Author Topic: Global warming linked to cosmic rays  (Read 1202 times)


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Global warming linked to cosmic rays
« on: March 22, 2006, 12:22:17 PM »

OTTAWA - A prominent University of Ottawa science professor says what we know about global warming is wrong -- that stars, not greenhouse gases, are heating up the Earth.

Jan Veizer says high-energy rays from distant parts of space are smashing into our atmosphere in ways that make our planet go through warm and cool cycles.

The retired professor (he still holds a research chair and supervises grad students and post-doctoral fellows) knows that to challenge the accepted climate-change theory can lead to a nasty fight. It's a politically and economically loaded topic. Yet, he is speaking out -- a bit nervously -- about his published research.

"Look, maybe I'm wrong," he said in an interview. "But I'm saying, at least let's look at this and discuss it.

High-energy cosmic rays are hitting us all the time. This has been known for a long time. What's new is that a variety of researchers are asking what cosmic rays do to our world and its weather.

That includes a theory published last year by the Proceedings of the Royal Society arguing cosmic rays "unambiguously" form clouds and affect our climate.

Prof. Veizer is a leader in geochemistry -- learning about Earth's past by the chemistry preserved in rocks and sediments. The Royal Society of Canada called him "one of the most creative, innovative and productive geoscientists of our times."

He won the 1992 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, worth $2.2-million, the German government's highest prize for research in any field.

Yet, for years he held back on his climate doubts. "I was scared," he said. And he still is.

Still, he has published his theory in Geoscience Canada, the journal of the Geological Association of Canada. The article is called "Celestial Climate Driver: A Perspective from Four Billion Years of the Carbon Cycle."

In his paper, he concludes: "Empirical observations on all time scales point to celestial phenomena as the principal driver of climate, with greenhouse gases acting only as potential amplifiers."

The majority of climate scientists still firmly believe that greenhouse gases are to blame.

But Prof. Veizer felt uncomfortable with the idea that high levels of carbon dioxide alone are causing hot spells.

He looked to geology. As environmental conditions change, different "isotopes" of some chemicals form. These are slightly different forms of any element -- carbon, or oxygen, or less common substances such as beryllium. And these remain frozen in time in ancient rocks, or lake and ocean sediments, or glaciers. (Samples drilled from Antarctic ice go back more than 700,000 years, layer by layer.)

For Prof. Veizer, the idea is that cosmic rays hit gas molecules in the atmosphere and form the nucleus of what becomes a water vapour droplet. These in turn form clouds, reflecting some of the sun's energy back to space and cooling the Earth.

Yet the numbers of cosmic rays vary. Most come from younger stars, which are clustered at some regions in the galaxy through which our solar system has passed its 4.5-billion-year history. As well, our own sun deflects some of these rays away, but the sun's activity grows stronger and weaker. All these factors can change the number of cosmic rays that hit us.
The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist. - Charles Baudelaire (French and monstrous poet).


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Re: Global warming linked to cosmic rays
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2006, 05:30:48 PM »
This theory has quite a bit to support it. Well, the general theory of solar/cosmic cycles affecting terrestral temperature has been running around for a while. One of the better arguments I have seen is a correlation between sun-spot cycles and global temperatures. If one looks at fluctuations in sun-spot energy (how much they affect the sun's over all out-put, that is) and correlate it with global temperature averages, a fluctuation in sun-spot energy generally comes 3 months to a year before the resulting global temperature swing.

I have a sneeking suspicion that it isn't just one cause, but several, and regadless of if humans are the major cause or not, pollution is a major issue and needs to be curbed.
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