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« What's in the papers? | Main | Stott and Shuck - the transcript »

The Neglected Sun

This review of Vahrenholt and Luning's The Neglected Sun is a guest post by Thomas Cussans.

In June 1997, addressing the United Nations, Bill Clinton made a dramatic assertion. ‘The science is clear and compelling,’ he said. ‘We humans are changing the global climate.’

In fact, Clinton was behind the curve. Well before his claim, the belief in a ‘settled science’ that human CO2 emissions would produce an unprecedented and catastrophic rise in the Earth’s temperatures had become an unchallenged truth. Governments across the world, most obviously in the West, embraced it with a kind of masochistic delight. Green activists were similarly frantic in their assertions of impending disaster. Scenting cheap profits courtesy of immense government grants to produce ‘renewable’ energy, a series of multi-nationals made clear their determination to climb on board the global warming express. No less important, the West’s media took as read that this ‘consensus’ represented an obvious truth.

Towering over this improbable coming-together of vested interests was the United Nations in the shape of its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, established in 1988 as a supposedly disinterested body that would assemble the world’s leading climate experts to pronounce authoritatively on the impending, self-imposed crisis.

The message was unambiguous. The world was moving towards disaster.

At least until Climategate in 2009, those who dared to question the orthodoxy could be dismissed as cranks. If they were not in the pay of Big Oil, they were ‘anti-science’, even ‘anti-climate’. No less tellingly, they were derided as climate ‘deniers’, a term whose deliberate offensiveness made plain the political motives of those labelling them.

Yet at heart, however politicised it has become, the question of global warming is – and can only be – scientific. Is the world warming? And if so, why? More to the point, does it matter?

For at least the last five years, the orthodox view of global warming as a direct product of CO2 emissions has come under increasing challenge. Intially content to swat away its critics with a kind of high-handed snootiness as the work of precisely those deluded fossil-fuel funded ‘deniers’ we could all safely ignore, the response of the orthodox camp has become increasibly jittery. They have good reasons to be worried.

The authors of The Neglected Sun, Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Lüning, present a compelling series of reasons to say that not only is the belief in human-induced CO2 warming over-stated but that it ignores by far the most obvious influence of the Earth’s climate: the Sun.

The core argument is simple. The Sun may be a minor star in an insignificant part of our galaxy but in human terms it generates a staggering quantity of energy. Every second, it produces 620 million metric tons of hydrogen. It has been doing this for something like four billion years. It is estimated that it will continue to do so for a further 5.4 billion years.

That said, it is subject to a series of cycles: short, medium and longer term. These have clearly played the key role in the Earth’s climate. In the mid term, the most obvious are a series of ice ages, played out over thousands of years, briefly interrupted by warmer periods. The last five of these ice ages each lasted 100,000 years, the intervening warm periods about 10,000 years. Over the last 8,000 years or so, there has a period of unusually benign solar activity. Perhaps co-incidentally, this has precisely coordinated with what, historically, has been called the birth of human civilisation: settled communities, writing, agriculture, the domestication of animals.

In the shorter term still, every subsequent advance in human society has coincided with warmer periods, every reverse with cooler periods. Fast forward again and we find that since about 1850 a further period of modest warming has occurred. The IPCC contends that this warming, in stark contrast to all earlier periods of warming, can only be the consequence of increased CO2 emissions.

Never less than politely, Vahrenholt and Lüning tear this simplistic argument into minute shreds. They reserve their major criticisms for the debasement of the science. The West can clearly cite the scientific method as among its most obvious triumphs. Yet this painstakingly-won advantage is now being sacrificed, they contend, in the interests of activists, egos, political necessity and headlines. In short, the science has been corrupted in the interests of political expediency.

We can take some comfort from this. Truth  has a way of winning, however painfully. Patently, Vahrenholt and Lüning have laid out what at the very minimum must be a serious case for calling into question the IPPC orthodoxy. To ignore their arguments can only be an act of deliberate obfuscation or deliberate ignorance.

Buy it here.

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Reader Comments (20)

Every major and most minor points made in the book are supported by citations from peer-reviewed literature. The whole is written in a style that is accessible to the layman, but with plenty of meat in the citations for the academic scientist. The translation is quite brilliantly done, indeed, the success of the English version owes much to the translator. "The Neglected Sun", is as major a breakthrough as our host's " Hockey Stick Illusion".

Sep 30, 2013 at 6:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Lohse


IPPC orthodoxy

Sep 30, 2013 at 6:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernd Felsche

" Every second, it produces 620 million metric tons of hydrogen."


Sep 30, 2013 at 7:05 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Every second, it produces 620 million metric tons of hydrogen

Consumes, I think.

Sep 30, 2013 at 7:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Are you commissioning a review of Darwal's book?

Sep 30, 2013 at 7:33 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel


They must have meant "consumes" the hydrogen (protons), or else produces helium (nuclei)

Sep 30, 2013 at 7:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterLance Wallace

No Sun - no energy, no molten iron core - no magnetic field + no atmosphere and the rest is CO2 and plant life.

Why are we here?

Sep 30, 2013 at 7:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Kevin Lohse

'......points made in the book are supported by citations from peer-reviewed literature.'

Yes, and it would be interesting to list all those papers under overall subject headings (Sun, Clouds, Cycles, Oceans etc.) and just publish them as the 'gold standard' peer reviewed literature the IPCC sweeps under the carpet and ignores ever existed.

