Climate ball is up in the air
IT is surprising to see the slow response of Climate Change Minister Penny Wong in fielding a team to counter the arguments assembled by Family First senator Steve Fielding's team of experts and presented on this page last week. At this stage we don't know whether the questions are too hard or she has opted for the regal approach of lofty silence. As a mere scientist, I'll join my colleague Neville Nicholls, whose letter was published in The Australian on Saturday, and step in where others have declined to tread.
A crucial issue remains for our two teams to debate when they meet after the next siren. Even though a computer model incorporating CO2 variations and feedback mechanisms gives results consistent with temperature change of the past 50 years, that does not prove the link between CO2 and temperature change, especially if the link fails to be consistent with similar temperature changes in historic times. Are there alternative physical or chemical phenomena not yet incorporated into our climate models? Peter Schwerdtfeger offered one important phenomenon, the role of micro-particulate matter (air pollution), in these pages yesterday (see here).
The highly complex interaction of solar activity, solar magnetic field, solar wind, cosmic rays and cloud formation is another. For examples, see studies by scientists from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and the Swiss Institute of Applied Physics and Climate Change Research, published this year in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics. The former study, which uses sunspot records instead of tree rings as basic data, observes: "Interestingly, the amplitude of the present period of global warming does not significantly differ from the other episodes of relative warming that occurred in earlier centuries." It appears that a Dutch referee is affirming team Fielding's goal.
Read it here.