Blame It On Sunspots

Posted by Jeff Rubin on August 18th, 2010 under SmallerWorld • 18 Comments

It’s a good thing we don’t care about carbon emissions. Otherwise we might be more than a little concerned when the Petermann Glacier in Greenland calves off a chunk of ice several times the size of the island of Manhattan. Or when record-breaking, scorching summer temperatures and prolonged drought have turned Russia’s parched boreal forest into a giant tinderbox, sending Moscow residents scurrying indoors to avoid the suffocating smoke and reducing the country’s wheat harvest by a third. Or when the worst monsoon rains in 80 years in Pakistan have caused unprecedented flooding and devastation in the country, leaving millions stranded.

It might have been fun exposing overzealous claims about the imminent demise of the Himalayan glaciers, but it seems no one is laughing about global climate change now. And with good reason.

According to a recently released study by NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), during the first six months of 2010, the combined ocean and land temperature was the hottest on record. This summer is continuing the record-setting trend. And just in case you thought this year might be an anomaly, the warming trend so far is consistent with what NOAA has found over the last decade across no less than 10 measures of global warming, running the gambit from land and sea temperatures to the decline in Arctic sea ice.

Every year seems to furnish us with more and more graphic images of global climate change. And yet, other than the temporary reprieve we got during the world’s deepest post-war recession, there seems to be no let-up in the growth of global carbon emissions.

Of course as long as emissions don’t cost anybody anything, why would we expect any halt in emissions growth? After all, the engine of global economic growth still runs on burning coal and oil. And we’re certainly no closer to putting a price on carbon emissions today than we were before the much-anticipated global environmental summit in Copenhagen last December.

With most emerging market economies dreaming of emulating China’s carbon-spewing industrialization, don’t expect any multilateral breakthroughs on global carbon management anytime soon. Nor should we, given the huge disparities in energy consumption per capita between the developed and the developing worlds.

But at the same time, we are no closer to seeing any unilateral steps to price carbon on the part of wealthy emitters like North America, for example. Carbon legislation is effectively dead-ended in Congress with the Waxman-Markey bill unable to pass in the Senate, while legislation isn’t even on the drawing board with the Canadian federal government. Like China, North America fears huge adverse economic consequences from pricing the carbon it emits into the atmosphere.

As a result, carbon emissions continue to pose no cost to our economy. Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder and harder to say the same about climate change.

  • Rojelio

    Could this be any more depressing? What do you think about the observation that innovations in technology grow exponentially? Can this help us at all? Don't get me wrong, I understand we're screwed hard by a peak oil scenario. However, consider for example, installed global PV capactiy has doubled in the last 2 years to 24GW, which itself is a doubling from 2 years previous to that. The trend continues accelerating despite the depression, at least so far. Ditto for wind. Innovations in batteries, lighting seem to be finally starting down this road also. Mature examples of this exponential growth phase like computers and DNA sequencing seem to occur regardless of what the politicians do, whether or not there's a recession, the clustuerf*^k in Copenhagen etc… Thus, if we're hypothetically make renewable energy a major player by say 2020, then you'd expect 99.9% of that installed capacity to be made in the last few months of 2019 and all the years preceding that to be unbearably slow and frustrating.

  • ontheotherhand

    Have you bothered to look at what is going on in the southern hemisphere? People, livestock,
    wildlife, fish all dying from intense cold. Check out Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Argentina even Australia. Overall no global warming will be found this year as in the last 15 and the NOAA promoters have now found that the last 10 years or satellite data have been corrupted and removed from their website.
    CO2 based computer models have all failed to predict the temperature trends and the warmers are in full retreat. Solar influences on the jetstream are paramount in modifying weather patterns. See forcasts by Piers Corbyn at and forget about CO2

  • Rojelio

    Forget about CO2. Really? Sir, you provide a fine example for why it takes so long for some progressive technologies to get past this lag phase to finally reach a tipping point for sustainable exponential growth.

  • fd

    that is exactly as expected…they are in winter remember…hence more extreme temps…

  • 1Eco_Indigo_1

    There is also evidence that the entire solar system is heating up. I believe Mars ice caps melted in six months! I don't think there are 6 billion people on mars driving cars? who knows, maybe its a cover up.