Sep 30, 2013 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJazznick

Yes, roughly speaking, every second the sun converts 620 million tonnes of hydrogen into 615 million tonnes of helium and 5 million tonnes of energy.

Sep 30, 2013 at 8:40 AM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

The ice ages have everything to do with Milankovitch cycles (i.e. the combined effects of eccentricity of Earth's orbit, slow variations in axial tilt (obliquity) and axial precession) and nothing to do with variations in the sun's output. I hope the book doesn't make this very elementary blunder otherwise it is just providing ammunition for those that say sceptics are simply cranks!

Sep 30, 2013 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

It's qute astounding that Fritz Vahrenholt is the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of RWE Innogy GmbH, parent company of RWE Npower Renewables, which company is profiting hugely and spreading misery across the UK from its existing and proposed wind farms which are supposed to tackle this hypothetical climate change.

His own company is one of those multi-nationals described in the book:

Scenting cheap profits courtesy of immense government grants to produce ‘renewable’ energy, a series of multi-nationals made clear their determination to climb on board the global warming express.

Sep 30, 2013 at 9:31 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Michel 7.33am

See this one from August, if this is the book you mean.

Sep 30, 2013 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Messenger: Yes, thanks, that was the one. I had missed the review for some reason. It gives an interesting historical perspective on the context of the movement. I had some reservations, but the detailed story of the haggling and confrontations at the meetings was very illuminating.

Sep 30, 2013 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

I was just reading about this book last week. It came up as one of "Amazon's suggestions", can't think why.

Google found this Telegraph article from last year, it has a comment re. Grreenpeace being involved in the IPCC review process:

Sep 30, 2013 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdrian Lamb


"5 million tonnes of energy"

Nice to have a real excuse to key E=mc^2 into the calculator.. :-)

(I get 4.5 x 10^26 W, which is a little hard to visualise!)

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:16 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Over the last 8,000 years or so, there has a period of unusually benign solar activity.

Meaningless jibberish. The one thing that the climatologists have taught me is to get the data. What data could possibly support the claim that the sun has been unusually benign the last 8,000 years? Thanks.

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRedbone


The combined research careers of my mentor - the late Professor Paul Kazuo Kuroda - and me showed the real dangers of government-funded <I>consensus models</I> after the tragic events of August 1945:

FEAR separated humans from the reality of mankind's connection with his Creator <I>via</I> invisible force fields emanating from the Sun's pulsar core.

See middle paragraph of this one page synopsis:


It is now abundantly clear:

1. Humans did not cause global warming. and

2. AGW policies increased our vulnerability to natural, solar-induced global cooling.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo

Sep 30, 2013 at 11:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterOliver K. Manuel

I bought a copy of The neglected Sun

Chapter 1 It's the sun, stupid !
Chapter 2 Climate catastrophe deferred - a summary
Chapter 3 Our temperamental sun
Guest contributor: Nir Shaviv
Solar forcing and twentieth century climate change
Chapter 4 A brief history of temperature: our climate in the past
Guest contributor: Nicola Scafetta
The forgotten 60 year cycle and its significance for the development of our climate
Chapter 5 Has the IPCC really done its homework ?
Guest contributor: Henrik Svensmark
Cosmic rays and clouds: experiments and observations
Chapter 6 The misunderstood climate amplifiers
Guest contributor: Werner Weber
Mining a treasure trove of 50-80 year old solar data: the unexpected atmospheric amplifier of solar activity
Chapter 7 A look into the future
Chapter 8 How climate scientists are attempting to transform society
Chapter 9 A new energy agenda emerges

This book is from the Independent mind series which also published , " When will the lights go out ? " By National Grid control engineer Derek Birkett. I wonder if Philip Bratby has read his book and agrees with most of it ? I wonder how many grid control engineers agree and if there are any points that would be debated ? Derek Birkett recommends coal power stations as an important part of the generation mix. He also thinks micro generation are just a nuisance to grid stability. Someone should send a copy to Ed Davey & Gregory Barker or better still replace those two with Derek Birkett & Philip Bratby. Taking into account the spinning reserve, how much less coal & gas were burned annually in UK powerstations 2012 with wind & solar on grid than were burned in 2000 ? Any less ? Is the supposed CO2 savings from wind & solar just an accounting trick that in any case only makes 1/5000th reduction to global emissions ?

Oct 2, 2013 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

The Neglected Sun p 386
Fritz Vahrenholt writes, " Until recently, a remarkable symbiosis between nuclear and renewable energy had been the plan. As renewable energy, and as wind and solar energy, takes precedence over other forms of energy, the resulting fluctuations in their output would be compensated by so-called balancing power. When winds are strong, the electricity generated exceeds demand; therefore , other sources of power can be reduced. When the wind abates, the other power plants need to be fired up and quickly. No technology can do this as well and on such a great scale as nuclear energy. Nuclear energy can be simply throttled down to 40 % of its capacity in a matter of minutes. Indeed, up to 10,000 MW of flexible power for balancing out the renewable energy output could be provided in Germany before the nuclear exit was announced in March 2011 "

Is this correct or is it spin ? Does it depend who is running the nuclear power station or on the individual design ?
I suppose it is not so much a question of what is possible but rather what is economically successful ? If UK had stuck only to gas, coal, nuclear, hydro then we might have become a tax haven compared to the rest of Europe ?

Oct 4, 2013 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

AGW is the weapon that backfired, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Here’s the rest of the story:

Oct 5, 2013 at 3:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterOliver K. Manuel

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