It has been some time since I raised the dread subject of global warming and the reason is perfectly simple, there hasn't been any! Well, not for the last 15+ years despite CO2 emissions going through the roof, or perhaps, up the chimney is a better phrase. Years ago it was rather fun to gather outside a cage of 'Warmers' and poke them with sharp sticks through the bars but alas, today, now that their silly alarms have proved to be exactly that - silly - there's no fun in it. I make the occasional visit to the United Temple of Deltoids where what remains of the congregation huddle together for, er, warmth as they continue to chant "I belieeeeeeve, I belieeeeeeve"! Even the blog-owner, Tim Lambert (such a credit to Australia!), can't even be bothered to write any more.
However, over at the ever-excellent Watt's Up With That the discussions continue as the host, Anthony Watts, and his mostly very erudite commenters try to grapple with the complexities of global climate and the various factors which might cause change. Perhaps the most mysterious is the effect, if any, of the sun. One of the indications of what is going on in that incredible galactic furnace is the sun spot activity. The sun does not, like the ladies, have a monthly period but instead a roughly 11-year cycle in which the sun spot activity increases to a pitch and then declines until the next 11 year (+/-) period kicks in. But what, the experts argue, is the cause and effect of this periodic activity and, when there is a grand variation as there is in the current cycle, what effect will it have on earth?
Please note that I have 'squidged' that diagram slightly from right to left to fit it in. However, you can see that whilst we have 'enjoyed' two mini 'peaks' they were nowhere near the previous cycle's heights. So this solar period is very definitely different from the preceeding one and only time will tell where it will stand in the scale of things over the next, say, twenty years.
Anthony Watts has a post on the subject, from whence I nicked the diagram above, and it is well worth reading the comments thread below it. What is encouraging, and also the reason why I have always admired Watts's site, is the fact that so many of his learn-ed readers have different ideas on the implications of what is going on with the sun and what precise effect, if at all, it will have on us and our relative speck of a planet. The concensus seems to be that it will definitely have an effect but the estimates of it vary from marginal to huge, so you can read it all and take your pick! For myself, as always in these complex scientific matters about which I know bugger all, I rely entirely on my commonsense, or, my gut feeling, if you want to be picky about it. And that tells me that virtually everything, and I mean absolutely everything, from the moment those early bits of galactic rubbish began to meld together has been influenced by the sun. Exactly how remains a mystery, as Brent Walker, in a comment explains:
According to Jack Eddy in his book “The sun, earth and near earth space” of
the energy emitted by the sun that reaches Earth’s environs only 60% makes it to
ground level. The rest is absorbed in the atmosphere or reflected back into
space. It takes around 100,000 years for heat generated by the nuclear furnace
at the center of the sun to reach its visible surface. Also at its visible
surface the plasma is as dense as is space about 500 km above Earth where we
typically put satellites. He says that the sun’s plasma half way from its
visible surface to its center (about 350,000 km) is still less than half as
dense than Earth’s atmosphere at ground level. (At the top of Everest it is
about 70% of the density at sea level.)
I think we misjudge the sun and what it is capable of because we don’t understand it and we have little idea of the effect of the time-lags associated with much of its apparent activity. In just the area of the sun’s jet streams I suspect helio-physicists might have decades of work ahead of them before they can really understand how they work and what causes their changes. In my view TSI is only part of the equation. The sun delivers energy to Earth via a number of different mechanisms some of which involve its magnetic field lines interacting with Earth’s field lines. Also the role of flux portals might be important. Finally we mustn’t forget the huge role our oceans, lakes and ice shelves play in temperature moderation. This affects the lags in the change in climate in different parts of the globe when inputs change.
It's not just 'the elephant in the room', it's the unbelievably huge galactic fireball in the room, and we ignore it at our peril.