From time to time I am forcibly drug into the global warming debate by a conservative family member. Not surprisingly, this person has followed the “Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater” postulate to its logical end and concluded that because Al Gore believes in it, global warming is bullshit.
As part of this ongoing “dialogue” I was recently made aware of the newest theory being floated by the right: that global warming is caused by the cycles of the Sun, not carbon dioxide. The basis for this idea is apparently some corroborative evidence that the past twenty years have seen a marked increase in solar activity. As the theory goes, this increased solar activity is the most logical cause of the Earth’s increasing temperature because like, you know, the Sun is “way mass hot.” Those carbon dioxide atoms you’re always talking about? Well they’re like Al Gore’s dick. Small and inconsequential.
So my conservative family member recently forced me to read a paper by one of the theory’s chief proponents, David Archibald. Like other solar-warming proponents, Archibald believes that the Sun is entering a “less active” stage that will reverse the global warming effects we have seen. He also believes that while carbon dioxide is not the cause of global warming, it is not wholly irrelevant. CO2 levels do warm the atmosphere, he says, just minimally. Massive amounts of the stuff would need to be released to impact the Earth’s temperature in any appreciable way; far more than has presently been released.
(So far, no problem. Sure it sounds a little far-fetched but it’s certainly worth examining. Unfortunately…this is just the beginning).
Archibald goes on to posit that the real danger is not global warming, but global cooling. That the Sun is poised to cool down too much. In fact, Archibald predicts that we we are poised to enter a cooling period so severe it will impact the growing cycle and harm the Planet’s ability to produce sufficient food. This will lead to mass starvations and human horrors. As Archibald states:
We have to be thankful to the anthropogenic global warming proponents for one thing. If it weren’t for them and their voodoo science, climate science wouldn’t have attracted the attention of non-climate scientists, and we would be sleepwalking into the rather disruptive cooling that is coming next decade. We have a few years to prepare for that in terms of agricultural production.
But no need to worry. Because — unlike you do-nothing liberal ninnies — Archibald has a solution! And what exactly is that solution? To increase our consumption of fossil fuels of course!
Stopping coal-fired power generation due to carbon dioxide emissions is exactly wrong in science. The more carbon dioxide you put into the atmosphere, the more you are helping all living things on the planet …
Yup, in order to counteract the climate problem we need to increase our use of fossil fuels, not halt them. Indeed — in stark contrast to those “anthropogenic global warming” “idiot[s]” who believe anything above 350 PPMs of CO2 is dangerous — Archibald states the optimal level is 1,000 PPMs. Anything below that and it’s ice age time.
A Fully Loaded Hummer H4 w/ Optional “Fuzzy Tusk” Package.
In other words:
Fossil fuels don’t cause global warming. (“Dang lib’ruls…”).
The Sun causes global warming. (“It is on fire after all”).
The Sun is about to cool down. (“Yay, I can keep my Hummer!”).
Oops, too cold — here comes the ice. (“Well thank god I bought this Hummer!”).
Don’t worry, we’ll just burn a lot more fossil fuels in order to warm up the planet. (“Yay, I can keep my Hummer again!”).
Dangerous, dumb shit, particularly when it’s taken as gospel and not subject to scrutiny. Which is what is happening today. Indeed — despite the fact that most scientists find the theory wanting — no less an influential figure then Steve Forbes wrote in his most recent blog post:
Astonishingly, a growing body of research has found that changes in sunspot activity directly correlate with temperature changes on Earth. Solar cycles usually fluctuate every 11 years. Alas, sunspot activity has been rather quiet recently. If it doesn’t pick up in a couple of years we could be in for a long-term cooling the likes of which has not been experienced since the so-called Little Ice Age more than 300 years ago…
So who is this David Archibald? Well unlike Teve Torbes and friends, I decided to do a little research. Here’s what I found:
Credentials. Archibald has no expert credentials. Although he does not publish his curriculum vitae, I managed to dig up his bio on the International Conference on Climate Change website. They describe him as a cancer researcher, climatologist, and “oil explorer.” Yup, he’s a wildcatter.
Peer Review. The only Journal to publish any of his papers is “Energy and Environment.” This sounds like a legitimate publication but it is not widely accepted or acknowledged as a scientific journal. In fact, the Institute for Scientific Information’s (ISI) Annual Journal of peer-reviewed scientific publications refuses to include this publication. (By the way, ISI is neither partisan nor academic-dominated. In fact, it is an arm of Thomson-West, the company that publishes Westlaw and nearly every State and Federal reports of published legal decisions).
Backing. Archibald’s primary backing comes from the Heartland Institute. They are not really…what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yes, objective. Indeed, their primary contributors over the past ten years were ExxonMobil and tobacco companies. Which maybe just might explain why two of the pet issues are refuting climate change theories and “enforcing smoker’s rights.”
General Errors. As pointed out elsewhere, his report includes so many errors and typographic issues that it clearly was not subjected to peer review. Peer review could have been done by others who agreed with him or even a competent editor, not necessarily others in the field (with whom he would presumably disagree). But, like Shaq’s biological father, Archie didn’t bother. Wonder why?
Data Issues. The scientific basis of the report is beyond me. Thankfully other more intelligent folk have taken a stab at it. I found this critique to be particularly interesting.
“To determine a temperature baseline for predicting response to solar cycles 24 and 25 (we’re currently in 23), Archibald takes a startling approach. Instead of using world-wide temperature data, only data from the US mainland is used. Additionally, Archibald decided that only data from rural meteorological stations should be used to avoid the urban heat island effect. Fair enough, you may say. But the catch is, he chose just 5 stations out of the hundreds and hundreds available! Not only did he only choose 5, all 5 were within several hundred miles of each other in South Eastern USA!
The possibility of these stations being representative of anything other than the small local region they covered is non-existent.
There must be something special about the chosen five. And there sure is – they show lower temperatures in the latter half of the 20th century compared to the first half. This actually forms one of the major conclusions of the paper!The conclusion is that for the current and recent temperature record for all of North America:
The profile indicates that temperatures remain below the average over the first half of the twentieth century.
What Archibald forgets to mention is that most met. stations across the US and indeed most of the world show that it is warmer in the latter half of the 20th century than the first. This trend is evident in non-heat island affected rural stations, as well as urban stations.
Misapplication of the Model. The guy who developed the model Archibald relies upon — Professor David Archer — came out and stated that Archibald misused it. He even published an article about Mr. Archibald’s malfeasance. He didn’t go for subtlety here. He called it: “My Model, Used for Deception.”
In short, this guy has major credibility issues. His science is suspect, his theories are unfounded, and his numbers are bunk. Nevertheless, he serves his role. He allows the denial to continue. He prevents a “consensus.” And he forestalls the inevitable day they will be forced to concede Gore just might be right.