The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 7 in a series

The way I got around to this book was another book I was reviewing by writer Stephen Moore and would-be political appointee Kathleen Hartnett White, titled Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy. That book makes a couple of references to another book: The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe by Sebastian Luning and Fritz Vahrenholt, and I purchased the Kindle edition to follow up. My original intent was to read the book and post a thorough diagnosis. After some reading I decided, “No way.” I will explain why.

Published by The Heartland Institute 3939 North Wilke Road Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004 phone 312/ 377-4000 fax 312/ 377-5000 www.heartland.org [link added]

That shows up on page 2, and it’s drop-dead indication this is not going to be a scientific treatment of the subject.

I forgot all about Heartland Institute. Yes I did. The last time I paid them any attention was back in 2012. What I stated then was that Heartland Institute appears to use money rather than actual science to counter inconvenient facts of science.

Yes, we have been down that road before. However, it is worth some examination to determine whether Luning and Vahrenholt (Heartland) have anything new to add to the discussion. Here’s what I was able to glean. Despite the title, the book does not appear to be about the neglected sun and why the sun precludes climate catastrophe. The book appears to be more an argument for avoiding “carbon-neutral” energy sources, a prime Heartland agenda. Before getting into several chapters discussing the sun, the book reveals its heart with a few paragraphs in the preface.

In 2011 Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would implement the Energiewende (energy turnaround) in an attempt to replace nuclear and fossil fuel power plants with renewable sources. At the same time, she promised that Germany would no longer need to import electricit y and that electricit y prices would not go up. Within less than a year this grand declaration proved to be little more than wishful thinking. 1 Today electricit y prices in Germany are soaring out of control due to unlimited subsidies given to renewable power, and the German power supply can be secured only through emergency decrees. Power companies also have to keep unprofitable power plants on standby and large power consumers may find their supply cut off in the event of unexpected supply bottlenecks. Within less than a year, Germany has gone from having a power supply that was one of the world’s most stable to one that is on the brink of collapse.

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 43-49). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Yes, carbon-neutral sources are a bane on modern society, and the book is going to explain why anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is of no concern, even a hoax. The arguments are many, and after much reading you may begin to wonder: if these arguments are of any worth, why are there so many of them crowded into this book? If the the sun precludes climate catastrophe, then a single scientific finding should suffice, and the argument could have been put to  death in a few pages. From all appearances—I’m pulling from several excerpts—there is not a lot of sound science behind the sun argument, and those remaining arguments the authors do push are off-base and generally are not relevant to the case. Before I get into some of the arguments laid to the sun, let’s examine a few that make absolutely no sense in this discussion. Here’s one.

Scientists find themselves in a quandary. How are they to deal with the politically incorrect scientific results? Two American researchers, Jackson Davis and Peter Taylor, recently came across something astonishing. While studying an Antarctic ice core covering the past 12,000 years, they identified a total of forty-six strong natural warming events throughout the pre-industrial era. The mean warming rate of these events was approximately 1.2 ° C per century, more than the 0.7 ° C warming we have seen since 1900.

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 101-105). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Assuming the above is correct, what does it have to do with the issue hand? Maybe a restatement of the issue at hand will be helpful. Here is mine:

Human activities are raising atmospheric levels of CO2 to levels not seen in thousands of years, and the expected, also observed, result is a rise in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures at a rate the world economy cannot accommodate.

If the authors want to talk about past disasters, they could bring up catastrophic asteroid impacts classified as extinction-level events. None of these arguments have relevance to the issue at hand. Besides that, the authors’ statement appears to be false.

This plot is labeled “Annual surface temperature compared to the 1981-2010 average from multiple, independent research groups. NOAA Climate.gov graph adapted from Figure 2.1a in State of the Climate in 2016,” and it appears to show about a 1.0° C rise since 1900. To be sure, the authors are citing the work of others, but this does not excuse the inaccuracy. Rather, their choice of references indicates they are picking sources that please them. There is more. The authors criticize what they contend is bias reporting by mainstream media.

