Apr 232008

I heard about this Op-Ed in today’s Oz on PM this evening.

Initially, I thought, “Well, just another climate change denialist”, but resolved to look up the article when I arrived home. I’m glad I remembered, because this opinion piece – and that’s all it is – makes the likes of Blair & Bolt look positively intellectual when it comes to the climate change issue.
This Phil Chapman – an astronaut, apparently, although how that qualifies him as a climate scientist escapes me – makes the most extraordinary statements:

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that 2007 was exceptionally cold. It snowed in Baghdad for the first time in centuries, the winter in China was simply terrible and the extent of Antarctic sea ice in the austral winter was the greatest on record since James Cook discovered the place in 1770.
It is generally not possible to draw conclusions about climatic trends from events in a single year, so I would normally dismiss this cold snap as transient, pending what happens in the next few years.

Anecdotal evidence, and he’d normally not draw conclusions from it……BUT! It’s all down to a lack of appropriately prompt sunspots. The latest cycle is underway, and bugger me, but there’s not a lot of activity. Yet. No mention at all by Phil of any historical evidence from the past 23 cycles in which the start of a cycle might have been quieter than those before it. No linkage through empirical data to the contrary either. In fact, no facts! Just an opinion, based on some random musings. Phil also claims to be a geophysicist. He surely doesn’t express his opinions like one. He’s also expressing his opinions from a position of professional ignorance. I’d have thought studies of solar sunspot cycles would be the premise of an astrophysicist.
In short, the man knows no more about sunspot cycles as an instigator for the next ice age than I do. He’d have been much better off watching a doco on SBS last Sunday entitled ‘Gulfstream and the Next Ice Age’. He might not have made such a fool of himself spruiking unintelligently about sunspots leading to all of us freezing to death. Thermohaline disruption as a direct result of climate change has a far greater chance of bringing on the next ice age, than a late sunspot cycle. Clearly Phil doesn’t watch a lot of tele, because this same doco was on twelve months ago. I saw it then, as well as last Sunday. It still makes more sense than Phil’s sunspots.