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The Story Behind That 2007 Paper

June 26, 2015

By Paul Homewood 




As I mentioned yesterday, Dr Mike Lockwood wrote a paper back in 2007 which claimed that changes in solar radiation had no impact on recent global warming. 

What is intriguing is that six years later, in 2013, he seems to have totally changed his mind, as the BBC meteorologist, Paul Hudson, related at the time:


It’s known by climatologists as the ‘Little Ice Age’, a period in the 1600s when harsh winters across the UK and Europe were often severe.

The severe cold went hand in hand with an exceptionally inactive sun, and was called the Maunder solar minimum.

Now a leading scientist from Reading University has told me that the current rate of decline in solar activity is such that there’s a real risk of seeing a return of such conditions.

I’ve been to see Professor Mike Lockwood to take a look at the work he has been conducting into the possible link between solar activity and climate patterns.

According to Professor Lockwood the late 20th century was a period when the sun was unusually active and a so called ‘grand maximum’ occurred around 1985.

Since then the sun has been getting quieter.

By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, he has been able to determine how active the sun has been over thousands of years.

Following analysis of the data, Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.

He found 24 different occasions in the last 10,000 years when the sun was in exactly the same state as it is now – and the present decline is faster than any of those 24.

Based on his findings he’s raised the risk of a new Maunder minimum from less than 10% just a few years ago to 25-30%.

And a repeat of the Dalton solar minimum which occurred in the early 1800s, which also had its fair share of cold winters and poor summers, is, according to him, ‘more likely than not’ to happen.

He believes that we are already beginning to see a change in our climate – witness the colder winters and poor summers of recent years – and that over the next few decades there could be a slide to a new Maunder minimum.

It’s worth stressing that not every winter would be severe; nor would every summer be poor. But harsh winters and unsettled summers would become more frequent.

Professor Lockwood doesn’t hold back in his description of the potential impacts such a scenario would have in the UK.

He says such a change to our climate could have profound implications for energy policy and our transport infrastructure.

Although the biggest impact of such solar driven change would be regional, like here in the UK and across Europe, there would be global implications too.

According to research conducted by Michael Mann in 2001, a vociferous advocate of man-made global warming, the Maunder minimum of the 1600s was estimated to have shaved 0.3C to 0.4C from global temperatures.

It is worth stressing that most scientists believe long term global warming hasn’t gone away. Any global cooling caused by this natural phenomenon would ultimately be temporary, and if projections are correct, the long term warming caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would eventually swamp this solar-driven cooling.

But should North Western Europe be heading for a new "little ice age", there could be far reaching political implications – not least because global temperatures may fall enough, albeit temporarily, to eliminate much of the warming which has occurred since the 1950s.


So what happened in the space of six years to cause such an about turn? The clue lies in Christopher Booker’s book, The Real Global Warming Disaster, (page 186/7), where he writes about the Channel Four programme, “The Great Global Warming Swindle”, produced by Martin Durkin: 


What enraged the upholders of the ‘consensus’ more than anything else, however, was the publicity Durkin’s film gave to those scientists who believed that the real cause of global warming (and cooling) lay in the activity of the sun, particularly the theories of Friis-Christensen and Svensmark. Friis-Christensen’s work, it was pointed out on various blogs, had been wholly discredited. One graph shown in the film, it was claimed, had deliberately omitted the last few years of solar activity, because to have included these would have shown that it had been declining just when global temperatures were rising, thus exposing the theory as false (Durkin amended this for the DVD version of his film by adding the missing years).

So concerned were the advocates of the ‘consensus’ by the interest now being shown in the view that global warming might be related to the activity of the sun that some more formal riposte was inevitable. On July 11 2007 it came. Bearing all the signs of a carefully planned operation, the media, led by the BBC and Nature, suddenly came out with a rash of news items trailing a new study which, it was claimed, had completely demolished the ‘solar warming’ thesis.

The paper, published online by the Royal Society, was by Professor Mike Lockwood, a physicist at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory, and Claus Frőhlich of the World Radiation Center in Davos, Switzerland.They claimed that a fresh look at the data for the previous 100 years showed that Svensmark’s solar data were seriously wrong. They conceded that the sun’s magnetic activity had been higher in the 20th century than in previous centuries, and also, perhaps surprisingly, admitted that in earlier years this had significantly influenced global temperatures. But in 1985 it had peaked and started to decline, and it was at just this time that global surface temperatures had continued to rise, higher than ever. This was the proof, they claimed, that solar activity could not be the cause of recent warming.

