Cosmic ray flux zaps pro-Kyoto types
New study puts paid to overheated theories on climate change
Friday 4 July 2003
It's the sun. And apparently the stars, too. But that shouldn't surprise anyone, since the stars after all are just other planets' suns.
Fluctuating levels of solar and stellar radiation are the cause of climate change on Earth, not rising carbon dioxide levels. Ebbs and flows in the sun's energy raise and lower Earth's temperature far more than CO2 ever could, according to an extensive new study by Jan Veizer, a University of Ottawa geologist and paleoclimatologist, and Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Also, as our solar system passes through the galaxy's star nurseries -- the coiling, cloudy tentacles of the Milky Way where there are dozens of infant stars -- Earth absorbs unusually high levels of cosmic radiation. According to Veizer, ups and downs in this radiation -- a variation known as the cosmic ray flux -- "is linked to climate variability." At least 66 per cent of the swings in temperature, violent weather and precipitation to which Earth is periodically subjected "is likely due to solar system passages through the spiral arms of the galaxy."
These findings correspond to those reached by a growing number of scientists -- at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institute, at the European Space Agency and the renowned Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, at the Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity in Nova Scotia and a variety of Canadian and international universities -- that all the warming Earth has experienced in the past 150 years can be traced back to the sun and its activities.
Most convincingly, Veizer and Shaviv reached the same conclusions before they even knew one another. Veizer was finishing off his research last September, when he received an e-mail from Shaviv suggesting they compare notes.
Both had examined climate changes dating back as much as 500 million years, independently of each other. Yet when they met in Toronto last October and laid their graphs one on top of the other, they were "awfully surprised" by the near match.
In interviews, Prof. Veizer is quick to add that he does not rule out carbon dioxide as a "driver" of global warming. "There may be such an increase in CO2 that it may take over some time in the future ... I don't think so, but I don't know."
His study is less equivocal, though. In it, he and Prof. Shaviv argue the "warming effect of CO2 ... is potentially lower" than predicted by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the so-called overwhelming majority of scientists that is said to believe in the CO2-warming theory.
Three years ago, after one of the most thorough studies ever of the possible correlation between CO2 and climate change -- one funded by our blindly pro-Kyoto federal government -- Veizer concluded that rising CO2 levels followed rises in the Earth's temperature, not the other way around. "Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were not the principal driver of climate variability," he wrote then.
At most, Veizer and Shaviv calculate that CO2 might raise ocean temperatures by 1.9 C. Might. While that is a considerable warming, it is far from the 5 C to 8 C warming predicted by the global warming climate models cited by the UN and by Canada's own federal government.
Actually, most of the pro-Kyoto scientists claim CO2 will raise temperatures by only about as much as Veizer and Shaviv have predicted. The pro-Kyoto types are able to reach their hellfire-and-brimstone, call-in-the-UN-bureaucrats-to-save-the-planet levels of 5 C to 8 C only because they control all the inputs on their elaborate computer models, so they have added things called "feedbacks" to their computations.
The computer models -- which, so far, are the only places where global warming has been "proven" -- all rely on unknown mechanisms that magnify the CO2-forced warming they predict.
Most of these supercomputer projections see a doubling of carbon dioxide by this time next century. This doubling raises global temperatures by less than 2 C, but the climate modellers then insist that this rise triggers some as yet unknown feedbacks (likely clouds and increased water vapour) that then raise temperatures an additional 3 C to 6 C.
However, the increase in atmospheric CO2 witnessed since widespread industrialization has taken us nearly halfway to a total doubling of CO2. Yet warming in the past century and a half has been less than 1 C, when, if the modellers were correct, it should have been 2 C to 3 C.
Also this week, Dr. Madhav Khandekar, a former Environment Canada climatologist, revealed that "in the higher latitudes of the northeast, from Baffin Bay to Labrador, extreme cold spells have increased in the last 50 years." Far from warming, Canada's Arctic is at least maintaining its iciness.
Although studying different phenomenon than Khandekar, Igor Polyakov of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks came to a related conclusion. By combing through every weather record he could find from remote weather stations, exploratory expeditions, Christian missions and police outposts, he and his team announced last December that the Arctic had actually cooled since the 1920s.
Arctic snows, too, are increasing, not decreasing as the climate computers had guessed.
Thankfully, Ottawa seems to have lost its interest in Kyoto, because there are increasing doubts about the global warming science.
Columnist, Edmonton Journal
Editorial Board Member, National Post