Oz Blog News Commentary

Barnaby’s lost marbles

November 16, 2019 - 14:36 -- Admin

Although it has been
dealt with elsewhere1, this bizarre rant from Barnaby Joyce was just
too hilarious to pass up. Surprisingly, Joyce initially said he accepted that the
climate crisis was making Australia hotter and drier, which is a first for him.
He had previously claimed that climate change was “an
indulgent and irrelevant debate because, even if climate change turns out to
exist one day, we will have absolutely no impact on it whatsoever”. He has also
said that he was “always sceptical [that] anybody’s going to change the

You may have actually
heard it before, but if not, then it might be wise to sit down, or if unable to
do so, to hold onto something solid to support yourself. However, in this latest
brain-fart, Barnaby was not wishing to cave in to reality completely, and was flailing
around in the hope of finding someone else to blame for all the bushfires. In
this, Barnaby Joyce has found another target: it’s the Sun. If you have
recovered your composure, I’ll relate what he actually said, despite it being
largely incomprehensible: “There are a range of things
that affect the climate and on a global scale, you should be part of it, and
acknowledge it would have an effect and I acknowledge that there are other
issues as well… There’s just the oscillation of the seasons. There’s a change
in the magnetic field of the sun.”1

Scientists generally
are fairly circumspect about how they describe such views, because they know
much more about the topic than almost all members of the general public and certainly
all members of federal parliament. Thus, Associate Professor Nerilie Abram, a
climate scientist at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate
Extremes, called Joyce’s comments “ludicrous and grossly ill-informed”. She
added that she didn’t “know of any scientific study that says that”, and that
variations in the sun’s magnetic field had a minute effect on the earth’s
climate, and are not causing climate change. Associate Professor Pete Strutton
from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of
Tasmania, said it was difficult to analyse Joyce’s ‘claim’ “because it is so
wacky”. He added: ”We know what causes climate change”1.

The sun has what is
called ‘the solar cycle’ in which the polarity of the sun’s magnetic field reverses
about every 11 years. This means that the north and south poles of the sun’s
magnetic field swap places5. The earth’s magnetic field does the
same but the timing of the change in the Earth’s polarity is irregular6.
However, it is not the changes in the sun’s magnetic field, but variations in
the sun’s irradiance (the amount of radiation coming from the sun) which were
of interest to those scientists initially studying climate change. Since it is the
Sun’s energy that drives the weather system, scientists naturally wondered
whether they might connect climate change with solar irradiance. However, the
Sun seemed to be stable over the timescale of human civilization. Attempts to
discover cyclic variations in weather and connect them with the 11-year solar
cycle, or other possible solar cycles ranging up to a few centuries long, gave
results that were ambiguous at best. A 1976 study demonstrated that irregular
variations in solar surface activity, a few centuries long, were connected with
major climate shifts. However, the mechanism was uncertain. The next crucial
question was whether a rise in the Sun’s activity could explain the global
warming seen in the 20th century? By the 1990s, there was a tentative answer:
minor solar variations could indeed have been partly responsible for some past
fluctuations but recent continuous warming from the rise in greenhouse gases far
outweighed any solar effects7. This has become
clearer in recent decades as the warming of the earth has been decoupled from
the solar irradiance. The radiation from the sun is decreasing, but the Earth continues

It is hilarious that
halfwits like Barnaby Joyce seem to believe that they can read any garbage on
the internet and in so doing can glean an insight that climate scientists have
somehow missed. Climate scientists have been studying this stuff for many decades,
and almost all of them would have vastly more knowledge and vastly greater
intelligence than Barnaby Joyce. Unlike Abram and Strutton, who are constrained
by lack of anonymity, I am not, so I can say what I like about Barnaby Joyce.
His idiocy is greater than most other right wing nut jobs, and knowing what to
say about him and his monumental stupidity is difficult without resorting to
expletive laced abuse. He is so stupid, I suspect he could be a stupid person’s
image of an even stupider person. Given the bizarre nature of this brain-fart,
it is quite possible that he has lost his marbles. In addition, it makes you
wonder about the competence of the people who vote for him.