Rockets, not Science

A few days ago Phil Chapman wrote in the Australian about his theory that instead of global warming, a new ice age is imminent. He supports his theory with two facts:

  • the global mean temperature in January 2008 was lower than in January 2007
  • solar cycle 24 refuses to start, although it’s about time

That’s it.

Well, the temperature (according to NOAA) in January 2008 was indeed lower than in January 2007. Chapman’s article has been published on April 23rd. At that time, the data for March 2008 were already out: and it was warmer than March 2007. Indeed, March 2007 was the warmest March on record on land, and the second warmest for sea/land combined. With Chapman’s logic (extrapolating one arbitrary month to another), we would expect warming. But that is not how it works anyway, it is the trend that is important. The trend is still rising.

Next point:

We are currently at a solar minimum, which means that solar cycle 24 is expected to start. It looks like this takes a little longer, but this is not anything unusual, in fact solar cycle 21 was just as long. From Solar Science, where Ken Tapping writes:

The current solar activity is not that unusual. At this point it is completely unjustified to see current solar behaviour as an indication of any departure from its what the Sun has been doing for at least the last 300 years.

Figure 1 shows a plot of solar activity as measured by the solar radio flux monitors operated by the National Research Council of Canada.

The arrow under the 1964-1977 cycle indicates the length of that cycle, which was a little longer than the others. That same arrow has been copied and put under the last cycle. The length is unchanged. It can be seen that the current solar activity cycle (now ending) has not yet exceeded the length of the 1964-77 cycle. It is also clear that the longish cycle in 1964-77 was followed by further activity cycles – normal solar behaviour. To exceed the duration of the 1964-1977 cycle, the new cycle would have to delay its start at least well into 2009.

But, even is the solar cycle were unusual, it still would have to be shown that this has an influence on climate. So far, any link has been spurious at best.

Well, the rest of Chapman’s article, is, (how shall I put it), um, alarmist. He writes:

There is no doubt that the next little ice age would be much worse than the previous one and much more harmful than anything warming may do. There are many more people now and we have become dependent on a few temperate agricultural areas, especially in the US and Canada. Global warming would increase agricultural output, but global cooling will decrease it.

Millions will starve if we do nothing to prepare for it (such as planning changes in agriculture to compensate), and millions more will die from cold-related diseases.

Good thing we have refuted him. Oh, but he has a brilliant solution to the problem:

We could gather all the bulldozers in the world and use them to dirty the snow in Canada and Siberia in the hope of reducing the reflectance so as to absorb more warmth from the sun.

Yeah, right. This is a rocket scientist?

See also the 3 posts on Deltoid (part 1, part 2, part 3) and on Nexus 6. Eli challenges us to find something even more stupid.

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