Peiser Again

In the comments here a while back, Benny Peiser, publisher of the invaluable CCNet electronic newsletter, said this:


As you know, CCNet publishes *both* sides in the numerous climate change debates.

It was with that in mind that I read Benny’s latest CCNet missive: “MORE TROUBLE FOR IPCC AS SCIENTISTS PREDICT SOLAR DOWNTURN & GLOBAL COOLING”. As usual, Benny’s got a bunch of interesting stuff, especially a New Scientist piece on researchers looking at the solar-climate connection. But in his attempt to be thorough and share “*both* sides in the numerous climate change debates,” Benny apparently missed one of the papers that came out this week:

Overall, we can find no evidence for solar luminosity variations of sufficient amplitude to drive significant climate variations on centennial, millennial and even million-year timescales.

Note to Benny: Check out Foukal et al., Variations in solar luminosity and their effect on the Earth’s climate. It’s on the cover of this week’s Nature.


  1. John

    While I take your point, I feel you missed the gist of the New Scientist piece and the report of the Russian Academy of Science. They are not about whether or not solar varibility is driving global warming. They simply report concerns (which, by the way, are not mine) raised by an apparently growing number of solar physicists about a predicted downturn in solar activity and its possible cooling effect (Title cover: “Global Warming: Will the sun come to our rescue?”).

    These are two entirely different issues, as the NS makes perfectly clear:

    “None of this means that we can stop worrying about global warming caused by emissions into the atmosphere. “The temperature of the Earth in the past few decades does not correlate with solar activity at all,” Solanki says. He estimates that solar activity is responsible for only 30 per cent, at most, of the warming since 1970. The rest must be the result of man-made greenhouse gases, and a crash in solar activity won’t do anything to get rid of them.”

    The key issue I was highlighting is this: how do you reconcile the predictions of eminent, mainstream scientists (who are seriously contemplating climatic downturn in the next 50 years) with the IPCC “consensus?”

  2. Benny –

    Thanks for the comment. As I said, I found the citations in your post interesting, as always. I merely question your claim to balance (“*both* sides”) in CCNet when you repeatedly quote with apparent enthusiasm a subset of the research while downplaying or, as in this case, ignoring completely other noteworthy work.

  3. John

    I’ve never claimed to be an ‘honest broker’ in the climate change debates, although I am always trying to be a fair and even-handed editor. I have freely admitted my personal biases which are reflected in the way CCNet is edited. That, however, has never hindered me from covering *both sides* of many of the countless controversies. I sometimes wish interested observers were as critical of the mainstream media’s coverage of the climate change debates when it comes to almost habitual lack of balance.

    Anyway, this is just to say that – despite the claims by Foukal et al. in their latest paper and the predictable media hype – the actual contribution of solar activity regarding the current period of global warming is far from certain. According to a new paper by Scafetta and West in Geophys. Res. Lett., 33 (,
    “the sun might have contributed approximately 50% of the observed global warming since 1900.”

    *If* that were true, this result would present serious trouble for the IPCC. As far as I am concerned, I remain open-minded regarding these conflicting findings. Shouldn’t we all? But the again, the debate on AGW has been settled once and for all, hasn’t it?

  4. Benny –

    Thanks. I’d agree that it’s unfortunate that the media covers (and Nature amplifies) results like the Foukal paper while the Scafetta paper languishes in such relative obscurity. But I would not agree that the Scafetta paper “would present serious trouble for the IPCC.” First, the TAR has a lengthy discussion of the solar contribution. Second, the Scafetta paper looks to my lay eyes like a valuable contribution to the continued effort to disentangle solar variability from the anthropogenic contribution. Their criticism of the way models treat the effects of solar variability seems reasonable. But their figure 2 seems entirely consistent with the central IPCC-style argument that 20th century warming can’t be explained by natural forcings: “Note the good correspondence of the patterns in particular during the pre-industrial era (1600–1900) and the significant discrepancy occurring in the
    20th century with a clear surplus warming.”

    (It’s also worth noting as an aside that the CO2Science piece you quoted back in June on Scafetta and West neglected that critical piece of the paper, another example of many on my list of why I find their work less than helpful.)

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