    Either way, its indisputable that the whole global warming thing is a twist on a galactic phenomenon in order to scare joe sixpack into reducing fossil fuel consumption, which is a bit demented, but a clever way of indirectly getting a message across.

    I submit that pakistan has been hit with a terrible disaster because of the massive bad vibes there. Look whats going on, terrorism, Foreign occupation, corrupt government, social crisis. Its not a good place to be.

    Anyway, i think the cars may be off the road regardless of oil shortages if the sun unleashes a really big flare. I read that onboard computers just break when solar storms hit the earth.

  • GD

    Well I can't speak for the others but In Australia you got it pretty wrong. Slightly above average. If you want to concentrate on the occasional freak storm that blew through the outback that is up to you.


  • ontheotherhand

    New from Aus…a good read for you and Jeff Rubin…

    Laputans in Retreat
    Ray Evans

    Climate: The Counter Consensus by Robert M. Carter
    (Stacey International, 2010)

    Bob Carter is a member of a small group of Australian scientists (although he was born in the UK and mostly educated in New Zealand) who, having attained a distinguished position in their disciplines (he is a paleo-climatologist), were willing to put their reputations on the line by speaking out against the most extraordinary fraud in the history of Western science: the fantasy that by controlling anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, mankind can control global temperatures; a miraculous global thermostat.

    This fantasy is so bizarre that Jonathan Swift could, using statements from today’s Royal Society without embellishment, write them into his account of the kingdom of Laputa. The citizens of Laputa lived on a cloud and threw rocks at rebellious surface cities beneath them. Using Laputa as a satire on the Royal Society, Swift portrayed the ruin brought about by the attempts by the scientists living in the clouds to impose their will on the helpless people living below them.
    Bob Carter’s book is a well written account of the deep corruption of our scientific inheritance which has been central to the spread of this fantasy. It is a fantasy which has spread throughout the intellectual, political and religious elites of the English-speaking world, and which has infected key Australian institutions, notably the CSIRO, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and virtually all our universities.

    The foundation arguments on which this entire nonsense-structure is built are very simple. First, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide control the sun’s energy flow to and from the Earth and thus control global temperatures in particular and global climate generally. Second, anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are driving atmospheric concentrations of this gas inexorably higher and higher, and the consequence will be climate catastrophe.

    These two arguments have no evidence to support them. None. And there is a mountain of evidence which negates them. Much of this negation is found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s first assessment report published in 1990. One of the graphs published in this report was a global temperature graph, originally the work of Hubert Lamb, the founder of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (the centre of the Climategate e-mails). His temperature curve ran from 900 AD to 2000 and showed very clearly the Medieval Warm Period (850 to 1350) and the Little Ice Age (1400 to 1850).

    This graph, on its own, was enough to negate the first element of the thermo-maniacs’ foundation, and seriously undermine the second. It was argued in defence of the alleged unique quality of twentieth-century warming that although the Medieval Warm Period was admittedly an era of pre-industrial higher temperatures, the contemporary inputs of anthropogenic carbon dioxide into the atmosphere were unprecedented and a new scientific paradigm was necessary to cover this unprecedented “pollution”.

    Despite this attempt to rewrite the laws of physics and chemistry which have served us well for at least two centuries, the Medieval Warm Period remained as a serious barrier to the acceptance of the doctrine of a global temperature controlled by mankind’s emissions. In a famous e-mail Jonathon Overpeck, a member of the Climategate cabal, stressed the need to “do something” about the Medieval Warm Period.

    Carter carefully describes the attempts by Michael Mann and his colleagues to wipe out the Medieval Warm Period as an historical event through the invention of the “Hockey Stick”. The consequent unmasking of this fraud is an exciting story, well told here, with careful attention to the details and with references to a wide range of papers. In Australia, members of the Climategate conspiracy, notably David Karoly, kept on supporting the Hockey Stick well beyond 2007, a defence which might be seen as heroic under the circumstances, but which for the conspirators was a necessity, given the crucial role of the Hockey Stick in defence of the IPCC’s arguments about the unprecedented nature of late-twentieth-century global warming.

