Is climate change simply caused by the Sun getting hotter? A scientific paper (paywalled) in Nature this week has looked at this question, measuring the connection between solar activity and warming. The conclusion they came to?
Over the three-year study period, the observed variations in the solar spectrum have caused roughly as much warming of Earth’s surface as have increases in carbon dioxide emissions, says [Professor Joanna] Haigh. But because solar activity is cyclic it should have no long-term impact on climate, regardless of whether similar spectral changes have occurred during previous solar cycles.
“If the climate were affected in the long term, the Sun should have produced a notable cooling in the first half of the twentieth century, which we know it didn’t,” she says.
So in other words, the Sun goes through warmer and cooler phases, but the planet keeps warming even during the cool phases. Interestingly, it turns out to be coolest when it’s most active – apparently because an active Sun uses its energy to make ultraviolet light (the type of light that causes suntans and skin cancer) instead of infrared light (the type of light that carries heat). Yet more proof that climate change is real and man-made.
How does The Telegraph spin it?
An increase in solar activity from the Sun actually cools the Earth, suggests new research that will renew the debate over the science behind climate change.
The research overturns traditional assumptions about the relationship between the sun and global warming.
Focused on a three-year snapshot of time between 2004 and 2007, the findings will be seized upon by those who believe that man’s role in rises in the earth’s temperature has been overstated.
Eventually, when you reach the sixth paragraph the article does eventually explain that “long term analysis suggests it actually provides further evidence that the heating of the planet is more than a natural, cyclical phenomenon“, but only after hinting to people that the data in fact says the very opposite – an interpretation that even the article itself eventually admits is false.
Sure enough, it looks like the vast majority of readers who’ve left comments stopped reading before that sixth paragraph. There were 207 comments on the article at the time of writing – of those whose position I could clearly discern, 101 were denialist while just 17 were from people were from people who’d read to the bottom of the article. A good chunk of the denialist comments seem to be arguing that climate scientists are so stupid that they didn’t realise the Sun existed until just now, and some of the rest are from people who’ve been confused by the article not explaining why a stronger sun is cooler, but among them are some real treats:
Climate change treaties is the start of World Government. After all, this is how the EU started .
A classic example of girly science.
You cant possibly agree with this,its against Marxist New Labour,Green,we hate mankind,and all the rest of those highly esteemed organisations who have spent our money proving we are to blame,you know,evil mankind!
And the most popular comment, with a +99 recommendation rating?
I think Global Warming shit should be really stopped right now. It’s SO annoying to see those politician telling me what to do and what not to do
Of course that doesn’t mean that everyone who read the article came out of it disbelieving in climate change – after all, denialists are more likely to have something to say on the subject than people who believe in climate change – but it’s still depressing. I’m just waiting for the inevitable Delingpole article now; I wonder whether it’ll turn out this study was carried out by the Bilderberg group or the Illuminati.