More on Xu and Peiser

Benny Peiser, in the comments below, suggests I am misleading my readers and asks that I set the record straight. So let me quote from both Benny’s CCNet email and the Xu et al. paper.

First Benny’s CCnet subject line:


Now Xu et al., which includes several variants on that quote. I’ll try to get them all. First:

Our study reveals that quasy-100-yr fluctuations of solar activity are possibly the primary driving force of Chinese temperatures during the past 6000 years. (emphasis added)

Then later:

Comparisons between temperature variations and solar activities indicate that both temperature trends on centennial/millennial timescales and climatic events are related to solar variability, suggesting that solar variability is possibly a primary driving force that influences temperatures. (emphasis added)

And again:

Quasi-100-year fluctuations of solar activity may be the primary driving force of temperature during the past 6000 years in China. (emphasis added)

Benny, in his comments, suggests that in his subject line he was “simply quoting the authors themselves.” But he wasn’t. The authors used qualifying words. Benny dropped them from his subject line.

Benny asks me, “How do you know what I was thinking?” My answer is that I drew an inference based on three things: first, your decision to drop those words from your headline, second, your failure to point out that the study had no relevance to the warming of the past century, and third your well-documented skepticism of the consensus view regarding the anthropogenic component of current warming.

My apologies if I inferred incorrectly. Perhaps, Benny, you might clarify what significance you think this paper does have, if any, for our understanding of changes in global climate over the past century?


  1. John

    I’m afraid you are a bit economical with the truth. Now, you are implying that I withheld the authors’ qualifying words. But in actual fact, I *highlighted* them right after the subject line so that no CCNet reader was left in any doubt about the authors’ own views.

    The reason I posted extracts of the paper should be clear to anyone who is following global warming research. As long as we are unable to understand the *basic* dynamics of what has been driving significant climate variability during the Holocene, let alone the perplexing variations in solar activity, any attempt to decipher the dynamics of more recent climate changes must remain contentious. Such research is absolutely crucial if reseachers wish to quantify the solar contribution to changing climates, past present and future. You ignore this burgeoning research at your peril.

    Benny Peiser

  2. Benny –

    I would agree that research into the dynamics of Holocene variability is important to our understanding of climate dynamics, including the solar component. I would be more sympathetic to your claim to be simply interested in informing CCNet readers on “this burgeoning research” if your quoting of it did not seem so selective. When research appears to show a solar-climate link (Kilcik, for example, or the Xu paper we’ve been discussing here) it makes CCNet. When research suggests the opposite (Damon and Laut come to mind) it does not. You ignore a portion of this burgeoning research at your peril.

  3. I thought it was well understood that the primary pre-industrial forcing was solar (orbital perturbations + irradiance changes), so given that the paper draws no conclusion with respect to the industrial era it seems… unexciting. The recent sharp warming cannot be explained by irradiance changes since those have been shown to be essentially flat by the accurate direct measurements that started in 1978, and of course such a period of time isn’t long enough for orbital perturbations to be meaningful. The excitement with which this paper was received by at least some in the denialist community is perhaps a sign of their increasing need to grasp at any straw.

  4. John

    As you know, CCNet publishes *both* sides in the numerous climate change debates. While I don’t claim that CCNet attempts to play the role of an honest brocker, I always provide space for all key protagonists and important arguments in the countless controversies. Obviously, I am not able to spot all significant pieces of research or contributions – also because of my personal bias. However, feel free to notify me of any paper you think I have overlooked and I promise it will be posted without hesitation.


  5. Well, Benny, to be as charitable as possible that means you fell for the Junk (non)Scientist’s spin. I’ve seen him do this in a number of articles, more recently in a piece he did (,2933,177380,00.html) on the Esper et al article paper relating to climate sensitivity. Also, notice that the China peat article has been around for several months and had made no splash whatsoever aside from with the Junk (non)Scientist. Papers that really do upset the “consensus,” even in minor ways such as with the new Nature paper on methane, tend to get a lot of immediate press.

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