Supporters of the ‘consensus’ were exultant at their coup. ‘This paper is the final nail in the coffin for people who would like to make the Sun responsible for present global warming’, one German climate scientist told Nature‘This should settle the debate’, said Lockwood himself, expressing particular anger at the Channel Four programme, which he described as ‘so bad it was almost fraudulent’

Yet the Royal Society’s paper had a number of odd features. One was that its seven pages of text were written so opaquely, citing so many sources, that it looked as though the authors’ chief purpose was just to put across their central headline message.   

They were at pains, for instance, not to argue with the mass of research showing that, up to recent times, solar effects had played a significant part in influencing global temperatures (‘it is becoming feasible’, they conceded, ‘to detect genuine solar forcing in climate records’). The focus of their concern was the period since 1985, in assessing whether ‘solar variations could have played any role in observed present-day global warming’. Here, having established that solar activity had weakened, they could put across their central message: that, because surface temperatures had continued to rise, there could be no connection between current warming and the Sun. 

But herein lay several disconcerting features of their argument. One was that a graph allegedly showing the cosmic ray count (gleefully reproduced by the BBC) in fact showed something quite unrelated to cosmic rays. A graph of the actual cosmic ray count (from the Climax neutron monitor) showed, for instance, that in the early 1990s it was very low, indicating the likely onset of a strong warming phase over the following years. Why had this evidence been misrepresented and omitted?

Then why had they only included a graph of recent surface temperatures and not one showing satellite data? The latest satellite record of lower air temperatures since 1979 showed that, following the El Nino year 1998, levels had fallen markedly, even, in 2000, by as much as a full degree, Although it had risen again, with a spike in 2006, a further sharp fall in 2007 had already taken it down to a level 0.6 of a degree lower than it was in 1998, Indeed it was slightly lower than a level it had reached in 1983.

Not to include this was suspect enough. But even more so was the way in which the record of surface temperatures on which Lockwood and Frőlich hung their case, instead of giving year-by-year figures, was smoothed out to show a continuous warming. Looked at on a year-by-year basis, the latest data from the Hadley Centre gave a very different picture. These showed that, in the six years between 2000 and 2006, even the trend line of surface temperatures had not continued to rise, flattening out around an average level more than 0.2 degrees lower than in 1998. Now in 2007, as was already apparent, it was falling further still.

Why did the authors prefer such long-term averages to the simpler message of year-by-year data? The latter would have exposed a crucial flaw in their argument. If rising CO2 levels were the main driver of global warming, then temperatures should also have continued to rise. If temperatures were flattening out at a time when CO2 levels were still increasing, this questioned the entire case for CO2-driven global warming.

Despite such determined efforts being made to discredit the findings of Svensmark’s SKY experiment, not all the world’s more established scientists were so easily satisfied. It had already been announced that in 2010 an international team at CERN, the world’s largest sub-atomic particle laboratory based in Geneva, would be carrying out a very much larger-scale test of Svensmark’s theory, in a project named CLOUD.



A quick glance at the HADCRUT trends from 2001 to 2007 show that, far from continuing to rise as Lockwood claimed, temperatures were if anything dropping.




As we know, the pause in satellite temperatures can be traced back even earlier to 1998, blowing a huge hole in Lockwood’s argument. Given the time lags and state of the ocean cycles, the rise in temperatures between 1985 and 1998 would not have been incompatible with the Svensmark theory.

It appears then that the Lockwood paper of 2007, rather than being an objective piece of science, was simply an attempt to discredit Svensmark theory and the Channel Four programme.


At the end of the BBC report, they commented: 


Drs Svensmark and Friis-Christensen could not be reached for comment. 


I bet they really tried hard to make contact!!   




In September 2007, two months after the Lockwood paper had been released, Svensmark & Friis-Christensen issued a trenchant rebuttal to Lockwood’s conclusions, finding many flaws in his work. (See here)

Without going into the relative merits of either case, the only mention of this on the BBC news site is a brief paragraph here, which Mike Lockwood is then himself given several paragraphs to rebut.

