change.

It shows that for the last 20 years, the Sun's output has declined, yet temperatures on Earth have risen.

It also shows that modern temperatures are not determined by the Sun's effect on cosmic rays, as has been claimed.

Writing in the Royal Society's journal Proceedings A, the researchers say cosmic rays may have affected climate in the past, but not the present.

'This should settle the debate,' said Mike Lockwood, from the UK's Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory, who carried out the new analysis together with Claus Froehlich from the World Radiation Center in Switzerland.

In other words, there is repeated evidence from multiple researchers that global warming is caused by human activity. Not by sunspots.

Not by cosmic rays.

What will it take to convince the skeptics?

Previous Comments

While Svensmark’s hypothesis that solar moderated cosmic rays have an influence on cloud generation is actually quite fascinating, regardless of whether it is ultimately proven true or not, the claim of the denial industry that his hypothesis proves that human activity, specifically increasing atmospheric CO2 through the burning of fossil fuels, does not lead to warming will still be a fallacy.

Greenhouse gas induced warming and cloud-related changes in albedo are completely independent phenomena. If it should be shown that cosmic ray-generated clouds induce some degree of net cooling or warming, increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 will still induce some degree of warming, and it will be the stronger forcing that will dominate. What the Sloan & Wolfendale paper suggests is that the cosmic ray-induced cloud forcing is minimal in comparison to greenhouse gas forcing, and that the latter dominates the former by far.

What’s the exact citation for Sloan and Wolfendale’s paper?

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

Frank, here is the link to the actual paper:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/6augt5

Ian Forrester

Thanks!

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

Svensmark et al.’s stuff was already bad enough, but the folks behind “The Great Global Warming Swindle” just had to go further and quote their work wrongly:

http://folk.uio.no/nathan/web/statement.html

“We have concerns regarding the use of a graph featured in the documentary [TGGWS] titled `Temp & Solar Activity 400 Years’. Firstly, we have reason to believe that parts of the graph were made up of fabricated data that were presented as genuine. The inclusion of the artificial data is both misleading and pointless.”

Maybe in the denialist universe, two stupid errors will cancel each other out and produce a cloud of pink fluff. (Research is underway to find out what happens when you have three stupid errors occurring in a row.)

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

“In other words, there is repeated evidence…”

Logical fallacy. Even if you disprove Theory B, Theory A remains unproven. You have to prove Theory A on its own merits.

Bullcrap. We’re not talking about 100%-certain proofs here. If the sunspot theory’s falsified, then this finding does lead to an increase in the posterior possibility (given our state of knowledge) that the CO2 hypothesis is true.

But denialists always advocate Doing Nothing until everything is 110% certain. I say, screw them.

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

Al Gore’s movie An Inconvienient “Truth” is FACT BASED?
What a complete crock.
Tell that to the British courts that ruled it can not be shown in schools without the disclaimers itemizing all the Lies, mistakes and exagerations.

LOL

“itemizing all the Lies, mistakes and exagerations.”

How many? Maybe 19,000?

Tell us.

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

To use your suggestion to me….
Look it up yourself Frank.

It is very easy to find. It is common knowledge for those of us that read more than propoganda.

The URL you didn’t give doesn’t work for me. (But of course: since you didn’t give me the URL, it obviously can’t work on my side.)

But at least you can put a figure offhand on the oh-so-huge number of freedom-hating errors that Gore so treasonously made. Or can’t you?

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

Here you go…
Results 1 - 10 of about 689,000 for 35 errors in inconvenient truth. (0.04 seconds)

just one source of many. http://jeffreyellis.org/blog/?p=31

Too lazy to do real research, troll?

Quoth the British Judge:
“It is substantially founded upon scientific research and fact”
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2007/2288.html

“But denialists always advocate Doing Nothing until everything is 110% certain. I say, screw them.”

So now you admit that enviro-hand-wringers should abandon their much revered “precautionary principle”.

Or do you only abandon your principles when it suits you?

