by Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder

Book Review by Michael R. Fox, Ph.D.

September 26, 2007

The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change
By Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder
Totem Books, 256 pages, $15.95

Michael R. Fox, Ph.D.This is an extremely important work, summarizing recent findings on the science of global warming. Svensmark and Calder’s book advances our knowledge of the workings of our solar system and its interactions with cosmic radiation, and offers plausible explanations of the history of the Earth hundreds of millions of year ago.

The research work by Svensmark and others at the Danish National Space Center has been innovative and cutting edge. As scientist Eugene Parker (discoverer of the solar wind) cites in the forward, Svensmark recognized the importance of cloud cover in the temperature control of the planet, since they are highly reflective of incoming light from the Sun. He also recognized that the individual water droplets that make up a cloud form mostly where ions (charged particles) have been created by passing cosmic ray particles. This then established the connection between cloud formation and cosmic radiation intensity. The more cosmic rays, the more clouds are formed, and the cooler the climate.

The Chilling StarsMany of us were baffled for years when seeing graphs of solar magnetic field strength overlain with extent of cloud cover. There was strong correlation but little explanation. The work of Svensmark has provided the answers. With supporting climate and physics data collected from experiments around the world are very plausible and compelling. Svensmark’s efforts synthesize and explain diverse observations of cosmic radiation, solar variations, cloud variations, with geological findings going back hundreds of millions of years. Obviously, this effort combines scientific skills from diverse backgrounds including particle and accelerator physics, astrophysics, cloud chamber physics, radiochemistry, and geology. In fact a new field has been defined and called cosmoclimatology.

While cosmic radiation has been known for a century it has usually been limited to discussions of science trivia. Interesting but of little importance. That has all changed. Cosmic radiation has had tremendous impacts on the earth and its inhabitants for hundreds of millions of years. We now know some of its direct effects on our climate and confirmed them in laboratory experiments. Comic rays enter the atmosphere and collide with molecules in the air creating electrically charged particles. These form the nuclei around which water vapor can condense and form droplets which in turn form clouds. More cosmic radiation more clouds, cooler temperatures. The final twist is that solar magnetism can deflect some of the cosmic radiation away from the earth causing somewhat fewer clouds. The solar magnetic field (distinct from solar irradiance) varies over the centuries which give rise to variations in cloud formation which in turn give rise in variations of global temperatures. The stronger the solar magnetic fields the fewer cosmic rays hitting the earth, thus creating fewer clouds, and causing warming.

Currently the solar magnetic field is more than twice as strong as it was 100 years ago, which is the likely cause of the 0.6C warming during that time. The sun goes on directly regulating our climate by modulating cosmic radiation rates of the Earth, which had not been appreciated until recently.

The real effects of man’s activities have to be reassessed, since the new findings can explain warming without invoking man-made CO2. For these reasons as author Nigel Calder states, grand computer forecasts of the climate are not to be trusted. These are exciting times in cosmoclimatology and galactic physics. To suggest that the “climate science is settled” is premature with no place in honest science.

Over the years I have admired British scientists for their writing skills and command of the English language. Nigel Calder, the co-author, certainly adds such skills to the readability of the technical text which makes the more attractive to a wider reading audience. This is a must read if you want to better understand the real environment around you and unravel the twisted claims of the global warming fiasco.

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.