Cosmic Rays Still Changing Climate More Than Mankind Does
I flippantly refer to my colleague Ray Blanco as “Cosmic Ray” for several reasons. One reason is that he built his own Wilson cloud chamber when he was a child. Cloud chambers detect ionizing radiation of the type that arrives on Earth from cosmic sources. I used to take a Geiger counter with me on airline flights, by the way, just to watch radiation levels climb as the jet did. These days, I’m afraid it would arouse suspicion, so the Geiger counter stays at home.
I think it’s fascinating to ponder the fact that right now, cosmic rays originating in vastly distant astronomical events are passing through our bodies. We live, in fact, in an ocean of radiation, but the effects have barely begun to be studied.
You may have noticed, if you follow scientific news, that the results of the CERN CLOUD experiment have been published in the journal Nature. A lot of us have been waiting for these results for a long time. The reason is that global temperature records show a very clear correlation with levels of cosmic radiation that impact the earth and its atmosphere. Models, however, have not been able to explain this phenomenon.
In fact, the correlation is inverse. In other words, cosmic radiation has been high historically in times of low global temperatures. This, in turn, is related to solar activity. High levels of solar magnetism block cosmic rays. Therefore, it is hypothesized that cosmic rays during periods of low solar magnetic activity play an increased role in cloud formation. Clouds reflect sunlight, so the Earth cools. When there is high solar activity, which is marked by sunspot activity, cosmic rays are blocked, so fewer clouds form. Theoretically, this would result in global warming.
Because climate science has been politicized to an utterly ridiculous extent, it’s been very difficult to get government-funded scientists to talk about this possibility. The environmental-industrial complex, which consumes billions in tax-provided research funds, is completely vested in the notion that human or anthropogenic activities are the major cause of global increases in temperature, though we’ve seen none of this temperature rise in the last 15 years or so.
Those who hold the contrary position have far fewer resources at their disposal and are at a significant disadvantage in the climate debate. The primary proponents of the cosmic ray theory include Henrik Svensmark, a physicist at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen, and his colleagues.
When British particle physicist Jasper Kirkby proposed that CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, test theories tying cosmic rays to climate change, the U.N. and others committed to the CO2 climate change theory immediately dismissed the experiments as irrelevant. Now the first round of experimental results has been released, along with orders from CERN brass NOT to interpret the results.
As I’m under no such prohibition, however, I’ll tell you one thing for sure. Climate science is not settled science. Though the CLOUD study only involved two aerosol gases, sulfuric acid and ammonia, the basic theory that cosmic rays can breed the particles that seed clouds has gained serious credence. Further tests with additional naturally occurring aerosols will reveal much more about the true nature of climate fluctuations.
From Kirby’s published article:
“Ion-induced nucleation [cosmic ray action] will manifest itself as a steady production of new particles [molecular clusters] that is difficult to isolate in atmospheric observations because of other sources of variability but is, nevertheless, taking place and could be quite large when averaged globally over the troposphere [the lower atmosphere].”
These findings, along with other recent discoveries, have shown that the climate model currently used to justify massive government intervention is painfully incomplete. Ironically, I think that the current Great Recession has contributed to the consideration of these findings. When the economy was strong, there was much less resistance to expensive C02-reducing technologies and policies.