Here is the rest of the story:
http://antigreen.blogspot.com/

Excerpt:
The Greenie article from the BBC below sounds like a sober and balanced account of scientific findings. It is not. It is so evasive that it does not link to, quote or or even name the scientific article it purports to describe. One would normally expect some link on a website. So why is there none? Because the article says some things that DON’T suit the Greenie agenda. And the BBC writer does not mention those things, funnily enough. Rather amazing cheek but very BBC. These days BBC seems to stand for British Bias Corporation.

Oh, so the BBC is “biased” because it doesn’t say anything about those screaming idiots writing in blogs.

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

“So now you admit that enviro-hand-wringers should abandon their much revered `precautionary principle’.”

The “precautionary principle” doesn’t say to pollute until the pollution is proven to be harmful, you know.

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

Sounds similar to a night on the town. A person starts drinking, feels fairly good after a couple of beers, thinks a few more won’t hurt so they drink four or five more, starts to feel really good, thinks a couple more won’t hurt, then has another three or four and then gets sick.

If you look closely at this study it only addresses one possible causal mechanism for the clear and obvious correlation between solar activity and climate. This correlation actually explains why we have seen recent cooling which the IPCC models totally fail to explain (the IPCC models predict C02 forcing with positive feedbacks in which one would expect the period of 1998-2008 to be one of constant and increasing warming, like a hockey stick).

“the clear and obvious correlation between solar activity and climate”

Eh, what?

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

Yes Frank. The correlation is far better than with CO2. It really is obvious to anyone that looks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Sunspot_Numbers.png

Sunspot numbers correlate with… sunspot numbers?

There’s no axis labeled “temperature” on the graph.

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

As frank pointed out, the graph at troll’s link does not even show temperature. But it does show a peak for sunspot activity at aprox 1980, even though temperature continued to rise more sharply than at any time since 1945. This one shows sunspot activity, CO2 and temperature all on the same graph:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Temp-sunspot-co2.svg

In other words, beginning in 1980 the sunspot correlation with temperature is not only not better than with CO2, it is in the opposite direction. The not so Great Global Warming Swindle propaganda film dealt with this inconvenient truth by simply truncating their graph at 1980.

As I said, shallow arguments for shallow minds.

11) The IPCC doesn’t conduct any of its own modelling; it’s a summary of existing scientific research so the models are not belonging to them but their respective authors. Like the folks at NASA and the Hadley Centre etc

2) Models are created with existing variables and reasonable assumptions for the increase in certain variables, in order to predict long term trends. Since solar activity exists on regular cycles, any significant deviation from this normal routine, like a slight lull in solar activity or a sudden spike cannot be forecasted or predicted. Thus any major changes in the suns output increasing or decreasing in the future cannot possibly be added into a model. That’s like ohh saying we should include in our model 20 years from now that the sun will have a flurry of sunspot activity during one of its more quiet periods, one simply cannot do this. That’s not something that can be modelled or even factored into a model.

3) There is no question solar activity is the single most important climatic factor in the equation in terms of watts per square meter or energy added to the atmosphere, turn off the sun and its an iceball etc. Greenhouse gasses, various atmosphere effects and landforms/landscape features all, amplify or reduce the over watts per square meter of energy added to the atmosphere. For more reading on why solar cannot possibly explain the recent warming and climate change, read the attribution of the recent climate change section in the IPCC report, google search would suffice. Thus the point I am making is that if all things stay constant, like solar activity, greenhouse gas emissions, weather cycles, ocean currents, etc then a model will paint a fantastic picture of what is to come. Sadly the real word doesnt quite work so well but thats not to discount a model, they provide valuable information on the ideal situations.

4)1998 was an exceptionally warm year. Mostly due to weather factors occurring that are on semi regular cycles. To choose an exceptionally hot year above existing trends as a start point is not a good place to make a trend judgement. Actually if you look at the temperature trends from 1940 to 2007 you will find 4 different times periods where cooling occurs. The single best explanation for this is that regular variability exists, not all factors are static and thus an overall long term trend is what is important. Climate is measured on at least 30 year intervals due to this variability within the overall picture. 10 years picking an exceptionally warm year as a start point is a) bad form b) not long enough to say is a climatic trend. Just look at the temp trends over the last 70 years for a good indication how much variability there is and why no one uses less than 30 to make any climatic statements. Its most likly that the last few years are all within the natural variability of the over all trend, IE warming trend.