    Following the humiliation of the EU and its supporters (including Australia) at Copenhagen last December, the whole Anthropogenic Global Warming structure is now falling down, as one key structural element collapses after another. Even the Royal Society of London, for years a rock-solid player in this fraud, has announced the establishment of a committee to inquire into the Society’s role and conduct in this debate.

    Bob Carter’s book covers all the elements of this structure of fraud and deceit: the bogus computer models (used by the CSIRO as evidence of rising sea levels along the Australian coast, thus justifying the expropriation of people’s property along the coast through the negation of building permits); the temperature record going back decades, centuries, millennia, and half a million years; and the carbon dioxide record covering the same time scales. He covers the ocean acidification scam; the rising-sea-level scam; the Great Barrier Reef scam; but most interesting of all is his discussion of climate in geological time. Since paleoclimatology is his forte it is not surprising that his description of climate events going back hundreds of thousands of years is riveting. At some point in the not too distant future (two to three millennia perhaps) the Earth will undergo, quite rapidly, a shift into ice-age conditions which will make human habitation here extremely difficult. With our present state of knowledge and technology, there would be nothing we could do to prevent it.

    As far as we can determine, during the period from 1943 to 1975 the Earth cooled by nearly a degree Celsius (although anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide were rising sharply), and this trend precipitated fear of a new ice age. However, following the switch in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation from cool to warm in 1975–76, global temperatures began to rise and the ice age scare quickly gave way to the global warming scare, and within thirty years or so to the situation where we were on the point of wreaking great harm on our nation.

    Bob Carter discusses the motivating forces behind the intellectual and moral corruption which has been the central issue in this story, and here we find a scientist who is bewildered by what he has seen. He accepts Aynsley Kellow’s arguments concerning the corruption which follows from adherence to a “noble cause”—in this case “saving the planet”. In my view this is a serious misreading of the situation and it follows from a profound misunderstanding of the nature, doctrine and purposes of the environmentalist movement, which has been driving the Anthropogenic Global Warming fantasy for more than twenty-five years.

    The Greens are the political face of the environmentalist movement and they have become extremely influential, not only as separate political parties, but as factions within the major parties throughout the Anglosphere and very clearly within our own Liberal and Labor parties. Because they have been able to play the political game with great skill they have not been subjected to proper scrutiny. John Howard, for example, failed to realise that the environmentalist movement is an existential threat to Western civilisation, indeed to all civilisation.

    The core articles of faith of the Greens are the sanctity of “nature”, and the depravity of mankind. Their hatred of mankind is revealed time and time again in their oft-expressed desire to see new plagues wipe out the greater part of the world’s peoples. The creation of more and more “wilderness”, from which humans are barred, is a manifestation of this awful misanthropy, and the ultimate goal of this movement is an Earth which is no longer polluted by any human beings at all. It is an anti-theist movement with a deep hatred of its own kind, which it sees as depraved and incapable of redemption.

    There is a growing realisation in the democracies of the Western world that they have been conned by the thermo-maniacs. In Australia the Senate saved us from the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) bill, which had it been passed, would have wreaked irretrievable damage on Australia in its economic, social and political life. Bob Carter was one of those Australian scientists who were not only able to convince many parliamentarians that the science on which the CPRS Bill was based was “absolute crap”, but also, by speaking at hundreds of meetings throughout the land, persuaded thousands of rank-and-file members and supporters of the Coalition parties that Tony Abbott’s famous declaration last September at Beaufort, Victoria, was correct. And it was the rank-and-file’s overwhelming pressure on the Coalition parliamentary parties that led to Malcolm Turnbull’s demise as Opposition Leader and to Tony Abbott’s succession.

    What are the political consequences of this great change in the tide of affairs? In former times a king who persisted in ruinous policies was eventually forced to save his throne and the monarchy itself, by abandoning the adviser who was most identified with the policy, conducting a trial, and then executing the former favourite. Under such circumstances Charles I agreed to the execution of the Earl of Strafford, an act of which he repented at his own beheading.

