While watching Real Time with Bill Maher one of the panelist blurted out an irrelevant comment to the discussion at the time but needs addressing now. She asserted climate change is real but it is not caused by humans but rather caused by an increase in sunspots. This common claim from climate change skeptics enticed me to write the second installment of “Climate Change is Real” (check out part 1 here).
First, what are sunspots? Sunspots are actually cooler areas of the sun that create extremely hot areas around them. These hotter areas are called faculae and increase the brightness of the sun, which in turn increases the temperature on earth. So, yes sunspots can cause the earth to get warmer and a decrease in sunspots has caused the earth to get colder in the past (The Little Ice Age).
However, scientists are aware of sunspots and know they can cause an increase in global temperatures. In all the climate change models scientists account for these sunspots and have determined they are only responsible for 20 percent of the global increase in temperature. There have been multiple peer reviewed studies that conclude sunspots affect global warming but not significantly. The biggest contributor is… you guessed it, humans.
For now the sun needs to be let off the hook for climate change. In the past 30 years the sun has actually been cooling while we have seen global temperatures warming. Humans are causing this warming and until we admit that fact, nothing is going to get done about it.