Debunking a Partisan Lie on Climate Change: Unbiased America on Sun Activity

Unbiased America is a right-wing Facebook page that became active sometime in 2013 (though may have existed as early as 2010). It seemed decent in the early years, but sometime late 2014 or early 2015 it went off the rails and mutated into a rank partisan circle-jerk no more sophisticated than any other far-right source. Some of the more obvious examples of this partisanship and a blatant rejection of inconvenient facts are when they’ve posted on the topic of climate change. I am going to focus on a particularly egregious example.

In their original Facebook post they approach the topic the way all right-wingers do, leveling anti-intellectual attacks at scientists, referencing the “Little Ice Age” as if it was a global event when it was in fact a local event (which makes a huge deal of difference), and accompanying the whole intellectually dishonest package with a graph that appears to prove that the Earth’s temperature is controlled almost entirely by the sun. I addressed why the Little Ice Age talking-point UA brought up is abysmally wrong and misleading in another article, so I’ll content myself with addressing the deception of their picture for this one.

The first glaring problem is that they mendaciously edited the original graphic to say something it didn’t originally say. What UA renamed “Temperature Proxy” was originally labeled “beryllium-10 concentration,” which is a proxy of solar activity, not temperature. In other words, the original graphic compared two solar output proxies, not temperature to solar output. The one represented by a red line is the data extrapolated from historic observations, while the blue line is extrapolated from the beryllium-10 content in ice cores from Greenland.

Unbiased America (or whatever dishonest and unreliable source they got the graphic from) even erased the main label in the original picure that said “Solar Activity Proxies,” plural, meaning more than one proxy of solar activity. Editing the title at least showed UA was thorough in their doctoring of the picture.

You can find the original image that UA doctored at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Solar_Activity_Proxies.png It appears to have been around on the internet at least since 2006, well before UA’s post. The original picture seems to be based on data from two scientific studies by Douglas V. Hoyt and Kenneth H. Schatten in 1998. Unbiased America doctored their version of this picture, but even if they didn’t, it means they were seriously duped by whoever they got their graphic from. This duping was unnecessary because, had they done a modicum of fact-checking to track down the original data like I did, they would have seen that the image was fraudulent.

It basically boils down to this: UA fraudulently edited a graph to blame Climate Change on the Sun in order to perpetuate the right-wing myth that human action is not the cause of our current warming. I brought all of this to UA’s attention a long time ago, but instead of admitting they were wrong (as they irrefutably were), they just dug their heels in even more. They prefer to insult and call people who present inconvenient evidence trolls rather than respond in good faith and change their views based on new evidence.

If you want to know what historical temperatures were to compare them to solar output yourself, there are numerous sources from the most respected agencies around the world. Each addressing the short-comings of previous ones, and still come to the same, though more accurate, temperature conclusions. I made a fully cited blog post of the scientific data regarding this point.

It’s interesting that in UA’s post, they act as though we’re still waiting for the verdict to come in to know if solar output is the only cause of climate change. The verdict is already in because for over 40 years, solar activity has continued to diminish while temperature increases.

Categories Climate Change

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