Here comes the sun(spots)

February, 2010, was the first month since 2007 with sunspots every day according to for February 27. A quick check of February 28 confirms the streak. So far there have been only 2 spot-free days in 2010. By comparison there were 260 spot-free days in 2009, and there have been 772 spot-free days since 2004. What this means is that one of the quietest periods of solar activity in recent history may be coming to an end.

The relevance of this is that sunspot activity has been proposed by many, such as Geerts and Linacre , as a possible driver of Earth's climate patterns, including global warming and cooling cycles. As with most climate theory, the science has not been settled on the link between sunspots and Earth's climate.

Most, but not all according to some. Global Warming theory is considered so sacred and settled that until recently any scientist who questioned the tenets of its conclusion that human activity is the primary driver of climate change were subject to all but ridicule and censure. Recent events, including the Climategate scandal and a series of years where global temperature has stayed about the same, have tempered this attitude.

But now the sunspots come back and we, as junior scientists are presented with the opportunity to test the hypothesis. If sunspot activity increases, and other factors such as prevalence of greenhouse gases, volcanic activity, and known cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation continue in their recent patterns and temperature increases, then we may conclude that sunspots do indeed affect Earth's climate. If not, then we can eliminate sunspots as a significant contributor to climate change.

We also have the opportunity to make another observation in the realm of the social sciences. If sunspot activity does increase and temperatures increase even when other factors are accounted for, then if there are any individuals with a vested interest in the carbon trading industry it would be expected that these individuals will attribute the rise in temperatures to CO2 levels increasing. If no one makes such claims then we can conclude that everyone is really interested in the facts only and have no vested interest in controlling carbon consumption.

A scientist would wait for the data to come in. A gambler would lay odds on another round of global warming hysteria if temperatures rise no matter what the real reason.

Tom Bruner is not a scientist.

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