When Physics Trumps Hysteria in Global Warming
by Michael R. Fox, Ph.D.
Studiously hidden from public view are some extraordinary findings in physics which are providing new understanding of our planetary history, as well as providing a much more plausible scientific understanding of global warming. Regrettably, the current hysteria about global warming is based much more on fear, political agendas, and computer models that don’t agree with each other or the climate, rather than hard-nosed evidence and science.
The climate forces which have led to the estimated 0.6C degree temperature increase over the past 100 years or more (according to the International Panel on Climate Change) have been assumed to be man-made CO2 emissions from advanced nations including the U.S. We know this can’t be true for several reasons.
The first is that water vapor provides 95 percent of the total of the greenhouse gases, not CO2. The total of the CO2 represents less than 3 percent of the total. The second is that of the total atmospheric CO2 inventory, the manmade fraction is less than 3 percent of the CO2 total and therefore far less than 1 percent of the total greenhouse gas inventories. Third, studies of the recent climate variations are finding, for example, (See article by J. Oestermans, Science, p. 375, April 29, 2005) that glaciers have been receding since 1750 or so, well before any significant man-made CO2 emissions occurred.
The mid 1700s were at the very depths of the Little Ice Age, which we have learned was the coldest climate over the last 5000 years. Obviously, other warming forces were at work before humans had anything to do with it.
It seems more logical that natural forces are still at work with warming and cooling our climate. For example, Fred Singer and Dennis Avery pointed out in their book Unstoppable Global Warming that over the past 1,000,000 years in climate observations, there have been about 600 periods of warming, and we can surmise from these cycles that among them are about 599 periods of cooling.
Now we have learned much more based upon observations of cosmic radiation, their sources, and the Sun’s magnetic fields, combined and new discoveries in the laboratory. A new and more comprehensive understanding of our planetary environment has emerged. This gives us a scientifically defensible explanation of both global warming and cooling.
As the Oesterman study of the 250 years of receding glaciers shows, warming preceded the CO2 increases of the 20th century. That is, man-made CO2 was not significantly involved in this 200 year warming period on the earth. Nor does man-made CO2 explain those 600 periods of warming over the past 1,000,000 years.
We have known that cosmic radiation is a source of very powerful radiation, more powerful than any in those huge manmade accelerators. We also know that the more energetic cosmic rays can reach the surface of the Earth passing completely through the atmosphere. Those of lesser energy can collide with molecules in the air causing an avalanche of nuclear and particle fragments as they pass through the atmosphere. The energy is dispersed in showers of these particles while still in the atmosphere.
These collisions are truly nuclear in nature, highly energetic, and take place in our atmosphere every second. These are the nuclear processes by which the atmosphere acts as a protective shield to inhabitants on the earth. These are well known to airline safety experts, as well as to those astronauts who spend weeks and months outside of our protective atmosphere.
The streams of cosmic radiation originate from deep space sources both within our galaxy, the Milky Way, as well as from galaxies more distant.
Most of the cosmic rays are charged particles (mostly protons) but less prevalent heavier particles are often measured too, and can be of enormous energy. Being charged particles they can be deflected and modulated by the many magnetic fields found in space. In the proximity of our Sun and the solar system incoming particles “feel” the magnetic field of the Sun and are deflected.
The extent of the deflection depends upon the strength of the magnetic field of the Sun. The solar magnetic field has been known, studied, and measured for only a few decades. As with other stars, the Sun is able to deflect many, but not all, of these particles of cosmic radiation away from our solar system and our planet according to well-known rules of physics and magnetism.
Thanks to some recent excellent experimental work in physics by those such as Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark, we now know that cosmic rays and some of the debris from nuclear collisions with atoms in the atmosphere are directly involved with the initiating mechanisms of cloud formation.
Basically, the more cosmic rays, the more clouds are formed and the cooler the temperature. Since many of the cosmic rays can be deflected by the Sun’s magnet field, the cosmic ray intensity varies inversely with the strength of that field. The stronger the solar magnetic field, the fewer cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, fewer clouds are formed, and the climate becomes warmer.
Today the Sun’s magnetic field is more than twice as strong as it was at the turn of the last century. During the mid 1700s during the Little Ice Age there was a 70 year period when there were no sunspots (called the Maunder Minimum), and the solar magnetic field was very weak.
The cosmic rays were not deflected as much by a weakened solar magnetic field, more clouds were formed, thus a cooler climate at that time. These findings provide a simple plausible explanation, defensible with sound physics, and don’t involve a major role for CO2 at all.
Some of the materials formed in the atmosphere by the cosmic ray collisions are radioactive as well, and are one of many natural sources of radioactivity. These are deposited in the Earth’s surface, and are used to construct a very accurate history of the geology and climate millions of years ago. It can be measured with surprising accuracy.
In this instance some important collision products formed in the upper atmosphere, are carbon-14 (C-14) and berrylium-10 (Be-10). Being radioactive they decay into non-radioactive products. These have accurately known periods of decay and scientists can measure these materials in both ice cores and geologic cores samples.
The amounts measured are directly related to many important natural features. Variations in both C-14 and Be-10 can be used to deduce the historical record of variations in the solar magnetic field. By similar techniques the scientists are able to determine variations in the cosmic radiation rates directly, going back hundreds of millions of years. Since the rate of influx of cosmic rays over time has not been constant, our climate has not been constant either.
What lies ahead are some exciting times in climate physics and our understanding of the environment. Unexplained findings in geological and climate histories are now being explained by these new lines of inquiry. It appears that the Sun’s magnetic field has had a stronger effect on our climate than just the variations in solar irradiance could explain.
Political leaders, environmental advocates, and even Oscar-winning documentarians who claim that “the debate of climate science is over”, have been shown once again to be very wrong.Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., a science and energy reporter for Hawaii Reporter and a science analyst for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, is retired and now lives in Eastern Washington. He has nearly 40 years experience in the energy field. He has also taught chemistry and energy at the University level.