“Al Gore’s fact-based documentary, An Inconvenient Truth”

“Fact-based” – gotta love that expression. Like saying hot-dogs are “meat-based”. In both cases, you have a monstrous stew made from entrails and floor-sweepings.

Given the extensive amount of exposure that Gore’s outright falsehoods and fictions have received, I’m surprised that anyone is still brazen enough to use the word “fact” in the same sentence as Gore’s name.

But, then again, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, given the slavish devotion of Gore’s followers.

“Given the extensive amount of exposure that Gore’s outright falsehoods and fictions have received”

Such as adding made-up data to Svensmark and Friis-Christensen’s graph? Oops, wrong “documentary” – this gem was in The Great Global Warming Swindle, as I pointed out above.

Stupid * Stupid = Pink fluff, at least in the denialist universe.

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

Interesting to note that only two comments address the Sloan & Wolfendale paper. As usual, troll and rob just try to divert attention to gore and ait, and the rest compliantly follow.

Shallow arguments from shallow minds.

OK, my bad (partly). But I just had to mention TGGWS’s hilarious graph. :)

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Frank Bi, http://tinyurl.com/yrpnmd
“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

“As usual, troll and rob just try to divert attention to gore and ait”

Divert attention? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m pretty sure the original article (who’s thread you are complaining about) invokes both Gore and his movie, which the author hilariously refers to as “fact-based(tm)”.

Your own feeble attempt at diversion is noted, however.

As for the infamous 9 ‘errors’ in An Inconvenient Truth (note the single quotes, exactly as the British Law Lord used them), or ‘lies’ as troll, rob and their ilk are want to call them, only one of them is outright factually incorrect, namely, that some Pacific island nations have already been evacuated.

The judge found that all of the other ‘errors’ were in whole or in part based on scientific fact, but that some of them were alarmist or exaggerated for impact, and thus directed that a Guidence Note be incorporated into the study pack for teachers to use do address the 9 ‘errors’ when showing the film.

But don’t take my word for it. The judge’s full ruling can be found here:
http://www.cpi.cam.ac.uk/gore/pdf/Al%20Gore%20ruling%20-%2010%20Oct.pdf

And RealClimate’s comments on the ruling can be found here:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/10/convenient-untruths/langswitch_lang/in#more-483

Once again shallow arguments from shallow minds.

Of course you trust your sources and I don’t.
Specially RC as they are clearly agenda drive propganda shills for the AGW industry.
Adn I trust my sources which of course you wouldn’t.

But my source list 35, most of which are serious.
Example:
The snows of Kilimonjaro.
Complete lie. No agruing that one.

(perfect handle, by the way), the judge only found 9 worth addressing (read his judgement), so stuff the other 26 where the sun don’t shine, like the dark side of the moon.

Re Kilimonjaro, as the RealClimate link points out, all of the suspected causes are themselves related directly or indirectly to climate change.

“shills for the AGW industry” What a hoot!

I used to post with my name, but since so many AGW cultist are just rude and kept calling me a troll, I adopted it.
I kind of like it.
Saves time too.

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monckton/goreerrors.html

Your right, I don’t trust your sources if they are rank ignorant opinion pieces written by a non-scientist like this one. And his lardship Monckton can stick the 26 up his nether parts.

Troll thinks a peer-reviewed paper is one that Monckton read.

What’s the matter, troll, no comment on being busted for coming up short on your cite for the correlation between sunspot activity and temperature after 1980?

I have a job actually.
I can only devote limited time to such trivial nonsnese as this.
It is just an amusement after all.
If it were serious, I would put real effort in it.
AGW deserves about as much attention as creation science.

