The Sun-Climate Effect: The Winter Gatekeeper Hypothesis (I). The search for a solar signal

by Javier Vinós & Andy May

“Probably no subfield of meteorology has had as much effort devoted to it as the effects of solar variability on weather and climate. And none has had as little to show for the research labor.” Helmut E. Landsberg (1982)

1.1 Introduction

The sun has been correctly identified as the source of climate since the dawn of human intelligence, and consequently the sun was worshipped in many ancient cultures. Large sunspots are visible with the naked eye when the sun is low on the horizon and partially obscured by dust or smoke. Several myths and iconography suggest sunspots were known to ancient cultures from America, Africa, and Asia, however, the first written mention of a sunspot comes from Theophrastus’ De Signis Tespestatum c. 325 BC. This first written record of solar variability was already linked to a climatic effect, since Theophrastus mentions it is related to rainfall. Theophrastus is considered the father of botany and was a student of Aristotle. He succeeded Aristotle as the head of the Lyceum when Aristotle, teacher of Alexander the Great, had to flee Athens due to anti-Macedonian sentiment. Theophrastus’ mention in passing of sunspots must have referred to common knowledge from the past, since he lived during the Greek grand solar minimum of 390–310 BC (Usoskin 2017) and it is very unlikely that anybody at that time could have seen a sunspot with their naked eyes. Most naked-eye sunspot observations known to us come from China, where records have been found starting from 165 BC. The oldest known drawing of actual sunspots is from the Chronicon ex chronicis by John of Worcester, dated in the manuscript to December 1128, during the Medieval grand maximum in solar activity.

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Are we in a Recession?

By Andy May

I was annoyed at the news media arguments about whether we are in a recession. The news media are supposed to explain things, not confuse everyone with silly quotes from competing “experts.” Every freaking thing these days is political, but as someone who makes his living by investing, I need to know if we are in a recession. The news media (even the WSJ) are useless these days, that meant figuring it out. Usually, a recession doesn’t matter to me, I’d just ride it out, but with inflation nearly 10% per year, recessions matter.

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Koonin-Dessler Debate

By Andy May

Andrew Dessler and Steven Koonin will debate the resolution “Climate science compels us to make large and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” Dessler will take the affirmative, and Koonin will take the negative. Dessler is a Professor of Atmospheric Science at Texas A&M University and Koonin is a Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering at NYU, his background is in theoretical physics.

They had separate back-to-back long-form interviews with Joe Rogan this past winter, Koonin’s interview is here, and Dessler’s is here. Koonin’s best-selling book, Unsettled, was the focus of both interviews. Koonin’s book emphasizes that the ideas that humans are causing climate change and climate change is dangerous are not “settled” facts and may very well be incorrect. Dessler did not dispute the facts and analysis presented in Koonin’s book but thought that Koonin did not tell the whole story about human-caused climate change. This debate will allow them to discuss their differences on climate change, it should be very interesting.

The debate will convene at The Sheen Center, 18 Bleecker Street in Lower Manhattan, at 6:30 pm East Coast time on Monday, August 15, 2022. Tickets are available to attend in person or to participate in the live stream. A recording of the event will also be available about a week after the debate. I will be watching the debate on the live stream ($7.43 with tax); I hope all of you do as well.

There will be the traditional pre- and post-debate polls of the in-person audience views on the debate resolution, it isn’t clear if the on-line audience will be polled before and after. I’ll let you know when I find out. You might recall that in the last major climate change debate in 2007, at IQ2US, the website was tampered with and changed to report the wrong results, see here for the details. I notice that sometime in the past few months, the IQ2US results for the 2007 debate have been removed entirely, even the false results are gone.

The EU’s Green Experiment

By Andy May

The GWPF has just released a new report, written by John Constable describing the economic impact of their green policies, and it isn’t pretty. Some highlights:

  • EU electricity prices to households are 80% above the rest of the G20, and EU industrial prices are 30% above the G20, natural gas prices to households are double the G20.
  • The high prices are likely responsible for a reduction in electricity consumption. This is not good since the quality of life is closely correlated to energy consumption. Energy consumption is also the main determinant of health and environmental quality.
  • Carbon dioxide abatement costs are many times higher than even the high-end estimates of the social cost of carbon, suggesting that the economic harm of the EU’s carbon mitigation policies is higher than the possible (or projected, if you prefer) cost of global warming.
  • Employment in European wind and solar industries has fallen since 2008, subsidies failed to add jobs in Europe, as the equipment is now purchased from China. The only area of renewable job growth is in biofuels, basically cutting down trees and making ethanol from food. Biofuels are also responsible for a lot of Europe’s toxic air pollution.
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Ability of mankind to solve problems is beyond imagination

Message to governments: Don’t kill human creativity with political stupidity

By Franco Battaglia and Guus Berkhout

This is from an interview of Professor Guus Berkhout by Professor Franco Battaglia, published July 20, 2022 in La Verità, a daily newspaper in Italy. Berkhout is a retired professor of geophysics from the Technical University of Delft and a co-founder of CLINTEL. Battaglia is a professor of chemistry at Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia.

