Thursday, July 12, 2007

Melanie Phillips - Half-Baked Fruitcake?

Melanie Phillips recently worked herself into a frenzy over the following article about solar activity:

In a series of groundbreaking scientific papers starting in 2002, Veizer, Shaviv, Carslaw, and most recently Svensmark et al., have collectively demonstrated that as the output of the sun varies, and with it, our star’s protective solar wind, varying amounts of galactic cosmic rays from deep space are able to enter our solar system and penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. These cosmic rays enhance cloud formation which, overall, has a cooling effect on the planet. When the sun’s energy output is greater, not only does the Earth warm slightly due to direct solar heating, but the stronger solar wind generated during these “high sun” periods blocks many of the cosmic rays from entering our atmosphere. Cloud cover decreases and the Earth warms still more.

The opposite occurs when the sun is less bright. More cosmic rays are able to get through to Earth’s atmosphere, more clouds form, and the planet cools more than would otherwise be the case due to direct solar effects alone. This is precisely what happened from the middle of the 17th century into the early 18th century, when the solar energy input to our atmosphere, as indicated by the number of sunspots, was at a minimum and the planet was stuck in the Little Ice Age. These new findings suggest that changes in the output of the sun caused the most recent climate change. By comparison, CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet’s climate on long, medium and even short time scales.

Her response to this article? Well, it was typically Mad Mel-esque:

....more and more of the most distinguished names in climate science around the world are saying that the theory is total junk — and who, moreover, have given devastating evidence of the way the global warmers have falsified the evidence to create an entirely spurious, anti-scientific and deeply dishonest panic.

'Falsified evidence'. And how does she conclude her quaint little piece:

If I were part of the man-made global warming ‘consensus’, right now I’d be fingering my professional collar.

Aside from the obvious fingering that Mel indulges in when she reads such utter tripe, perhaps it is she who should be fingering her collar:

It has been one of the central claims of those who challenge the idea that human activities are to blame for global warming. The planet's climate has long fluctuated, say the climate sceptics, and current warming is just part of that natural cycle - the result of variation in the sun's output and not carbon dioxide emissions.

But a new analysis of data on the sun's output in the last 25 years of the 20th century has firmly put the notion to rest. The data shows that even though the sun's activity has been decreasing since 1985, global temperatures have continued to rise at an accelerating rate.

Hilariously, the report also claims that:

James Hansen, a Nasa climate scientist who was once gagged by the Bush administration for speaking out on global warming, said the issue of whether the sun's activity is causing global warming had been dispensed with by most scientists long ago. "The reason [this paper] has value is that the proponents of the notion that the sun determines everything come up with various half-baked suggestions that the sun can somehow cause an indirect forcing that is not included in the measurements of radiation coming from the sun," he said. "These half-baked notions are usually supported by empirical correlations of climate with some solar index in the past. Thus, by showing that these correlations are not consistent with recent climate change, the half-baked notions can be dispensed with."

Half-baked? Just about sums Mad Mel up really doesn't it?