atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#428: So shut up about the hurricanes already.

Here we go. The headline reads "Big increase in hurricanes is not caused by global heating, say scientists."

Last year was supposed to be a banner year in the annals of weather history: we were going to have a record number of hurricanes, and some of them were going to be worse than Katrina. In fact, meteorologists were going to have to add a sixth category to hurricane ratings, because global warming was going to cause some super-hurricanes that would be far beyond "category 5" storms!

...and instead, there were a few tropical storms and no hurricanes worth speaking of. The Atlantic Ocean was cooler in 2006 than it was in 2005, and cooler water means fewer hurricanes, and the ones which do happen will be less intense.

Cooler water doesn't jibe with "global warming", though, does it?

The article mentions that the scientists found evidence confirming that hurricane activity follows a natural cycle, but this was something that actual meteorologists already knew and understood: that we had just finished the "low" part of the cycle, and that we were now entering a phase of greater activity. It has nothing to do with "global warming"; it is just part of a long-period cycle.

The sun follows several cycles, as well; the best-known one is the 11-year sunspot cycle, but there is also a 40-year cycle, and probably others besides. Our star is a variable star, though it does not vary by much (thank God). We don't know what other cycles it may have; the last ice age may have happened because the sun dimmed a bit.

There is a theory, in fact, that the sun has actually "shut down". Observations of solar neutrino flux do not concur with the "solar phoenix" theory of nuclear fusion in stars, and one possible explanation is that the sun periodically shuts off, stops fusing entirely--and then, after a while, starts back up, kind of the way the furnace in your house turns itself on and off periodically.

If the sun's "furnace" went off for a few thousand years, there would be a subtle decrease in solar flux, which could cause global cooling--and if that's so, that might explain why Earth has ice ages every so often. (And, just for the record and as far as we know, an ice age should have started a while back--about a thousand years, maybe--and didn't. No one knows why.)

The real irony of that is, we wouldn't know it. If it's so, then the last time the sun's furnace was "on" was long before humans even understood what the sun actually is. Figure, oh, it shut off around the end of the Medieval Warm Period; if that's when it shut off, we wouldn't know it, because the kind of instruments required to detect the difference weren't invented until the 20th century. And it'll be eons before the sun's furnace switches back on.

Still, warming data from Mars and Neptune would seem to suggest otherwise; the sun is a bit brighter lately, and so Mars and Neptune (and Earth and the other planets) are getting warmer.

Anyway, there it is: more hurricanes is not proof of global warming. Nice try, though.

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