One of the central claims of global warming sceptics is that the Earth´s climate has always fluctuated and that present changes are the result of natural solar activity and not human activity (in particular carbon dioxide emissions).
The argument has always been popular with sceptics (such as those who work in the oil industry) because it claims "scientific neutrality" while supporting the notion that human activity has no effect on our climate. Thus the sceptics can claim neutrality and rationality when in fact many of them seem to have made their minds up and then looked around for a theory to support their prejudice.
Now, finally, there has been an analysis of the sun´s behaviour over the last twenty-five years of the Twentieth Century to determine whether the solar theory is in fact supportable.
It is not.
The data shows that since 1985 the temperature of the sun has been falling as the global temperature on the Earth rises. Furthermore, the rate of increase of the global temperature on Earth has been accelerating. In fact, global temperatures have risen by 0.2 degrees per decade and the top 10 warmest years on record have happened in the past 12 years despite the falling temperature of the sun.
The solar theory has already rejected by many scientists - but happily championed by the media. "The Great Global Warming Swindle" (Channel 4) pushed the theory, but was then criticised for distorting data and misrepresenting the opinions of scientists involved in the program. Similarly, a long line of scientists funded by the Oil industry or their friends in the White House have jumped on this argument as a way to deny that we have any responsibility for climate change.
So we should not be surprised when one scientist in the solar camp (Nir Shaviv of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) claimed that the study was inaccurate due to a "time lag" between changes in the sun and its effect on our climate.
Professor Lockwood has rightly criticised this view as "disingenuous" pointing out that this lag has never been mentioned before by proponents and claiming that "It´s only been invoked now as a way out."
The sad fact is that the public have been successfully conned by global warming sceptics. Although there is almost no argument within the scientific community regarding the issue, a recent Mori poll confirmed that over half of those polled thought that the scientific community was split on the issue.
A spokesman for the Royal Society set the record straight...."At present there is a small minority which is seeking to deliberately confuse the public on the causes of climate change. They are often misrepresenting the science, when the reality is that the evidence is getting stronger every day. We have reached a point where a failure to take action to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions would be irresponsible and dangerous."