In Aspen Daily News, columnist Richards repeated debunked assertion that sun is causing global warming

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Business columnist Archie Richards Jr. falsely claimed in the June 13 Aspen Daily News that "the sun's transmission of energy" was primarily responsible for global climate change. In arguing against "sink[ing] a lot of money into companies involved with global warming and alternate fuels," Richards stated that "the idea that man is causing the earth to warm will be considered a joke" in a few years.

In a column arguing against the investment value of companies involved with "alternative energy sources" published in the June 13 Aspen Daily News, business columnist and financial adviser Archie Richards Jr. falsely claimed that climate change was "caused mostly by fluctuations in the sun's transmission of energy." In fact, as Colorado Media Matters has noted, the argument that the sun -- and not human activity -- is primarily responsible for current climate change echoes a misleading conservative talking point that rejects overwhelming scientific consensus.

Richards' column argued against investing in "companies developing alternative forms of energy" and warned readers not to "sink a lot of money into companies involved with global warming and alternative fuels." Richards also asserted that in the near future "the idea that man is causing the earth to warm will be considered a joke." To support his argument against investing in alternative energy, Richards falsely claimed the "variations" in climate change we see today are "caused mostly by fluctuations in the sun's transmission of energy":

Take it for granted that five or ten years from now, the idea that man is causing the earth to warm will be considered a joke. Yes, the earth has been warming since the mini-ice age that peaked around 1650. But variations of this nature are caused mostly by fluctuations in the sun's transmission of energy.

Fairly rapid warming occurred from 1850 to 1940, before the U.S. started injecting a lot of carbon dioxide into the air. From 1940 to 1980, when we emitted CO2 by the ton, the earth cooled. In the last four years, when China and India have started throwing off carbon dioxide big time, the earth has again cooled.

However, as Colorado Media Matters has noted, in examining whether changes in solar activity might be responsible for recent warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found a substantial "rise in solar forcing during the early decades of the 20th century," but not in later decades, contradicting Richards' claim that during the period between 1940 and 1980 when "we emitted CO2 by the ton" climate change was "caused mostly by fluctuations in the sun's transmission of energy." The IPCC was created to provide policymakers with "an objective source of information about the causes of climate change, its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts, and possible response options." Its reports are issued by several hundred climate experts representing "universities, research centers, business and environmental associations and other organizations from more than 100 countries."

Media Matters for America also noted a 2004 study conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research that similarly concluded solar brightness "plays only a minor role in the current global warming." According to a Max Planck Society press release, the study concluded that "the Sun can be responsible for, at most, only a small part of the warming over the last 20-30 years" and "the Earth's temperature has risen dramatically in the last 30 years while the solar brightness has not appreciably increased in this time."

Further, Richards' claim that "[i]n the last four years ... the earth has again cooled" is false. The 2006 climate report by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center states: "The global annual temperature for combined land and ocean surfaces in 2006 was +0.54°C (+0.97°F) above average, ranking 5th warmest in the period of record." Additionally, Colorado Media Matters has noted the fact that the years 2001-2005 were five of the six warmest years on record; the other was 1998. According to an analysis of "global-mean surface temperature[s]" last revised January 12, 2006, by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, "It is no longer correct to say that 'most global warming occurred before 1940' ":

Record warmth in 2005 is notable, because global temperature has not received any boost from a tropical El Niño this year. The prior record year, 1998, on the contrary, was lifted 0.2°C above the trend line by the strongest El Niño of the past century.

Global warming is now 0.6°C in the past three decades and 0.8°C in the past century. It is no longer correct to say that "most global warming occurred before 1940". More specifically, there was slow global warming, with large fluctuations, over the century up to 1975 and subsequent rapid warming of almost 0.2°C per decade.

Recent warming coincides with rapid growth of human-made greenhouse gases. Climate models show that the rate of warming is consistent with expectations. The observed rapid warming thus gives urgency to discussions about how to slow greenhouse gas emissions.

From the June 13 Aspen Daily News column "Avoid Adding Clean-Energy Investments to a Portfolio" by Archie Richards Jr.:

Solar energy merits development, certainly. But alternative biofuels don't. Ethanol, for example, requires more energy to produce than it supplies. It's more expensive than gasoline, throws off nasty toxins, and creates smog. It also raises food costs, especially for poverty-stricken Mexicans, making them want to emigrate to America all the more.

Take it for granted that five or ten years from now, the idea that man is causing the earth to warm will be considered a joke. Yes, the earth has been warming since the mini-ice age that peaked around 1650. But variations of this nature are caused mostly by fluctuations in the sun's transmission of energy.

Fairly rapid warming occurred from 1850 to 1940, before the U.S. started injecting a lot of carbon dioxide into the air. From 1940 to 1980, when we emitted CO2 by the ton, the earth cooled. In the last four years, when China and India have started throwing off carbon dioxide big time, the earth has again cooled.

Most alternative energy sources are more expensive than oil and coal and much more expensive than my favorite source, nuclear.

The U.S. has several centuries of oil left. Even though oil companies suffered tremendous damage from Hurricane Katrina, not a drop of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. government's prevention of companies from exploring for oil in the continental shelves and in Alaska is outrageous.

Within a few decades, solar receptors will be far more efficient than they are now. Huge banks of receptors in space will gather most of the energy we need from the sun and beam it by microwave to earth.

Don't sink a lot of money into companies involved with global warming and alternate fuels. If you can't resist, do so with only 5 percent of your money. For the vast bulk of your funds, stick to broad-based ETFs.

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