Change Alley

information, opinion, conversation

Fjord Mud Predicts Global Cooling

with 30 comments

A research team from the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre has analyzed 5,000 years worth of mud from the bottom of fjords in Western Canada. Variations in concentration of fossilized fish scales and diatoms in the mud layers show strong and consistent patterns of marine productivity that correspond to cycles of solar output. In line with many other studies, measuring things like Russian tree rings or water levels in the Nile valley, this project demonstrates that the sun drives climate change.

However, despite this clear and repeated correlation, variations in incoming solar energy are not sufficient to cause the climate changes observed in the mud record. Moreover, increases in direct solar input are not large enough to cause the past century’s modest warming. For the sun to be a primary driver of climate change, there has to be an ‘amplifier’.

The ‘X factor’ is the change in cloud concentrations caused by variations in the intensity of galactic cosmic radiation in the atmosphere. Increased output from our sun leads to a stronger solar wind, which prevents cloud-enhancing cosmic rays from reaching the Earth’s atmosphere. More sunspots = Fewer cosmic rays = Less cloud cover = Global Warming. QED.

So there we have it. High-quality evidence stretching back far beyond the start of our industrial ‘civilisation’ suggests that solar activity is directly and indirectly responsible for both global warming and global cooling. Contrary to what Al Gore will tell you, the science of climate change is far from settled. While the boffins beaver away in the backroom, I’ll carry on turning off the lights when I leave the room, just in case. It can’t do any harm.

Read the Sunspots‘ – R. Timothy Patterson, Financial Post

Cosmoclimatology: a new theory emerges‘ – Henrik Svensmark

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Written by Pete Smith

June 21, 2007 at 7:23 am

Posted in Climate change, Oceans

30 Responses

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  1. The old cosmic ray theory has been knocking around for at least the last 5 years, and has been ‘disproved’ several times, but I’m not at all supprised it’s back ing the news again.

    As for GHG warming, some times it’s good to take a look at meat might be considered a simpler atmospheric system, that of Mars, with an atmosphere made up almost completely of CO2 but at 20C and nighttime temp of ~-80C in the summer. Compare that with the moons surface (it has no atmosphere), which swings between 120C and -150C. Its the greenhouse effect that keeps Mars at what could be considered habitable temperatures (techniologically speeking) so much further away from the Sun than we are.

    Stephan

    June 21, 2007 at 3:04 pm

  2. Why the quotation marks around the word “disproved” Stefan? Has the cosmic ray theory been disproved or not? References? The question I’m genuinely struggling with is, why do we see consistent correlations between solar activity and temperature over 5000 years when we’ve only been shaking the climate tree for the last 250?

    Do you really think it’s useful to conceptualise the Earth’s atmospheric system by comparing it with Mars and the Moon? Surely everyone knows we’d look pretty silly (and cold) if we lost our greenhouse effect overnight.

    Pete Smith

    June 21, 2007 at 4:07 pm

  3. Pete, you’ve just aligned yourself with the American right wing media;

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/blog_coverage/

    The blog hits on your post have just gone vertical.

    ‘Roger, ten-four, you’re on your own. Over & out’

    matt

    June 21, 2007 at 4:48 pm

  4. We are a broad church 😎

    Pete Smith

    June 21, 2007 at 5:42 pm

  5. Hi y’all,

    I am stunned! You mean, I’ve been correct all this time 😉

    As to turning out the lights, I do that because I hate our local utility company and don’t want to pay them one cent more than I have to. Oh, but if you have installed those new energy saving bulbs, you can’t turn them off and on very often as it shortens their life expectancy.

    the Grit

    the Grit

    June 21, 2007 at 6:32 pm

  6. Hi Pete,

    The ‘disproved’ was just to indicate that, as always, we should be wary of claims that an idea is proved OR disproved, as new data, and interpretations of those data, can breathe new life into an old theory. I have seen data on this as recently as last month, showing that any correlation between low cloud cover and cosmic ray intensities cannot be demonstrated over the past 15 years (the timeframe over which cosmic rays have been directly measured). Before that time a correlation has been demonstrated but only using proxy data for cosmic ray intensities. Maybe the data has been reassessed:)

    As for my Mars – Moon analogy, it was an attempt to get people thinking about the powerful effects that a thin covering of a GHG – only 10 times the total CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, can have on a planet (the recent discovery of areas where liquid water might still be flowing on Mars is a testament to that). The Moon was a distraction, it was a poor example borne of limited time to comment, and for that I apologise.

    Stephan

    June 21, 2007 at 6:49 pm

  7. Hi Stefan,
    “we should be wary of claims that an idea is proved OR disproved, as new data, and interpretations of those data, can breathe new life into an old theory”
    I completely agree. It seems to me that one of the motive forces behind the climate change deniers’ argument is that the pro-CC lobby are constantly “breathing new life” as theories and the underlying data are rejigged or re-assessed. A recurring theme among the anti-CC blogging community is “You said X a year ago, now you’re saying Y”. Surely, given the complexity of the subject, it’s not inconceivable that there is some substance in the cosmic ray/cloud-forming theory, and it only needs some more research to find it. The problem is getting funding.
    I don’t have an axe to grind one way or the other, I’m just trying to find a way through the entrenched positions.