Yeah because the lack of any significant increase in solar output, absence of any degree of correlation with sunspots and with raising temperatures is trivial!…..ewwh that sounds a lot like something quite significant to me….again suggested reading would be attribution of recent climate change in the IPCC report

it that you think is on par with creation ‘science’?

Is it the known and demonstrated scientific fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas?
It’s only been known for almost 150 years, now. See: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

Is it the known and demonstrated infrared radiative physics of greenhouse gasses?
See: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2000/2000JD900241.shtml

Is it the fact that atmospheric CO2 has increased by more than 38% since 1750, with half of that increase since 1970?
See: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_glob.htm

Is it the fact that the ratio of carbon 13 in atmospheric CO2 is falling from historic natural levels, thereby demonstrating that the increase is without doubt due to combustion of fossil fuels, which are relatively low in 13C?
See: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/256/5053/74
and: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2001/2000GB001352.shtml

Is it the fact that methane, nitrous oxides and chlorofluorocarbons–all greenhouse gasses that are more powerful than CO2–have increased in the atmosphere even faster than CO2?
See: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v344/n6266/abs/344529a0.html

Is it the fact that global mean temperature has increased as atmospheric CO2 has increased?
See: http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcrut3/diagnostics/global/nh+sh/
(note the error warning at the top of the page that debunks denialist nonsense about this winter’s cold temperatures erasing past warming)
and: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/nhshgl.gif

Or is it that it has nothing what so ever to do with science, which you appear to know and understand very little about, and everything to do with ideological belief?

Very nicely done, I made simular posts in the past but they tend to get ignored by the trolls. Dont forget to add attribution to recent climate change section of the IPCC report as required reading as well

A few of the items you sited are facts but don’t alter the outcome any. AGW is still just a weak theory.
Its corolation with Creation science is:

Both began with the conclusion.
Both sought out cherry picked facts to support the conlusion.
Both jelously protect a narrow set of doctrins and repeat the back to each other incessently to reinforce the faith.
Both refuse to consider any opinions or theories that challange the established doctrine.

Try reading just a few RECENT studies (as oposed to the out of date IPCC stuff) and you too can be deprogrammed.
Even the IPCC is admitting they are in trouble now.
Solar found to be 69% of forcing, Dust found to be large part of forcing, Natural PDO and ADO shifts, and on and on and on.

Sorry guys. But AGW is surviving on momentum now.

And I note that you attempt to refute none of them.

Instead, you revert to the pathetic assertion that those who are persuaded by the science that AGW is real are motivated by faith and dogma.

“Both began with the conclusion”

False. AGW theory is built on 150 years of scientific observation, measurement and experiment across multiple disciplines as presented in literally thousands of peer reviewed scientific papers.

“Both sought out cherry picked facts to support the conlusion.”

False. It is those who deny the validity of AGW who repeatedly cherry pick and distort real facts and data and outright fabricate ‘evidence’ to support their preexisting conclusion.

“Both jelously protect a narrow set of doctrins and repeat the back to each other incessently to reinforce the faith.”

The “it’s a religion” argument is about as weak as it gets.

“Both refuse to consider any opinions or theories that challange the established doctrine.”

Sorry, opinions don’t count for much in science, but you wouldn’t know that, and a hypothesis advances to become a theory only when it is supported by a body of consistent evidence, but you wouldn’t know that either. To date, not a single hypothesis that either undermines AGW theory or proposes an alternative forcing of the same or greater magnitude has advanced to the status of becoming a theory. But you wouldn’t know that either.

Take home lesson for the weekend:

troll, like so many other purveyors of pseudoscience, ignorance, obfuscation, misdirection and obstruction, is full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

It is a waste of time to give him the time of day, let alone the attention he craves.

