Quick, Check the Thermostat

Al Gore says that current global temperatures are the highest they have been in 1000 years.  A new study by the Institute of Astronomy in Zurich says that the "sun is more active now than it has been at anytime in the previous 1,000 years."  Related? 

Sunspots have been monitored on the Sun since 1610,
shortly after the invention of the telescope. They provide the
longest-running direct measurement of our star's activity.

The variation in sunspot numbers has revealed the Sun's 11-year cycle of activity as well as other, longer-term changes.

In particular, it has been noted that between about 1645 and 1715, few sunspots were seen on the Sun's surface.

This period is called the Maunder Minimum after the English astronomer who studied it.

It coincided with a spell of prolonged cold weather
often referred to as the "Little Ice Age". Solar scientists strongly
suspect there is a link between the two events - but the exact
mechanism remains elusive....

But the most striking feature, he says, is that
looking at the past 1,150 years the Sun has never been as active as it
has been during the past 60 years.

Over the past few hundred years, there has been a steady
increase in the numbers of sunspots, a trend that has accelerated in
the past century, just at the time when the Earth has been getting
warmer.

The data suggests that changing solar activity is influencing in some way the global climate causing the world to get warmer.

Of course, these poor scientists know that they could lose their jobs and be called Holocaust deniers if they don't acknowledge anthropomorphic global warming, so they do say:

Over the past 20 years, however, the number of
sunspots has remained roughly constant, yet the average temperature of
the Earth has continued to increase.

This is put down to a human-produced greenhouse effect caused by the combustion of fossil fuels.             (HT:  TJIC)

Which may actually be the case, but it is interesting that astronomers feel the need to say this without any evidence of such in their own study just to protect themselves from ostracism by the climate religionists.

However, even if the two are working in concert, the fact that solar activity explains some of the 20th century warming means that current climate models are WAY overestimating the impact of anthropomorphic warming. 

For example, the climate models in the current 2007 IPCC report assume that the world would have experienced no warming in the 20th century without man.  This is from Section 8, actual is the black line, the models without man are in blue, the models with man are in red:

Ipcc1

In other words, the IPCC models completely ignore the increasing solar activity and assume 100% of 20th century warming was due to man-made effects, even the substantial warming before 1940 (and before the onset of truly heavy world-wide fossil fuel use).

Already, the models used by the IPCC tend to overestimate past warming even if all past warming is attributable to anthropomorphic causes.  If anthropomorphic effects explain only a fraction of past warming, then the current models are vastly overstated, good for stampeding the populous into otherwise unpopular political control over the economy, but of diminished scientific value.

Postscript: I cannot prove this, but I am willing to make a bet based on my long, long history of modeling (computers, not fashion).  My guess is that the blue band, representing climate without man-made effects, was not based on any real science but was instead a plug.  In other words, they took their models and actual temperatures and then said "what would the climate without man have to look like for our models to be correct."  There are at least four reasons I strongly suspect this to be true:

  1. Every computer modeler in history has tried this trick to make their models of the future seem more credible.  I don't think the climate guys are immune.
  2. There is no way their models, with our current state of knowledge about the climate, match reality that well. 
  3. The first time they ran their models vs. history, they did not match at all.  This current close match is the result of a bunch of tweaking that has little impact on the model's predictive ability but forces it to match history better.  For example, early runs had the forecast run right up from the 1940 peak to temperatures way above what we see today.
  4. The blue line totally ignores any of our other understandings about the changing climate, including the changing intensity of the sun.  It is conveniently exactly what is necessary to make the pink line match history.  In fact, against all evidence, note the blue band falls over the century.  This is because the models were pushing the temperature up faster than we have seen it rise historically, so the modelers needed a negative plug to make the numbers look nice.
  • Kris

    Don't you see Coyote? The effects of burning fossil fuels are worse than we ever imagined. We are making the sun hotter! I can't imagine the feedback loop this will create.

  • happyjuggler0

    Semi on topic is this interview with Freeman Dyson

  • http://www.captainscomments.com Captain Midnight

    When I talk with people firmly entrenched in the anthropomorphic global warming camp, I ask them to name the number one cause of global warming. So far no one has answered "the sun," and when I explain that is the correct answer, they inevitable get angry.

    And when I showed them that same website about the active sun, they dismissed it. An active sun just doesn't fit their idea of evil people-made CO2 causing global warming.

    And speaking of questions, no one has correctly identified water vapor as being the number one greenhouse gas.

  • http://www.joshourisman.com Josh

    While I am increasingly of the opinion that humans are not the source of global warming, and the solar explanation does seem to be a good one, I am still left to wonder if perhaps that's an even better motivation for reducing our emissions and doing what we can to lower the concentrations of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

    The way I see it, there's really no doubt that global warming could potentially have disastrous consequences for humanity (_could_ not _will_). In a worst case scenario (which is probably not the most likely one) global warming caused by the sun could cause exactly the same problems that people claim global warming caused by humans will have. And it is also certainly true that greenhouse gases exist and that the more of them there are, the warmer our planet will be given a constant input of solar radiation. Giving an increasing input of solar radiation (which, it appears, we are currently getting), the prudent thing to do if we want to preserve the current climate patterns and avoid potentially losing out current crop lands (in my opinion the biggest problem that could potentially be caused by global warming) would seem to be to do whatever we can to reduce the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to allow more of the increased solar radiation our planet is/will be receiving to escape into space and not warm our planet.

    It would be rather ironic if the global warming crowd was proved wrong about anthropogenic global warming, but the disasters they foretold still occurred. Just because it may not be our fault, doesn't mean it won't be our problem if it happens. Of course, if it's the sun to blame and not us, their predictions for future warming are going to be completely off (unless they know that we aren't the ones causing it and are just using the whole anthropogenic thing as a ruse to motivate people to do what they want, which I wouldn't completely rule out).

  • eddie

    On a somewhat related note concerning modeling: see Menzie Chinn's comments on a new IMF report. Chinn is a New Keynesian and believes that the government needs to intervene in the currency market to push the dollar down in order to "fix" the trade balance. The IMF report suggests that the dollar will have to fall less than previously thought in order to do that. The revised estimate is due to an "improved" econometric model.

    Keynesians are just like global warming researchers. The effects that they study are the result of innumerable interactions in complex and chaotic systems, which they analyze by building models which are necessarily incomplete and speculative. In order to get their models to fit the data, they tweak arbitrary parameters. They then use the predictive results from their model to support policy decisions which invariably require a paternalistic, benevolent, omniscient, and near-omnipotent government to intervene and "fix" things - for our own good.

    You should write a post about econometrics sometime. I'm sure with your experience in business and business school you could rip it to shreds.