Cue the derision for Ron Johnson has challenged orthodoxy. In a head posted last night, the Journal Sentinel claims that, in a meeting with the editorial board, Johnson supposedly claimed that "sunspots are to blame for global warming."
It's not clear that's quite what he said. He is quoted as stating that he does not believe that there is anthropogenic global warming and that "[i]t's far more likely that it's just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time ...."
But he threw the sunspots out there and, rather predictably, some local bloggers have started to chortle.
But here's the thing. That solar activity, as measured by sunspot activity, may have an impact on climate is not a new claim and not at all crazy. The claim is that sun activity is positively correlated with temperature increases. Some argue that this undercuts claims for AGW. Others say it does not, noting that sun spot activity cycles over the short term while temperature increases have been long term. (Although still others claim that the sun has had an unusually active century.) As seems so common in this field, they argue that the "solar advocates" (for lack of a better word)have been sloppy with data. Still others seem to say that solar activity is a confounding factor or may ameliorate the impact of AGW. Some (even the IPCC) think solar activity plays a role, but argue that it cannot explain more recent warming trends.
The fact that scientists differ does not, of course, mean that each side has a point. Sorting through all of this would take time and expertise and I will guarantee you that no local blogger has done the work necessary to definitively pronounce on this.
I take Johnson to be making a more general point. Questions around AGW are complex and multi-faceted. Data is limited. There is reason to doubt that we can be as certain about AGW as an existential crisis as some would claim. There is reason to doubt that we can control climate through policy choices.
Ironically, the Journal Sentinel, in providing Russ Feingold's take, catches him committing a cardinal sin according to the environmentalist canon. His take? ""Do you notice the heat lately, my friend?"
Please, Russ, WEATHER is not CLIMATE !!!!