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Climate Crisis Denier’s Dirty Tricks In The Name Of Sun God

By Countercurrents.org

16 December, 2012

Climate crisis deniers are keeping on dirty tricks alive. Very-recently a denier distorted UN climate science panel's AR5 report and claimed the sun is causing global warming. But the dishonesty got exposed within a very short time. The incident should be referred as wide as possible to keep people updated and them aware of the deniers’ dirty hands. The dirty trick is a part being played by a section of capital bent on making profit at the cost of people’s sufferings.

Dana Nuccitelli for Skeptical Science, part of the Guardian Environment Network, wrote in a report[1]:

Alec Rawls, an occasional guest poster on the climate contrarian blog WattsUpWithThat who signed up to review the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (as anyone can), has "leaked" a draft version of the report and declared that it "contains game-changing admission of enhanced solar forcing." This assertion was then repeated by James Delingpole at The Telegraph (with some added colorful language), and probably on many other climate contrarian blogs.

If the IPCC were to report that the sun is a significant player in the current rapid global warming that would indeed be major news, because the body of peer-reviewed scientific literature and data clearly show that the sun has made little if any contribution to the observed global warming over the past 50+ years.

So why would the latest IPCC report contradict these studies when its purpose is to summarize the latest and greatest scientific research? The answer is simple — it doesn't. Rawls has completely misrepresented the IPCC report. [Emphasis by Countercurrents]

The supposedly "game-changing admission" from the IPCC report is this:

"Many empirical relationships have been reported between GCR [galactic cosmic rays] or cosmogenic isotope archives and some aspects of the climate system...The forcing from changes in total solar irradiance alone does not seem to account for these observations, implying the existence of an amplifying mechanism such as the hypothesized GCR-cloud link."

This statement refers to a hypothesis of Henrik Svensmark from the Danish National Space Institute, who has proposed that galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) could exert significant influence over global temperatures. The GCR hypothesis suggests that when they reach Earth, GCRs (high-energy charged particles originating from somewhere in our galaxy) are capable of "seeding" clouds; thus at times when a lot of GCRs are reaching the Earth's surface, more clouds will form. Clouds generally have a cooling effect on the Earth's temperature, because they reflect sunlight.

So the hypothesis goes like this: high solar activity means a strong solar magnetic field, which deflects more GCRs away from Earth, which means less cloud formation, which means less sunlight is reflected away from Earth, which means more warming. This GCR-caused warming would amplify the warming already being caused by increased solar activity. Conversely, cooling from decreased solar activity would hypothetically be amplified by more GCRs on Earth, more clouds, more reflected sunlight, and thus more cooling.

It's important to note that so far virtually all scientific research on GCRs has shown that they are not effective at seeding clouds and thus have very little influence over the Earth's temperature. In fact, as Zeke Hausfather has noted, the leaked IPCC report specifically states this:

"...there is medium evidence and high agreement that the cosmic ray-ionization mechanism is too weak to influence global concentrations of [cloud condensation nuclei] or their change over the last century or during a solar cycle in any climatically significant way."

But more importantly in this context, even if GCRs did influence global temperature, they would currently be having a cooling effect.

Rawls also provides the following quote from the IPCC report:
"There is very high confidence that natural forcing is a small fraction of the anthropogenic forcing. In particular, over the past three decades (since 1980), robust evidence from satellite observations of the TSI [total solar irradiance] and volcanic aerosols demonstrate a near-zero (–0.04 W m–2) change in the natural forcing compared to the anthropogenic AF increase of ~1.0 ± 0.3 W m–2."

The term "radiative forcing" refers to a global energy imbalance on Earth, which may be caused by various effects like changes in the greenhouse effect or solar activity. A positive forcing will result in warming temperatures, while a negative forcing will result in cooling.

Here the IPCC is saying that since 1980, the sun and volcanoes have combined to cause a slightly negative global energy imbalance, which means they have had a slight cooling influence on global temperatures over the past three decades. Indeed, solar activity has decreased a bit over that timeframe.