Told you he wasnt going to bother to read it. But then argueing with any science denier goes like that. No matter how much science you present they deny it or its implications. Everything you posted about is factual….greenhouse gases (great name for them) act like greenhouse gasses (yeah never saw that one coming) and have been increasing due to human activity. Increase them for the most part is going to lead to an increase om temperature of the atmosphere as the greenhouse effect is also a well known and established fact, this has been known for over 150 years…..Denying fundamentals is only the tip of the iceberg, trying to have a discussion about anything more complex is out the window. Good post, to bad it was over his for lack of better word, scientifically uneducated head perhaps a couple unversity classes would do him some good….Cheers Carl

Carl, I’ve encountered troll’s and rob’s type many, many times on many other blogs.

After reading and observing this blog for a few weeks before I started posting I noticed both troll and rob spend an inordinate amount of their time spreading the same old tired and unsubstantiated assertions. Not even pseudoscience, really, just mindless tripe. They aren’t knowledgeable enough to address the science, instead they just seek to derail threads and heap scorn on that which they do not understand. They aren’t even smart enough to come up with their own arguments, they just regurgitate those propagated by the usual handful of charlatans and crackpots. They’re really just posturing, bullying followers, and like all bullies, when challenged they back down, change the subject or just slink away. But they always come back and use the exact same discredited arguments and parroted talking points the next time.

Ignorance, because it is caused by simple lack of exposure or access to information, is a correctable condition.
Willful ignorance, on the other hand, takes hard work and stubborn tenacity to prevent facts and objective reality from undermining an underlying belief, dogma or ideology.
It is rarely curable.

That is indeed a fair summary. Ignorance, willful, is after all an intentional desire not to accept reality. I was reading a survey that approximated 20% of Americans were scientifically literate. I assume Canadians are not so far off, this would be rather revealing how easy it is for society at large to be influenced by any person in a lab coat holding a clip board claiming to be a scientist, or an expert.

I have no doubt that denial of reality, by in large is due to lack of education i.e. literacy on relevant topics. Ancient Greek thinkers would describe education and as a painful process of being dragged towards the exit of a dark cave. While an interesting metaphor, there is some truth that people resist learning about their reality. People resist and still do largely on a number of topics that mirror this one….things like that the world is more than 6000 years old, that everything we see today is a result of natural selection and evolution, and that yes greenhouse gases act like greenhouse gases. It seems illogical for me that this even happens, but perhaps that’s a result of my education in sciences….keep posting though I appreciate reading your posts at least. Carl

Is it the fact that global mean temperature has increased as atmospheric CO2 has increased?

It is that lack of a prediction part that makes AGW more politics than science. Ever since AGW burst on the scene, or really, climatology, we have been treated to a spectacular flurry of predictions that have floundered.

AGW would cause more hurricanes, and when they don’t show up, we find out that AGW will actually cause less hurricanes. Global temperatures would gradually increase but now, they have been flat since 1998. Its getting a little long to call that merely a weather pattern and not a climate trend by itself. The fact is, this year, at Mauna Loa, the CO2 recorded is on track to be LOWER this year than last? How is THAT possible? And by the way scientists looking for AGW heat in the oceans haven’t found it, and in fact it snowed in China, and it even snowed in Iraq.

Now, we have the prediction, again, that this year’s cooler winter temperatures are the result of La Nina, and that, by this summer, after La Nina ends, the earth will start warming up again. Sunspot advocates, such as myself, say that the earth will continue to cool down because of the lack of sunspots. So, there you have it, there is the bet. If there is AGW, it will get warmer. If there are no sunspots, then it will get colder. We can take the temperature at the end of the year and see, and dispatch with all of this argument knowing that the outcome will result in settled fact.

People find what they look for and the minute a scientist believes his own hypothesis, he’s a dead duck as a scientist.
Climate change is not man-made.
It’s not solar irradiance alone.
It’s not sunspots alone.
It’s not CO2 above 18 C.
it’s not water vapour alone.
It’s not cosmic radiation alone.’
But it may be cosmic and solar radiation modulated by solar magnetic activity subtly changing the cloud albedo of Earth.
Beware the unintended consequences of sequestering plant food during the famine.

Assertions, assertions, and yet more assertions.

Science is not a democracy where all opinions have equal weight, it is a meritocracy where ideas stand or fall on the weight of the evidence.

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