Truth or Consequences

Paul Hudson has written a blog piece for the BBC in which he claims


For as long as I have been a meteorologist, the mere suggestion that solar activity could influence climate patterns has been greeted with near derision.

This claim is just plain false. Absolutely, positively, totally, utterly false.

It’s also ironic, since his article is supposed to be about new research on the influence of the sun on climate, from the U.K. Met office no less! But Paul Hudson uses it as an excuse to push an agenda using falsehoods. Does Paul Hudson really not know how false he is? Did he not bother to check his “facts”?

Perhaps one of the reasons that the fake skeptics are so persuasive to so may people is that they can get away with saying anything at all, no matter whether it has even the tiniest grain of truth in it, and they don’t have to suffer the consequences.

Unfortunately, they contribute to delaying action on global warming, so the rest of us do have to suffer the conseqeuences.

30 responses to “Truth or Consequences

  1. It’s a classic anti-science position: Claim that new research decreases rather than increases our confidence both in existing explanations and the usefulness of science itself.

    See for example the anti-evolution camp which will take any finding of the form “New research suggests X happened 20,000 years ago instead of 15,000 years ago” as evidence the original finding was “wrong” and since science keeps getting proved “wrong” (by other scientists) you just can’t trust it, unlike their proposition which is reliable and never changes no matter how much evidence is brought to bear against it.

    Climate science is simultaneously attacked both for ignoring the role of the Sun in climate and for regarding late 20th century warming as exceptional despite similarities in trends to early 20th century. That science explains the early warming as being caused primarily by solar variation (as well as other well known historical changes) seems to not matter.

    As ever people opposed to science are hoping for a “silver bullet” – a simple argument that will kill it without a need to resort to research or evidence. “They said the sun can’t change climate and now new research shows it can change climate” is just one more attempt to argue in favour of ignoring reality by ignoring reality.

  2. Hmm, seen this meme doing the rounds: starting here, linking to an article in the Express (who only ever do stories on weather or Princess Diana or some combination of the two). Also, the GWPF and David Whitehouse misrepresenting the met office research in question. They seem to have missed this bit: “Compared with the effect of man-made emissions over the last century, solar variations still have a very minor effect on long-term global climate trends, but this study shows they may have a detectable influence on winter climate.”

    It’s that old “problem has many factors that need accounting for and balancing correctly” shocker again.

  3. He should have at least checked Google Scholar before writing. Would have saved some embarrassment. The research is useful but the blog article wasn’t.

    (I thought the BBC was into truth these days. How did that article slip through the cracks?)

    • It slipped through the cracks because Hudson is a BBC weather “presenter”. This kind of crock is not new for him:
      http://capitalclimate.blogspot.com/2009/10/whats-up-with-tv-weathercasters.html

    • The BBC, I suspect, gets a huge amount of pressure to provide ‘balance’ (2 2=4, let’s have both sides). So I suspect that the deluge of complaints at every bit of honest climate reporting has an effect. Hence Paul Hudson.

    • I agree with andrew here.

      I’m a regular listener to the One Planet BBC podcast, among others. It’s usually quite good, but when it comes to climate chage, they feel the need of “balance”. Al Gore’s power point presentation is “controversial”. In his interview, Lindzen gets away with handwaving the IPCC report as full of “vested interests”, and saying that all sensititivity studies that show more temperature rise than his are based on models, unlike his own.

      I wonder why they don’t feel the need of “balance” when they talk about the man on the moon or HIV. Maybe that’s because they know that giving equal space for loonies with conspiracy theories is not “balance”, but sheer DISinformation…

  4. Not to worry – Sparticusisfree the Engineer is planning to uncover the incorrect science/scam (see comments – Paul Briscoe is doing some heavy lifting on behalf of the science).

    • Kudos to quake too.

    • Lovely…
      Another climate engineer :P

    • spartacusisfree

      Spartacusisfree the engineer has duly noted PB’s comments and has replied. SIF is also a professional iconoclast whose 40 years’ running research projects including some very big ones has taken on other tasks of this nature!