As we would expect, lower solar activity including a weaker solar magnetic field has translated into a slight increase in GCR flux on Earth.

So, if GCRs really do amplify the solar influence on global temperatures, since 1980 they are amplifying a cooling effect. In fact, GCRs reaching Earth recently hit record high levels, yet temperatures are still way up.

Rawls has argued to the contrary by claiming that the climate is still responding to the increase in solar activity from the early 20th century, and that GCRs are amplifying that solar warming from over 60 years ago. This argument is simply physically wrong.

On top of that, the hypothetical GCR process is a relatively rapid one. Cloud formation from GCR seeding should occur within days, and clouds have very short lifetimes. For GCRs to have a warming effect, solar activity must be increasing right now. It is not, in fact solar activity has been essentially flat and slightly declining in recent decades. Changes in solar activity from 60+ years ago have no bearing whatsoever on GCRs today.

To sum up,
The leaked IPCC report states that there may be some connection between GCRs and some aspects of the climate system.

However, the report is also consistent with the body of scientific literature in stating that research indicates GCRs are not effective at seeding clouds and have very little influence on global temperatures.

Solar activity has been nearly flat and slightly decreasing in recent decades, meaning that if GCRs do amplify solar influences on climate, they are amplifying a cooling effect.

The body of peer-reviewed scientific literature is very clear: human greenhouse gas emissions, not solar activity or galactic cosmic rays, are causing global warming. The leaked IPCC report is entirely consistent with this conclusion. In fact, in attempting to argue to the contrary, Rawls has scored an own goal by showing that if anything, GCRs are currently amplifying a solar cooling effect.

Another report said[2]:

A draft version of a forthcoming international assessment of climate change science, leaked by an obscure conservative blogger, is being touted by climate skeptics as evidence that the burning of fossil fuels by human society is not the leading cause of planetary warming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body responsible for preparing the report, quickly acknowledged the leak, and prominent climate scientists, including several who have contributed to the intermittent assessments, dismissed the skeptics' assertion as a facile and misguided reading of the voluminous analysis, which was scheduled for release next year.

But the leak has also raised fresh questions about the IPCC's own assessment protocols, and whether the drafting process should be carried out in a more open fashion -- particularly in the age of the Internet.

"It is not an IPCC report until the end, when it is approved. Anything prior to that is a working paper draft," said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and a lead author of previous IPCC assessments in 1995, 2001 and 2007. "The IPCC has expanded the number of people involved in each report -- it is hardly a secret. Any reviewer can sign up to get access to it all -- although they sign a pledge not to do what has been done here. So this person is not only dishonorable, he should be thoroughly castigated."

In a statement issued on December 14, 2012 morning, the IPCC acknowledged that material appearing to be the draft of its report has been published online. The "unauthorized and premature" posting of the documents "may lead to confusion because the text will necessarily change in some respects once all the review comments have been addressed," the organization said, adding, "This is why the IPCC drafts are not made public before the final document is approved."

The materials were posted by Alec Rawls, a former economics student at Stanford and an aspiring sheriff of Santa Clara County, Calif. Rawls is also an occasional contributor to climate contrarian blogs and the son of the late liberal philosopher John Rawls.

Rawls did not immediately respond to a request for comment on December 14, 2012 morning.

Dismissals of Rawls' reading of the material, however, were swift and withering. "Based on the totality of the scientific literature as I know it, the story is bunk," said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University and one of many authors of the draft assessment.

Michael Mann, a climatologist and the director of Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, elaborated in an email message to HuffPost:

There is nothing in the new IPCC report about solar forcing that isn't already well known from the peer-reviewed literature. I myself have published work in the journal Science just a few years ago on the importance of solar forcing for understanding long-term natural variability. Despite what climate change deniers would like people to think, paleoclimate scientists such as myself have thoroughly investigated the role of solar impacts on climate for decades...

