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WARMING: Russian left out in the cold

| November 30, 2010 6:29 AM

Cliff Harris’ Nov. 15 column quotes a Russian space scientist as claiming that we will be in a “Little Ice Age” in four years.  It is perhaps fortunate that Academician Abdussmatov is stationed in Saint Petersburg. Had he worked in Moscow he may have noticed the record high temperatures in Russia and, if he read the newspapers, 18 other nations. Abdussmatov’s beliefs are not supported by science and, in fact, are self contradictory.

He claims that Total Solar Irradiance or TSI is responsible for the warmth of the late Twentieth and, so far, the Twenty-First Centuries. He dismisses greenhouse gasses as a cause of global warming.  Robert Henson of the National Center for Atmospheric Research points out, “The IPCC now deems it very likely (more than 90 % certain) that greenhouse gasses wielded more influence than total solar output in driving the last fifty years of warming.” Skeptical Science magazine printed, “between the 1960s and the present day the same solar measurements have shown that the energy from the Sun is now decreasing. At the same time temperature measurements of the air and sea have shown that the Earth has continued to be warmer and warmer. This proves it cannot be the Sun, something else must be causing the Earth’s temperature to rise.”

Harris also claims that Abdussmatov delivered his ideas in a speech. In fact, it was an interview with the Novosti News Service. In either case, this cannot be compared to peer reviewed science published in a reputable journal.

Abdussmatov argues the Solar Minimum first described by the English astronomer Walter Maunder will repeat and cool the planet.  However, in a 2010 publication in the American Geophysical Union’s journal Feulner and Rahmstorf researched the effects of another Maunder Minimum compared to the known effects of greenhouse gasses.  Their conclusion: at most, solar forcing would cause a cooling of .3 degrees Centigrade; the minimum gain from CO2 and other greenhouse gasses is 3.7 degrees C.  In other words, given a maximum solar event and minimum Carbon Dioxide emissions the gasses would cause more than 12 times as much warming as the Sun would chill.  Abdussmatov loses 12 to 1.

Harris has backed another loser.  For the interested, I would recommend the Skeptical Science issues (they’re online) on the Sun, The Maunder Minimum, and if you dig out Abdussmatov’s Novosti interview the issue on Cooling Oceans.

JEFFREY E. BOURGET

Coeur d’Alene

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