Recently, Nicola Scafetta of Duke University and Bruce West of the Army Research Office published an article in Physics Today that suggests variable solar intensity is more strongly coupled to global warming than previously believed. The article, entitled, “Is climate sensitive to solar variability?” is a convincing and well-written piece arguing that if the sun and Earth are modeled as two complex networks exchanging information, temperature changes on Earth can be correctly determined from time variations in solar intensity. The Scafetta and West model even predicts a drop in global temperature in 2002, which was in fact observed. Additionally, it explains the statistical variability in Earth’s temperature, which had previously been interpreted as background noise in global climate change models.
Interestingly, this article is relegated to the Opinion section of the magazine. It does not appear the Feature section with all of the other technical articles. It seems the editors of Physics Today believe that an article presenting evidence against anthropogenic (man made) global climate change does not warrant publication with “factual” scientific articles.
The popular media has declared that scientists agree global warming is probably anthropogenic. For example, CNN.com posted an article entitled “Scientists: Humans ‘very likely’ cause global warming” in which the plural “scientists” seems to refer to the entire scientific community, and “very likely” is certainty to better than 90 percent. Deep within the article is subtly stated that the “scientists” in questions are not all scientists but merely a small panel. However, the damage is already done by the title alone.
While I have tried to avoid taking sides in the global warming debate, I have emphasized several times in this blog that scientists by definition do not know anything with absolute certainly; particularly whether global climate change is real and if so what is causing it. For more details on this argument, check out my post “Global Warming is Too Hot to Handle”. Moreover, the scientific community is not nearly as unified in agreement about the causes of global warming as the popular media suggests.
Nonetheless, it is very difficult for any respectable scientist these days to suggest global warming is anything but anthropogenic. Like Galileo standing against the church, modern scientists proposing explanations for global warming other than man-made greenhouse gasses doom themselves both in the public eye and the scientific community. The anthropogenic global warming theory has become so popularized that peer pressure coerces scientists to look the other way while the underlying cannons of the profession are compromised.
It takes brave scientists to swim against this modern inquisition, and Nicola Scafetta and Bruce West have been unduly disenfranchised by having their technical article published in the Opinion section of Physics Today.