    Pete Smith

    June 21, 2007 at 7:16 pm

  8. The whole problem with the theory that cosmic rays (or lack thereof) are driving global warming is that cosmic radiation has shown no trend over the last 50 years. This has led the Max Planck Institute to conclude that cosmic ray flux and temperature followed each other up to 1970 but there has been no correlation between temperature and cosmic ray flux since 1970. So even if cosmic rays are linked to cloud formation, all they’ll find is the cloud formation 50 years ago is similar to now and has little to no impact on the last 30 years of long term global warming.

    jfoc

    June 21, 2007 at 11:35 pm

  9. […] Fjord Mud Predicts Global Cooling [image] A research team from the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre has analyzed 5,000 years worth of mud from the […] […]

  10. Pete,

    You made 70th top post on WordPress across the WordPress blogging world yesterday.

    By courting with the paranoid and reactionary right wing bloggers.

    It’s like lighting touch paper isn’t it!

    Of course the topic of cosmic radiation and its affects on our climate are far to complex for most of us to understand. It’s a discussion with the blind leading the blind … into a dark alley.

    Piffle !

    matt

    June 22, 2007 at 6:58 am

  11. Matt,
    You’re the one who’s always bouncing with delight when we reach a new record high. Since things have been a bit slow recently, I thought I’d liven things up a bit and drag a few punters in off the street, as it were. I didn’t aim my post at any particular audience, and I deliberately tried to use a tone that would suggest I was at least non-committal about the science in the article.
    Namecalling and slapping labels on people won’t help persuade them to stay and take part in the debate. After all, our Mission Statement (which you wrote) does say this: “At The Coffee House we aim to inform, learn and encourage debate on environmental matters. Debate is an essential part of finding solutions to the many challenges facing our world. All readers are encouraged to join in.” Except “paranoid and reactionary right wing bloggers” it seems.
    Piffle! Really? As in, like, nonsense? Is that an informed critique, or a cry for help? Or your new signature?
    Pete

    Pete Smith

    June 22, 2007 at 7:48 am

  12. “I am stunned! You mean, I’ve been correct all this time”

    Grit my man, you’re right so often, you’ll have to remind us which time you’re referring to 🙂

    Pete Smith

    June 22, 2007 at 8:02 am

  13. Pete

    Paranoid and reactionary right wingers don’t do debate. They just shout. In their mind there’s no middle ground to come into to, which one eventually has to do if debate is to move constructively forward. Note none of those that support the theory have joined the debate, out of 400 hits.

    Unfortunately the US is full of right winger and left winger bloggers entrenched in their views. I’ve seen many of such sites and shouting at each other is the order of the day. Yes The Coffee House does debate, which is to our credit. It makes our site quite unique as debate appears to be a dying art.

    My comment is not a criticism of you but of the subject of ‘cosmic rays …’

    You have certainly livened things up to which you get a ‘Well Done Pete’ award.

    matt

    June 22, 2007 at 8:55 am

  14. Hi Matt,
    Agree totally about entrenchment amongst ‘left’ and ‘right’ (which am I, by the way? 🙂 ) They just get confused and aggressive if things get blurred and their positions of certainty are challenged. Not helped by the proliferation of bad or (more likely) misunderstood science as ‘proof’ in support of arguments.
    I’m not prepared to write off the cosmic ray theory just yet. The problem is that we don’t have direct historical data and have to rely on proxy indicators, which is problematic in itself. What we should be doing, right now, is measuring everything, everywhere, all the time, useful or not.
    Pete

    Pete Smith

    June 22, 2007 at 9:10 am

  15. Actually, matt, while all the particle physics of cosmic ray/cloud theory is mind blowing egghead stuff, the fact that there’s no correlation between cosmic rays and temperature is straightforward. Svensmark even has a graph in his paper correlating cosmic rays and temperature (it’s on page 6). Temperature and cosmic rays correlate reasonably well from 1955 to 1980. Then they suddenly diverge in completely opposite directions. There is absolutely no correlation between temperature and cosmic rays after 1980 – when the modern trend of global warming began. It’s quite extraordinary.

    jfoc

    June 22, 2007 at 9:11 am

  16. Hi jfoc

    I’m sure you’re right!

    My concern is a bit more outside the box of this discussion. Generally, while everyone argues about cause and effect we know the tipping points and positive feedbacks have kicked in big time at the poles and the Siberian permafrost.

    The CC deniers as they’re called will want to believe that the sun is largely responsible or something else from space (aliens even 🙂 ) for causing our planet to warm.