    As the federal and state parliaments begin to retreat from the ruinous policies of de-carbonisation to which they are currently still committed, such as renewable energy targets, attempts to turn coal-based power stations into gas-fired power stations, bio-char, and carbon dioxide reduction by command-and-control measures of one kind or another, there will be a need to find a scapegoat upon whom the burden of guilt can be laid. Such a scapegoat is ready at hand: the CSIRO, which has become so deeply corrupted by its thirty-year participation in this scam that its demise will be a welcome reminder that the wages of corruption are institutional disaster and disgrace.

    There will be a need for a trial, in this case a Royal Commission with terms of reference which will allow it to bring to light the full story of how this once respected organisation betrayed the principles on which it was founded by Ian Clunies Ross in the 1940s and 1950s. As his book demonstrates, Bob Carter will be an invaluable witness at this Royal Commission.

    Ray Evans is Secretary of the Lavoisier Group, which was formed in Australia in 2000 to promote debate on the science of climate change.

    Visit the publisher’s website here…

  • Siddharth Soni

    Dear Jeff,

    I am about to finish (am on pg 213 out of a total of 265 in the paper edition available here) reading your 'lovely' book. I admire your effort. And I have a suggestion.

    I want this book to be printed in as many languages as possible. Am from India, so definitely want this translated and printed in the Hindi and other native languages here.

    And I want this book available at subsidized (or rather, reduced) prices :) so that it reaches as many people as possible. If countries can subsidize oil in spite of everything, why not this amazing book.

    I can volunteer for the legwork.

    Thank you.

    Siddharth, Mumbai

  • isaac

    Global warming, carbon emissions, credits/taxes, blah blah blah.

    Whether anthropogenic global warming is real or not, it is a problem which can not be solved.

    No combination of alternative energy sources will allow us to run even a tiny fraction of what we're running now*, and we're extremely dependent on fossil fuels for agriculture. All nitrogen fertilizers used are natural gas based, and all synthetic pesticides are petroleum based. Synthetic petrochemical products in conjunction with cheap diesel fuel has allow us to temporarily increase the carrying capacity of the earth from 1-2 billion MAX to 7+ billion; hence, advocating the reduction of CO2 emissions is effectively advocating for famine/death, especially in the 3rd world. 10 CALORIES WORTH OF HYDROCARBON ENERGY ARE BURNED, FOR EVERY ONE CALORIE OF FOOD PRODUCED IN AN INDUSTRIAL MANNER. (organic agriculture can not support 6.7 billion people)

    *Ethanol is a joke (nat. gas / petroleum based, poor EroI), hydrogen is not a source of energy, wind/solar don't provide much energy and can not be controlled or dispatched (essential to maintain a reliable electricity supply), and hydrogen is not even a source of energy. As for moving towards an electric society, using electricity (as opposed to oil/gas) for heating/transportation would entail building lots of new coal fired plants, which the climate doomers are opposed to for obvious reasons; nuclear is too expensive, gas is subject to the same depletion problems as oil, and wind/solar are useless (other than running some CFLs and an energy efficient fridge in an off the grid house).

    In a perfect world, energy efficiency at best could reduce consumption by 30%; however, in the real world, jevon's paradox applies – we're going to burn up every hydrocarbon molecule we can get out of the ground to survive.

    The climatologists tell us that we need to cut GHG emissions by 80% to “save the world”; for the average north american, that would entail spending tens of thousands of dollars per person on solar panels/batteries/inverters* (we're drowning in debt right now!), doing with no motorized transportation, eating no meat, and doing away with central heating/cooling, along with domestic hot water.

    *Note: Renewable energy might just be a figment of the fossil fuel economy – you can't power solar panel manufacturing plants (or the equipment required to mine the precious metals) with solar panels!

    A tax on fuel will merely dramatically increase energy costs for individuals and perhaps provide an incentive to upgrade/retrofit buildings (again, jevon's paradox applies – surplus energy will just be used to travel more, consume more, and allow for more suburban sprawl). In the end, governments are powerless to modify alter human behavior in a productive with incentives/taxes; individuals will have to BECOME ENERGY LITERATE and figure things out by themselves (when oil/natural gas production dramatically declines and/or the climate drastically changes), or die – the problems discussed here can not be solved by government or big business.