Q: Can you tell me something about CLINTEL?

A: Climate Intelligence (CLINTEL) is an independent foundation active in the field of climate change and energy transition. CLINTEL was initiated by emeritus professor of geophysics Guus Berkhout with the objective to make the many critical climate organizations around the world combine forces and work closely together against one-sided information and false conclusions promoted in the news media. CLINTEL was founded by Guus Berkhout and science journalist Marcel Crok (author of the book The State of the Climate) in March 2019.

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The Two-Degree Limit

By Andy May

For decades We have been told that we must not let global warming exceed two degrees Celsius above the “pre-industrial” global average temperature. Recently the IPCC lowered this limit to 1.5°C. In the latest IPCC report, called AR6, pre-industrial is defined as before 1750, but they use global temperatures from 1850-1900 as representative of the period because global average surface temperatures are not available for 1750.[1] The U.S., Europe, and much of Asia were industrialized by 1900, so their numbers are clearly not representative of the period of interest, unless temperatures remained constant from 1750 to 1900, which is unlikely.

Why the focus on 2°? In a 2014 comment in Nature, David Victor and Charles Kennel tell us that there is little scientific basis for the 2°C figure, but it was a simple focal point and it “sounded bold and perhaps feasible.” (Victor & Kennel, 2014). Then they admit the goal is “effectively unachievable.”

What is the “pre-industrial?” Did it have an ideal climate that we wish to return to? The year 1750 was in the coldest and most miserable part of the Little Ice Age (LIA). The LIA was the coldest period in the Holocene Epoch, or since the last glacial period ended about 12,000 years ago, at least in much of the Northern Hemisphere.

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Be Proud that we Excel

And you thought the United States had problems …

By Guus Berkhout

The Netherlands has become a prosperous country by excelling in many sectors. That excellence was based on a well-educated population. Think of the professionals in our public transport, who are widely praised for their punctuality and comfort. I also mention the engineers in our energy sector who provided affordable, reliable, and clean energy 24/7. And especially our agricultural sector, which is seen worldwide as a textbook example of how to farm intensively in an increasingly sustainable way. I could go on and on. The Netherlands was a country to be proud of. How could it go so wrong in such a short time?

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Critical comments by Happer and Lindzen on the SEC Rule

By Andy May

Marcel Crok, co-founder of CLINTEL, a Dutch foundation, ask me to explain the U.S. controversy over the proposed SEC climate change rule for European audiences. Both the rule and the controversy are complicated, but I did my best. See the essay at here.

CO2 Sample Spacing in Ice Cores

Guest Post by Renee Hannon


This post examines sample spacing for CO2 measurements in Antarctic ice cores during the past 800,000 years to better understand if gaps in sampling are too large to capture centennial fluctuations. The IPCC states:

“Although ice core records present low-pass filtered time series due to gas diffusion and gradual bubble close-off in the snow layer over the ice sheet (Fourteau et al., 2020), the rate of increase since 1850 CE (about 125 ppm increase over about 170 years) is far greater than implied for any 170-year period by ice core records that cover the last 800 ka (very high confidence).”

AR6 Climate Change 2021, Chapter 2 IPCC
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Why does Boston Buy Natural Gas from Russia?

My latest op-ed appeared in American Greatness while I was on vacation, and I missed it, here is a quote and the link. A photo of an LNG tanker carrying Russian natural gas arriving in Boston Harbor 4 years ago can be seen here.

“Europe is vulnerable and needs our natural gas; prices are absurdly high and going higher. Yet, everyone in the oil and gas industry is afraid to invest any money, even if they have financing available. Who wants to start a 10- to 20-year natural gas project, whether it’s a gas field, pipeline, or LNG (liquified natural gas) terminal, when the current administration is saying it will shut you down in 10 years?

“You’ve got six years, eight years, no more than 10 years or so,” says climate envoy John Kerry. “No one should make it easy for the [natural] gas interests to be building out 30- or 40-year infrastructure.”

In the meantime, India has relaxed its environmental regulations and plans to double its use of coal. China has cut coal import tariffs to zero to ensure energy security and lower costs.”

American Greatness

Read more here.

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