      Can you knock down my 4 principle objections?

      [1. the ice age amplification of TSI change starts 2ky before [CO2] rises,
      2. ‘back radiation’ as a heat source is an elementary mistake in physics, admittedly made easier by the non standard use of ‘forcings’ instead gradients and impedances.
      3. the aerosol optical physics used in the models breaks down when you get thicker clouds with much higher droplet size range.
      4. the use of 33K to calibrate everything is plain wrong because it combines the real GHG warming [net of convection[ and lapse rate.]

      Best of luck mate!

      [Response: You are a crackpot. Furthermore, I don’t see any hope that you’re amenable to reason. So: take it somewhere else.]

  5. If everyone derides the mere suggestion of a solar influence, then who has been doing (and funding) the solar research for all these decades?

    Once again, logic and proportion fall sloppy dead.

  6. What would deniers do without the passive voice?

  7. I think he may be being just a bit clumsy, in that he’s mainly talking about regional climatology – and it’s quite possible that the prevailing opinion has been that solar changes don’t have regional affects as the output is global in effect (though even there I’m sure I’ve seen discussions about solar output and regional climate).

    His main discussion is about European winters, and when he finally gets onto global temps he says:

    “If so, not only will cold European winters become more common, but global temperatures could fall, too, although the general consensus amongst most scientists at the moment is that any solar-forced decline would be dwarfed by man-made global warming.”

    He has stated that he firmly believes that climate change is happening (see the 3rd & 4th external links at the bottom of his wikipedia page: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Paul_Hudson )

    He is also a decent meteorologist but not really a great climatologist (he’s knowledgeable about the empirical side of things, but seems to fall down when discussing contemporary research.

    That said, his poor wording does have consequences, and just reading the almost complete intelligence vacuum that is the comment thread there, shows that.

  8. In fact, the responses of climate to very modest changes in solar insolation received at the surface have been dramatic, the Little Ice Age (Maunder minimum plus volcanic aerosols), the glacial-interglacial cycle (Milankovic cycles), and the ‘Pliocene Paradox’ (less ice, lowered albedo), and are widely recognized and reported in peer-reviewed literature. These responses suggest a climate with a high sensitivity to climate forcings, including solar. Unfortunately for explaining the last 60 years of global temperature change, we have been measuring the changes in solar insolation, and they are inadequate to explain the observed warming, as temperatures have increased while solar insolation, measured both at the top of atmosphere and the surface, has decreased. Simple physics says that solar insolation influences average global temperature, but also suggests that variations in solar energy are not the principal cause of the rise in global temperatures of the past few decades. The mainstream media seems not to have either the interest or the knowledge to recognize howlers such as this, so they go largely unchallenged in the public’s view.

  9. The comments to that piece are even worse than those at WUWT!

    Tamino, serious headvise warning needed.

  10. I’d just like to clarify one or two points regarding this article from Paul Hudson – I post there quite regularly.

    I don’t think Paul is trying to push any agenda here, as my own searches suggest that he actually accepts the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming. He did also point out, further down, that the latest paper only relates to regional redistribution of heat and has little effect on global temperatures.

    As noted by Deech56, I have pointed out that he is wrong to suggest that most scientists are effectively in denial regarding solar influences. I can only presume that his comments are based on his experience when he worked for the Met Office and I suppose that the Met Office might have had an unofficial policy of not talking about solar effects in case some elements misconstrued it!

    Predictably, though, many HAVE miscontrued Paul’s comments, so if anyone cares to join me in correcting peoples’ misconceptions, I would be happy to have your support!

    Paul

    • So his pattern appears to be:

      Throw out the zinger to set the tone in the first line to draw attention away from the fact that the paper clearly states (link to abstract conspicuous in its absence; see Dave X’s post below) that it only applies to regional climate and does not have global climate implications. Then throw out another vague comment in the last line: “As one leading climate scientist told me last month, it’s a subject that is now no longer taboo. And about time, too.” With its obvious sinister implications.

