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Solar Physics and the Climate Problem

Published onAug 18, 2020
Solar Physics and the Climate Problem

When I delivered a paper on solar activity at the first SPD meeting, none of us thought it had anythiong to do with Earth’s climate. Scientists of earlier generations had published correlations between solar variations and one or another terrestrial phenomenon, but by 1970 modern statistical analysis had driven out everyone but cranks. However, in 1976 Jack Eddy boldly nailed down the existence of a long period of low solar activity coinciding with the “Little Ice Age” familiar to climate historians. Meanwhile solar activity was increasing to historic highs—and so was global temperature. Most experts thought the global warming was caused by emissions of greenhouse gases, but corporations that profited from emissions and others who despised government regulation exploited the hypothetical solar-climate connection to deny that we faced dangerous climate change. Debate exploded, invoking complex mechanisms whereby solar activity might affect Earth’s atmosphere. These arguments collapsed when solar activity dropped yet global temperature climbed ever faster. Nevertheless the zombie belief that global warming is a harmless “natural cycle” persists, helping to impede urgent policy changes


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