A major scientific study is casting fresh doubt on the theory of man-made climate change. In fact, this latest research shows it may be something far beyond the control of humans.
Research by the prestigious European Organization of Nuclear Research supports the theory that periods of earth warming are caused by solar activity and so-called cosmic rays, rather than by human activity.
The findings of the landmark study, dubbed CLOUD, are rocking climate science.
Landmark study indeed!
The story is this:
The Earth is constantly being bombarded with cosmic rays, high-energy particles from exploding stars. The Svensmark Cosmic Ray Theory suggests that when these cosmic rays enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they help create clouds.
An active sun strengthens a magnetic shield around the Earth that lets fewer cosmic rays get through. If the sun is less active, more cosmic rays get through. And the more cosmic rays, the more clouds, and the cooler global temperatures will be.
RealClimate has a post which welcomes the science in the study:
All-in-all this is a treasure trove of results (and potential future results) for people tasked with trying to model or understand aerosol processes in the atmosphere.
But as to establishing cosmic rays as the cause of global warming, no cigar.
RealClimate has a good rundown of what Kirkby et al.’s results do and do not mean. The short version is that Kirkby et al. do find increased aerosol nucleation under increased ionization (i.e. “more cosmic rays”), particularly in the mid-troposphere, but the effect is smaller at warmer, lower levels where the cosmic ray-climate myth proponents claim it has its greatest climatic effect. Lead author Jasper Kirkby has tried to set the record straight, stating (all following emphases mine):
[The paper] actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it’s a very important first step.
While their results provide some confirmation of the potential mechanism by which GCRs might induce cloud nucleation, they in no way demonstrate that GCRs do significantly promote cloud formation in the real world, let alone support the myth that GCRs drive significant climatic change.
The post concludes:
Basically, what’s actually been demonstrated by Kirkby, et al. isn’t at odds with the IPCC. What is at odds with the IPCC hasn’t been demonstrated by Kirkby, et al. And the claims by Svensmark, Shaviv, and other ‘GCRs [galactic cosmic rays] drive climate’ proponents have been debunked at pretty much every step of the way. GCRs may have some influence on cloud behavior, but they’re not responsible for significant climatic changes now or in the geologic past.
Gavin at RealClimate says that for the Svensmark thesis to hold up “you would need to show that there was actually a decreasing trend in cosmic rays over recent decades – which is tricky, because there hasn’t been (see the figure)”:
The trend just isn’t there. Now look at this graph (from Pew Centre) on temperature and CO2:
It takes a special kind of mind to see cosmic rays as the dominant cause of global warming.