Similar problems occur with the media coverage of new scientific climate studies. Interestingly, while new results inconvenient to the IPCC are often ignored, the latest climate scare stories – some paid for by insurance companies with a vested interest – are widely carried by the mainstream media. For example, how many of us have heard that winter temperatures at the Antarctic Ross Sea have significantly cooled over the past 30 years? [7].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 111-114). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

The footnote is to “Sinclair, K. E., N. A. N. Bertler and T. D. van Ommen (2012) Twentieth-century surface temperature trends in the Western Ross Sea, Antarctica: evidence from a high-resolution ice core. Journal of Climate 25 (10), 3629– 36.”

First I will congratulate the authors on missing the irony of this statement. “[P]aid for by insurance companies with a vested interest.” From all appearances, their own reporting has been paid for by an organization with a vested interest in denying AGW. Considering this section’s topic, of what significance is the matter of winter temperatures at the Antarctic Ross Sea to the global temperature average? I am not sure the authors think this is significant, but it is clear they think it will be significant to their readers, the ones they were paid to impress. Here is a bit more along this line.

One might think that a study documenting that temperatures in southern Italy during the Roman Warm Period were slightly higher than they are today would be a worth reporting [9].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 115-116). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

The reference is given in the footnote indicated. Again, a local or regional event is called upon to  put the lie to an observed global trend. Where have we encountered this before? How about here?

Yes, somebody expanded a piece in The Washington Post from nearly 100 years ago to throw as evidence against AGW. Good for them, the authors of this book did not include this as part of their argument.

Turn now to the book’s main theme, the impact of solar activity on global temperatures. The authors saturate the remainder of the book with the solar argument. Here are a few samples:

Geological climate reconstructions exhaustively show that temperatures on earth have followed solar activit y for thousands of years. That is not surprising when we consider that 99.98 per cent of the total energy of the world’s climate comes from the sun. Would it not make sense to suspect that even small changes in solar energy could have huge impacts?

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 577-580). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

I am especially fond of the appeal to logical deduction: “Would it not make sense to suspect that even small changes in solar energy could have huge impacts?”

Similar irradiation maximums occurred 1000 years ago (the Medieval Warm Period) and 2000 years ago (the Roman Warm Period). In both periods, pronounced climate warming took place. The Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period and today’s Modern Optimum (since 1850) are well documented. Between those warm periods the sun’s activit y decreased and this led to distinct cold phases – the Vandal Cold Period and the Little Ice Age.

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 583-586). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Solar magnetic field strength increased enormously, parallel to the increase in solar irradiation over the last 100 years, having more than doubled [133– 134] (Figure 3.8). The solar magnetic field protects the earth from cosmic rays because it forms a protective shield around it. As a result cosmic rays have decreased 9 per cent over 150 years up to 2000, when cosmic ray levels started to increase once again [135].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 1047-1050). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

I find this last bit most interesting. The magnetic field? Cosmic ray flux? Relevance, please. The authors need only a single scientific finding to make their case. If they have it, then they are holding it back and showering their readers with case studies. Figure 3.8 mentioned in the above has the following title:

Figure 3.8 Synchronicity of solar activity, temperature, sea level and Arctic Sea ice cover during the last 400 years. Sources: sunspots [136]; total solar irradiance [39]; visible light [39]; UV [39]; solar magnetic field, [134]; CO2 [51]; temperature (extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere) [109]; sea level [137]; Arctic sea ice cover [138].

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 1050-1053). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

Here is a screen shot from the Kindle edition, computer-enhanced to clarify details:

Here is another plot, not from the book.

This plot shows global warming with respect to solar flux. While solar flux has been more or less constant from 1880 to 2005, the planet’s warming has shown a persistent rise. Where is this graph presented, even in an effort at repudiation? Here is another interesting graphic.

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

Yes, this is what The Heartland Institute is all about, and it bears no resemblance to real science. Juxtaposed to Luning and Vahrenholt’s inferences of media bias and tilted research is the picture of two writers funded at least in part by The Heartland Institute to propagandize against anthropogenic global warming. This is the nature of the case being made against AWG, and it does not get any better than this.

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