  • isaac

    - I should have edited it prior to posting – damn.

  • isaac


    *Ethanol is a joke (nat. gas / petroleum based, poor EroI), hydrogen is not a source of energy, wind/solar don't provide much energy and can not be controlled or dispatched (great for running CFLs and a refrigerator in an off the grid house, useless for maintaining a reliable electricity supply), and hydrogen is not even a source of energy. As for switching to electricity from fossil fuels for heating/transportation, doing so would mean having to dramatically increase coal use, which the climate doomers are opposed to for obvious reasons; nuclear is too expensive (especially in this economy), gas is subject to the same depletion problems as oil, and wind/solar are out. – see above

  • Roccoracioppo

    This posting ignores all the freezing temperatures in the southern hemisphere.

    Its amazing that “global warming” aka “climate change” is still belived by so many when the original data in the IPCC report was made up.

    Carbon dioxide is a green gas. Period. Its what greens our planet.

  • zeke

    I, continue, to be amazed at people who insist on commenting to articles like this who have little, or no, comprehension of the real issues about climate change. Several of you could do with some serious studying before commenting.

    I, especially, like Issacs blah, blah, blah. It's a little like the chronic drug user who knows his/her usage is going to kill them but as long as they're alive, all is laughed off. I assume Issac is of an age where he'll die before any of this impacts him. I'm sure his grandchildren will have a different take on the matter.

    As I age, I think of all the people I've known, including myself at times, who refused to face reality and went to their graves with that attitude. Personally, I've watched climate change coming on for decades. I've listened to the same old crap ie it was cold in my town this winter or some other simplistic statement that is, actually, simple denial and/or the ignorance of the difference between climate change and weather.

    I'm of the opinion that no matter how serious the situation I'd rather give a solution a run rather than sit in utter helplessness and all the garbage emotions that go with it.

    One question I have though. Why do you people read articles like this? Is it amusing to write sarcastic, simplistic comments? What's your agenda?

  • liquidsnake2010

    Hydrogen can create energy because the sun does it. Perhaps we are missing an important factor – water itself.

    If you watch 'Water the great mystery' on google video, you will see a scientist mention that when the water is completely extracted from crude oil, the crude oil doesnt burn. That means that we are essentially using petroleum as a catalyst for water! the energy is from water itself. Think about the chain here. fossil fuels created by sunlight millions of years ago, sunlight created by…..hydrogen! its just figuring oout a renewable catalyst to make water burn.

    Imagine how easy it would be if all you had to do was get the water, clean it/restructure it and add a catalyst to it so its usable as a fuel? all we would need is the catalyst itself,which im sure if even some amateur scientists tried out, you could formulate.

    I think its a matter of perspective, but either way, time is running out to become enlightened.

  • Oilman

    What is the difference between “climate-change” and “weather”? Please explain. Also, how many decades have you been observing.

  • isaac

    I love pseudo-scientific nonsense.

    “Hydrogen can create energy because the sun does it. Perhaps we are missing an important factor – water itself. “

    Please google nuclear fusion.

    Combustion and cellular respiration: Hydrogen/carbon (oil/gas/coal/carbohydrates in food) + oxygen in -> Energy + hydrogen/oxygen(water) + carbon/oxygen (CO2) out

    The energy contained in the molecular bonds of the hydrocarbons get released.

    For hydrogen…

    hydrogen/oxygen (water) + energy in = hydrogen + oxygen out, some energy lost in conversion

    hydrogen + oxygen in = energy* (again, some lost in conversion) + hydrogen/oxygen (water) out

    *in the form of electricity to separate the hydrogen and oxygen. (hydrogen can be extracted from hydrocarbons -aka methane/natural gas, a fossil fuel)

    Molecules are recycleable but energy is subject to the first law of thermodynamics.

    To suggest that energy can be derived from water itself (with no chemical reaction requiring input energy) is as ridiculous as claiming that humans can survive on water alone without ingesting carbo-hydrates (aka hydrocarbons)

  • Jason

    Again..could nuclear be the answer? Duh.

  • Radioexec

    Karma?? Thats why it flooded. Holy cow. No more Kool Aid for you!