Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Quiz #2 (With Answers)

Following last week's test of climate change comprehension, a second chance to improve your skills. Start with quotes from the October 1st Financial Times; quiz questions follow:

Para 1: "The Sun has gone quiet, very quiet. The solar wind -- which is comprised of electrically charged particles streaming out from the star -- is weaker than at any time since scientists began accurate observations in the 1950s, and the number of sunspots in 2008 may be the lowest since the 19th century." [NOfP note: chart here]

Para 4: "Experts are reluctant to predict the consequences for Earth and its inhabitants because there are so many complex interactions between the Sun’s output, the planet’s atmosphere and magnetic field, and cosmic radiation from outer space. Some climatologists say that, over a period of decades, a quieter Sun means a cooler Earth, although the relationship between solar activity and climate is particularly controversial."

Para 5: "To add to the uncertainty, no one knows how long the Sun is likely to stay quiet. One extreme would be a continued period of inactivity, with very few sunspots or solar storms, that could last for decades. The last such suspension of the 11-year solar cycle occurred between 1645 and 1715, a period known by historians of astronomy as the Maunder Minimum, which coincided with the coldest period of the past millennium, known as the 'little ice age'."

Para 8: "'Predicting the next maximum now is rather like forecasting next summer’s weather in the middle of winter,' says Jim Wild, a space scientist at Lancaster University."

Para 19: "Although some people who are sceptical about the human influence on global warming like to emphasise the link between solar variability and climate, Prof Mayewski turns their argument on its head: 'The fact that we are not in conditions like the little ice age today shows that the atmosphere is being perturbed by human activities,' he says."

Para 20: "If the Sun stays quiet for the next few years, it may temper the effects of man-made global warming for a while but most experts believe that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will eventually push temperatures higher again."


1. Since when does "complex interactions" make "expert" "climatologists" "reluctant to predict" the weather "over a period of decades"?

2. How many "space scientist[s]" are shy about "forecasting next summer’s weather in the middle of winter"?

3. If cooling short of a "little ice age" "shows" "human activities" alter the climate, what evidence would show the contrary?

4. Does the admission that natural forces "temper the effects of man-made global warming" translate, as Planet Gore's Edward Craig suggests, into "sure, it's cooling, but it would be a lot colder if it weren't for global warming"?

5. What are the odds this story was written back-to-front, i.e., first the conclusion, then the lede and facts?

6. What are the odds Bernard on Free Republic is right?:
Bernard's Law of Inverse Relationships - The strength of the solar wind is inversely proportional to the amount of hot air coming out of Washington, DC. This is especially true for science substitutes for scientific fact regarding climate change. Expect the solar wind to remain very weak for the next 35 days or so. Maybe longer.

All questions were rhetorical.

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