In his web log of 30th October 2009, Richard Black issues a challenge :-
Magnetic attraction of climate ‘scepticism’
Friday, 30 October 2009
There’s been interest on this blog and elsewhere about a meeting organised on Wednesday by Piers Corbyn, the independent UK weather forecaster who argues that the sources of modern-day climate change lie in magnetic interactions around the Earth rather than greenhouse gas emissions on it.
So – a genie to your Aladdin, though emphatically not all-powerful – I thought I’d go along.
Held at Imperial College London – Mr Corbyn’s alma mater – the meeting featured presentations from Northern Ireland’s famously “climate-sceptical” environment minister Sammy Wilson, botanist and ex-BBC TV nature presenter David Bellamy, and a handful of academics – as well as from Mr Corbyn himself.
(The meeting wasn’t endorsed or sponsored by Imperial – I’m sure they’d want me to point that out.)
If you’re a practising scientist reading this and are wondering “why did he bother?”, by the way, read on… I’ve an assignment for you at the end.
…Did the meeting live up to its billing of “refuting, totally, the CO2 theory of warming”?
Hardly. Because doing that seriously doesn’t mean refuting it to my satisfaction, or yours, or that of the audience scattered about the Imperial College lecture theatre on Wednesday; it means convincing the greater community of climate scientists, and that brings us back to… publishing.
What some in the sceptical camp do not appear to appreciate is that published, peer-reviewed science is not only the sole way of establishing and improving theories; it’s also, now, the only route to the policymakers they want to influence.
Modern-day ministers and their scientifically-qualified advisers are absolutely not going to listen to half-developed, unpublished theories or complaints about fraud and conspiracies.
As I noted above, many speakers at the meeting labelled mainstream climate science as “politicised”. And in one sense it is: whenever a scientist steps away from considering what the data tells you is happening to suggesting what political or social actions sensibly flow from the data, it must be partially politicised.
…I asked Mr Corbyn whether dropping hints of a new theory of climate change into the mix shortly before the UN summit in Copenhagen was accidental.
He initial answer was that it was “deliberate”, before clarifying that the date had first been chosen to mark the first anniversary of the third reading of the UK Climate Change Act; but that when it was pointed out that Copenhagen was just around the corner, he and the other organisers had concluded it was “good timing”.
“We are involved in the political debate about climate change,” he told me. “The whole regime is suspect and has to be destroyed.”
If you really wanted to be cynical, you could argue that enough information on the concept has been released to tantalise the palates of those hungry for a non-CO2 theory, but not nearly enough to allow proper scientific scrutiny.
It does generate a climate projection that is very different from the IPCC’s – a “general cooling to 2030 and probably beyond”, with temperatures staying below 2002 levels for perhaps a century.
Unlike a weather forecast duel, I don’t think policymakers will want to wait until then before deciding whether greenhouse emissions need to be tackled.
Now, doubtless many of you will have views on the science and everything else in this post, and I look forward to reading them.
But the responses I would particularly invite are from working scientists – physicists, climatologists, and those in related fields.
At the beginning of this post, I suggested working scientists might like to read to the end – and here’s why.
Piers Corbyn hasn’t given you a scientific paper here but I hope I have relayed the main elements, and you can see his presentation for more details.
So please – have a look around. Some of you know about this stuff – orbital precession, solar cycles, Fourier transforms, magnetic dipoles – far, far better than I do. When you have a free moment or two, don’t turn to Tetris, but have a play with this box of toys.
The datasets Mr Corbyn used are publically available, as is information on cycles of lunar nodes and such like.
Do the numbers and mechanisms stack up? Is the theory plausible? Compelling? Completely nuts? What do you think?
As of now, does it even qualify as a theory?
I’m certainly not qualified to pronounce judgement – but some of you may be.
I look forward to seeing what you come up with… and so, I’m sure, will everyone anxious to make sure that negotiators in Copenhagen are armed only with the best scientific evidence.
I don’t think many people are going to bother to respond to this challenge.
Of the working Climate Change scientists that I know, none of them entertain Mr Corbyn’s theories. They’re not in any way new, and people have already found plenty of reasons not to accept them.
It would be a waste of time to respond to Richard Black’s challenge as the answers are already out there, if Richard Black had bothered to read them up.
Here’s a few links for the information-starved Richard Black :-
Some of the work was started by the year 1995 :-
I think the idea that Corbyn might be promoting as a “new” theory may be related to this link, forwarded to me by a sceptic in my own neighbourhood :-
“The project Astrometria to measure temporary variations of shape and diameter of the Sun – the total solar irradiance, as well as fine structure and dynamics of the granulation on the Service module of the Russian segment of the International Space Station : The main goal of the project: The study of global processes occurring deeply inside the Sun and of consequent variations of physical processes in the system Sun-Earth as well as the study of fine structure and dynamics of active and quiet regions of the photosphere and of their cyclic variations…The increase in greenhouse gases concentration is not the reason of global warming, but on the contrary, the result of the rise of temperature caused by prolonged increase in the TSI [Total Solar Irradiance]. The rise of atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide takes place with a delay (from the moment of global warming). The delay is necessary to heat deep layers of the ocean and to melt virtually all floating icebergs (200–800 years). The ocean is the major storage of carbon dioxide and because the solubility of gases in water decreases with the rise of temperature, heating of the ocean causes the emission of a large volume of gases into the atmosphere. Another source of carbon dioxide emission was found several years ago by the scientists of Eastern department of Russian Academy of Sciences: a large amount of old dead algae frozen inside the icebergs floating in Arctic and near the coast of Antarctica. Being thrown out in the warm water after ice melting, they decompose, being another major source of emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. This proves that the observed increase in atmospheric C02 concentration is mainly the result of natural increase in temperature of the land and ocean. Consequently, the popular statement that the industrial activity of humans plays a major role in global warming has emerged from mixing up the cause and effect or, in the other words, “a locomotive” and “a wagon”. Thus, the observed global warming on the Earth is not caused by human-induced greenhouse gases emission, but mostly by unusually high intensity of the solar radiation during the whole passed century. The coming decrease of global temperature will take place even if the anthropogenic CO2 emission will reach record high levels in the future…”
It contains a number of assertions that cannot possibly be correct. It does not take into account that the magnitude of the measured changes so far indicate that solar change is nowhere near large enough to account for them.
Although it mentions a time lag in the heating of the planet, it only speaks about past episodes where warming caused Carbon Dioxide release (which caused warming). Today, it is Carbon Dioxide that is causing warming.
This pseudo-science report from Russia makes several predictions/projections of reduced global warming anomalies going forwards, which will be easy to refute when the data has actually been gathered.