      If Paul Hudson did not intend to mislead, he could certainly clarify things with a few words in his comment section.

      Thanks for your diligence Paul Briscoe. You are much more tactful than I could be.

    • I’m afraid I don’t see the point in being polite to a lying sack of rat feces.

      • Ray, yesbut the point is not about being polite to Paul Hudson.

        It is a common tactic among the commenters to shoot the messenger if they do not like the presentation of the facts. The point is to deprive the most vocal of the easy ammo: the distracting ad hominem, and help the readers hear the facts through any existing prejudice.

  11. I guess that when you don’t have any science on your side and don’ t know how to do science yourself, the only thing you can do is misrepresent the science others do.

    These guys have to be delusional–it’s a survival skill. Were they to perceive how pathetic they actually are, they’d slit their own throats.

  12. Do you suppose Hudson failed to actually cite or link to the article he abused because the abstract said something counter to his thesis?

    “If the updated measurements of solar ultraviolet irradiance are correct, low solar activity, as observed during recent years, drives cold winters in northern Europe and the United States, and mild winters over southern Europe and Canada, with little direct change in globally averaged temperature.” — http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo1282.html

  13. William Hershel was the first scientist to explore the link between climate and the Sun back in 1801! They are countless papers about this problem. Actually, dendrochronology was develloped by Eddy just for that application.

  14. Rob Honeycutt

    The bigger the lie, the more likely people are to actually believe it’s true.

  15. Rob Honeycutt

    Perhaps it would be worth collecting all the research of the past 30 years on solar influences on climate and forward them to Mr Hudson so he can catch up on the state of the science.

  16. Well I’m just sitting next to the cracker barrel with my feet up so of course I am one of those that know everything. But I wish him luck and I would not be surprised if something is found on a regional level. Small change on a global average but bigger regional swings. I also think they will have trouble because GW has taken over. When the refrigerator door opens and the arctic dumps over the midwest two years in a row I look at the arctic warming faster than the mid latitudes. Now is that because of a weaker temp gradient or changing patterns due to jet stream amplitude, or something else. Now I see it being caused by GW but 30 years ago I may have seen it caused by high solar activity close to solar max. It is just my impression but it seems to me that anything new in meteorology is quite often met with resistance. Its not a bad thing. With a myriad of things that can cause something to happen one time but not the next it is not hard to be fooled sometimes. Not bad to have in your arsenal so if you mess up you have something else to blame it on. Now if I would have ever done research like this it would have been before computers going through climate books and drawing graphs freehand and only taking an hour here or there when I had a chance. And very possibly seeing something that really wasn’t there. But it may have been used to form opinions on things like cold or warm winter, or will CA have wild fires or fall into the ocean because of mud slides. Of course back then if someone then mentioned el nino or la nina I just would gotten a confused look on my face and walked away.

  17. David B. Benson

    Solar cycle warming at the Earth’s surface in NCEP and ERA-40 data: A linear discriminant analysis
    Tung & Camp
    JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 113, D05114, 11 PP., 2008
    doi:10.1029/2007JD009164
    “The pattern shows a global warming of the Earth’s surface of about 0.2 K,…”
    althuough purdence suggests a somewhat smaller global warming/cooling over the solar cycle [as a reader of the full paper will discover]. There are at least two other related papers by these authors.

  18. Timothy (likes zebras)

    The difference a word makes!
    If Hudson had inserted the word “only” to form the sentence:

    “For as long as I have been a meteorologist, the mere suggestion that only solar activity could influence climate patterns has been greeted with near derision.”

    Well that is right on the money, still is, and has been for as long as I can remember.

  19. Timothy,

    I would suggest that you email Paul your suggestion. It is right on the money and would have avoided a whole lot of confusion. Without that “only” his statement is simply false.