Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Anthropogenic Global Warming--The Problem of Perspective

A lot of Deniers have pointed out that the CO2-temperature charts have some congruence but a reversal of cause and effect. However, we also note that on the sun spot-temperature charts, the temperature actually follows the sun spot numbers quite closely. The fewer the number of sun spots the cooler it is here on Earth. Thus, the long minimum of Cycle 23 and the very late start of Cycle 24, has a lot of people predicting a continued cooling, a la the Dalton Minimum in the early 19th Century. The New York Times had today a long and relatively fair coverage of the idea, radical as it seems, that the sun causes heating, and cooling, of our beautiful planet.

Here is a near hidden gem, however:

The idea that solar cycles are related to climate is hard to fit with the actual change in energy output from the sun. From solar maximum to solar minimum, the Sun’s energy output drops a minuscule 0.1 percent.

So a .1% drop in energy is minuscule. However, the effect of .038% of the atmosphere (that part which is CO2) is huge and forces the entire system of heating the atmosphere and oceans. Yes, I can see how in a certain (anti-scientific) frame of reference, .1% could be perceived as minuscule and .038% could be perceived as huge. It could happen.
(h/t E.G. at Planet Gore on the NRO)


Absent other confounding factors (always a dangerous caveat when talking about the climate), a 0.1% reduction in energy should result in about a 0.3 degree C drop in mean temperature. Note that this is the steady state mean; there's a significant amount of hysteresis in global temperature.
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