But my work, and indeed all work that I'm familiar with in this area, shows that solar forcing cannot possibly explain the warming of the past half century. In fact, solar forcing has been flat over the past fifty years during which we've seen the greatest amount of warming. There is NOTHING in the new IPCC report that in any way calls that conclusion into question.

So what climate change deniers are doing, assisted by a dishonest leaker, is to once again distort what climate scientists have actually had to say about the role of solar forcing to somehow make it sound as if there is some new development here. There isn't. There are only incremental developments in the science, all of which reinforce the conclusion that natural forcing, including solar forcing, cannot explain the warming we have seen over the past century.

Additional refutations of Rawls' reading of the science -- including some with great detail -- began surfacing on December 14, 2012 morning.
But even as the scientific questions were quickly sorted out, the larger question of the IPCC process continued to percolate.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established 25 years ago under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program. Its nominal mission is to "assess -- on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis -- the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation," according to the body's governing principles.

That charter manifests every six or so years in a voluminous report that synthesizes the broad spectrum of climate science and assigns varying degrees of confidence to the understood causes and expected outcomes of a warming planet. The leaked report, due out next year, will be the body's fifth assessment. Its most fundamental findings remain unchanged: Human activities are almost certainly the primary driver behind increases in global average surface temperatures over the last several decades, and that this has, in turn, caused increases in sea levels, reductions in arctic ice, and other climatic changes.

Virtually anyone can sign up to be a reviewer of IPCC drafts -- although the organization requires reviewers to agree not to distribute the drafts, and all pages are marked with the words "Do not cite, quote or distribute."

That veil of secrecy over the drafting process, while diligently defended by the IPCC, has been criticized by stakeholders and observers on all fronts, with many suggesting that such withholding is an anachronism in the age of the Internet -- and one that lends unnecessary fuel to theories of fraud and conspiracy among climate change skeptics.

Writing at DotEarth, climate blogger Andrew Revkin noted that "even as it has been heaped with accolades, including the 2007 Nobel Peace Price, the panel has been criticized from within and without for inconsistency across its three working groups (on basic science, impacts of climate change, and options for mitigating risk), for inadequate procedures for addressing errors and for glacially slow drafting processes that limit the utility and relevance of the process.

"I’d love to think there’s a way for the countries that created the organization," Revkin added, "to come up with the technical and financial support it would need for a fundamental re-boot."
Oppenheimer, the Princeton scientist, did not disagree -- although he added that until the process is overhauled, leaks like this one only confuse things.

"I think the process of developing IPCC assessments should be more open in a number of ways," Oppenheimer said in an email message. "But as long as it is closed, I don’t approve of anyone leaking drafts because, among other reasons, people like me who are involved in the process and feel obliged to follow the rules can’t adequately respond to the ensuing confusion. But it will all come out in the wash in the end."

Trenberth, too, has criticized the bureaucratic nature of the IPCC process, suggesting that it may have outgrown its usefulness. "I do think we should have declared success and moved on after the last report," he said. "There are too many scientists involved who are not leading researchers -- owing to the demands for new people, and geographic, national, and gender equity. A lot of material should be done routinely -- and some is every year, but perhaps could be done better. For scientific issues there should not be a rigid timetable.

"This IPCC process," he added, "is not the way to improve and develop models."

In an email message Friday morning, Dr. R K Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, declined to comment, but the prepared statement from the organization asserted that "the IPCC is committed to an open and transparent process that delivers a robust assessment."


[1] guardian.co.uk, “Global warming is not due to the sun, confirms leaked IPCC report”, Dec. 14, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/14/global-warming-sun-leaked-ipcc-report

[2] “Leaked IPCC Climate Report Excites Skeptics, Annoys Authors And Raises Questions About Process”, Dec. 14, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/leaked-ipcc-report_n_2300558.html?utm_hp_ref=climate-change



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