    • Le Gin permalink
      June 27, 2015 7:38 am

      Thanks, an excellent explanation of a very complex process.
      ….and nothing like blowing your own trumpet 🙂
      Good tune though!

  1. John Ellyssen permalink
    June 26, 2015 4:14 pm

    Shades of John Casey’s book: Dark Winter. Saying approximately the same thing. I wish people went back to science instead of Dogma and corruption of science. Good report.

  2. Retired Dave permalink
    June 26, 2015 4:21 pm

    All self-evident realities in the climate area go thorough the same cycle.

    First – a complete denial by cAGW central that such things (solar effects, temperature hiatuses, growing sea ice etc. etc.) exist

    Secondly – a gradual and grudging acceptance that such things do exist –

    BEFORE –

    Thirdly – a realignment to such things being being due to Global Warming – or as in this case, a reason for a slowing of AGW.

    This often leads to totally opposing statements being uttered by the same scientist in a very few years.

    Paul Homewood has underlined this effect before, with the utterances of the Met Office when a dry, cold winter was followed by a mild, wet winter and both we were told was because CO2 was loading the dice in that direction.

    You couldn’t make it up, but they do.

  3. June 26, 2015 4:34 pm

    And exactly how do they continue to get away with this? About time they were held to account in court.

  4. June 26, 2015 4:36 pm

    Excellent post. Another warmunist caught in self contradition trying to spin observations to fit dogma. Trying to fool Mother Nature never ends well.

  5. June 26, 2015 4:42 pm

    Pseudo-science fiction
    Makes an interesting read;
    It’s a pity that by so many
    It’s being believed.

  6. tom0mason permalink
    June 26, 2015 5:23 pm

    Dr Mike Lockwood, like so many warmists, are back-peddling like crazy; furiously trying not to look too irrelevant, as they very reluctantly realize that the sun’s radiation drives the changes in our climate. It is not their first guess, with no scientific basis , not the miniscule (and IMO irrelevant) rise in CO2 that the congregation of ‘climate change’ consensus claimed as the cause of climate changes, but the sun and all it does.

    The vast ‘consensus of scientists’ (IMO most with undiagnosed cognitive decline) are very, very slowly arriving where others, who are demonized by the fashion conscious media, for saying solar output is the major driver of true climate change, and requires more research.

    The discipline of Science has been damaged by these hubris filled, ‘go with the flow’, grant chasing charlatans. Dr. Lockwood et al should bow out, retire, move on and away from this area as, he and his kind have ensured that we all are left paying outrageously massive bills for their follies for a very long time.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      June 27, 2015 12:07 am

      Dr. Lockwood and his ilk should be dismissed, stripped of their pensions and charged with malfeasance in public office.

    • Brian H permalink
      June 29, 2015 9:29 pm


      Tho’ there’s lotsa peddling going on, too.

  7. Kartoffel permalink
    June 26, 2015 5:39 pm

    What is climatology? It used to be the study of a coupled non-linear chaotic system but thanks to politicians today it is half science and half poetry with a slightly trembling voice.
    chaos –

  8. June 26, 2015 11:07 pm

    Reblogged this on CraigM350.

  9. catweazle666 permalink
    June 27, 2015 12:02 am

    “Why had this evidence been misrepresented and omitted?”

    Because they are a bunch of utterly dishonest liars of course.

    Why else?

  10. June 27, 2015 6:36 am

    “‘This should settle the debate’, said Lockwood himself, expressing particular anger at the Channel Four programme, which he described as ‘so bad it was almost fraudulent’.”

    It was watching ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ that first brought the issue of ‘global warming’ to my attention. Prior to that I just did not have time to consider it. As I knew Piers Corbyn from university days, and knew he was a brilliant physicist, I thought that there had to be something in it – and there sure was.

    It was ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ that was so bad it was fraudulent. I agree with others, “Dr. Lockwood and his ilk should be dismissed, stripped of their pensions and charged with malfeasance in public office.” Unfortunately there are too many of these fraudulent ‘climate scientists’, too many are in positions of power and they have a corrupt establishment protecting them from justice.

  11. June 27, 2015 6:25 pm

    Reblogged this on Earth Changing Extremities.

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