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Is ‘global cooling’ the real threat?

- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 24, 2007

Two notably frank global-warming contrarians spoke out this week. One is R. Timothy Patterson, a Canadian geologist. The other is Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic and an economist. People who suspect that the global-warming emperor has no clothes will want to hear both.

Mr. Patterson, a professor of geology at Carleton University, has spent several years studying 5,000 years' worth of sedimentary fossil evidence in deep Canadian fjords, which he analyzed in light of solar patterns. He found that changes in the fossil record correlate highly with changes in climate which in turn correlate with solar change. Over thousands of years, one finds dark layers of dirt which accumulate during cold periods, interspersed with fossilized fish scales and phytoplankton which build up during nutrient- and life-rich warm periods. The record "correlates closely to the well-known 11-year 'Schwabe' sunspot cycle, during which the output of the sun varies by about 0.1 percent." He also found that longer-term solar variations also correlate with changes in the fossil record, some of which are more dramatic than the 11-year cycle and have a correspondingly greater impact on the climate and the fossil record. In one case, Mr. Patterson and colleagues found a drastic shift from warm, sunny and dry conditions to several decades of cold and rain over a mere 62 years. Some of the solar-driven changes are much more dramatic than the present modest change.

His conclusion: "It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada." That is because the Earth is entering its weakest Schwabe cycle in two centuries beginning around 2020. Also of note: "CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet's climate on long, medium and even short time scales," he contends. All of this is consistent with a 2003 poll by German researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch in which two-thirds of poll respondents among more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries did not believe that "a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases" could be reached because the science is still in its infancy.

Read the whole summary by Mr. Patterson as originally published in the Financial Post, a Canadian newspaper, at http://www.financialpost.com.

For a more philosophical take, read contrarian number two, Vaclav Klaus, who penned an op-ed for the Financial Times followed by a smartly arranged question-and-answer session with readers. The issue today is "more about social than natural sciences and more about man and his freedom than tenths of a degree Celsius changes in average global temperature." Asked whether ignoring the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a sound risk-management strategy, Mr. Klaus responds: "I think it is a very bad risk management strategy to follow the summary report on climate change of the IPCC. To do it would be a giving up of risk management rules and of standard cost-benefit analysis techniques in favour of environmentalist 'precautionary principle' which totally discredits risk management and comparison of costs and benefits." Read this whole intriguing exchange, too, at http://www.financialtimes.com.