    I prefer to concentrate on mitigation discussions, adaptation discussions and positive solutions from politicians, business, scientists, NGOs, IGOs and citizen groups. This sort of discussion seems to be more prevalent in the UK than the US at the moment. It appears the UK discussion has matured to accepting CC is happening, that humans have caused it and now solutions/action is needed. But my judgement of the US discussion could be coloured by the unusual large, hardcore, right wing media and bloggers ‘community’ (?) that resides in the US. We luckily don’t have the same problem here at the moment. Having said that about the US, the business community there is now centrally engaged in finding and providing solutions to CC. There’s money to be made!

    CC deniers will say that mitigation discussions are a waste of time because something like cosmic rays are causing the problem and therefore we have no control. Then they’ll hop into their suv to buy a quart of milk 5 miles down the road, happy that their behaviour and excesses appear not to be part of the problem.

    So, for me it’s about focusing discussions where our energies can be most usefully directed! For me, discussion about cosmic rays causing CC are a distraction and a move backwards.

    matt

    June 22, 2007 at 10:22 am

  17. > Agree totally about entrenchment amongst ‘left’ and ‘right’ (which am I, by the way?

    Hard to say sometimes Pete. You’re a bit if a swinger!! 🙂

    matt

    June 22, 2007 at 10:23 am

  18. matt, it would be great to be discussing mitigation. But you’re wasting your breath if the person you’re discussing with doesn’t even think CO2 is causing global warming. It’s the old alcoholic syndrome. You have to realise you have a problem before you can solve it.

    jfoc

    June 22, 2007 at 10:37 am

  19. Hi jfoc,
    As I understand it no-one’s ever claimed a direct causal link between temperature and cosmic rays. The idea is that cosmic rays cause clouds which lead to cooling. There’s a list of other factors apart from cosmic rays that are potential influences on how clouds affect climate. If I were working in this field, rather than just an inquisitive layman, I’d be curious as hell to know why the temperature/cosmic ray correlation fell apart after 1980.
    Pete

    Pete Smith

    June 22, 2007 at 11:27 am

  20. My gut feeling (yeah I know, how scientific, not) is that there isn’t a single cause of climate change, but a basket of factors, some long-established, like solar activity cycles, some recent, like anthropogenic radiative forcing.
    The atmosphere is a mega-complex system, and it scares me that we don’t understand it. It scares me even more that we don’t understand that we don’t understand!
    We need to keep researching, measuring, talking, discovering. Otherwise, if we reduce our emissions to zero and temperatures don’t budge, someone’s going to look very silly.

    Pete Smith

    June 22, 2007 at 11:39 am

  21. Pete,

    > We need to keep researching, measuring, talking, discovering. Otherwise, if we reduce our emissions to zero and temperatures don’t budge, someone’s going to look very silly.

    Agree!

    jfoc,

    > It would be great to be discussing mitigation. But you’re wasting your breath if the person you’re discussing with doesn’t even think CO2 is causing global warming.

    Yes exactly. Which is why I don’t bother arguing with such people.

    matt

    June 22, 2007 at 12:15 pm

  22. Pete, you’re right, cosmic rays cause clouds which cool. So if there was a long term trend in decreasing cosmic rays over the last 40 years, there would be correlation and causation – a good case for cosmic rays being a significant contributor to global warming. But there is no correlation – cosmic rays have shown no long term trend. Even the causation is a little suspect as recent correlations between cosmic rays and clouds are looking a little shaky. But that’s a minor problem compared to the gaping chasm between cosmic rays trends and temperature trends.

    You’re also right that there are heaps of factors involved in climate change. Global dimming from sulfate pollution was a factor from 1950 till 1980 – the fact that global dimming fell in the 70’s and 80’s is why CO2 warming began in the mid 70’s. The sun may have played a small part in recent warming – it’s either showed no trend or a tiny upward trend. The fact that astrophysicists are bickering over whether this is a slight trend or not shows just how steady it’s been over the last few decades. But the major driving force has been CO2 – it’s the only forcing that has both correlation and causation with current temperature trends.

    jfoc

    June 22, 2007 at 12:56 pm

  23. Hi Pete,

    Well, you throw enough stuff out there, and something is bound to stick 🙂

    the Grit

    the Grit

    June 22, 2007 at 9:34 pm

  24. Hi jfoc,
    I’m running out of steam on this discussion. As I said before, I’m just an inquisitive layman on this subject, as I am on too many others for my liking 🙂 I’m struggling with the distinction between causation and correlation, terms which are often used with what seems a lack of precision.

    “cosmic rays cause clouds which cool” Yes, but …

    (a) Cosmic rays are not the only factor that cause clouds
    (b) Clouds can also cause warming. It depends on the type of cloud, how high they are, and what they contain.

    All in all, there are so many competing factors that need to be disentangled that I’m amazed anyone feels competent to make a definitive statement on anything in this field.

    Pete (keeping an open mind)

    Pete Smith

    June 23, 2007 at 11:12 am

  25. I strongly suggest that anyone who is truly interested in the issues in this discussion check out http://www.realclimate.org.

    Jim Satterfield

    June 23, 2007 at 4:43 pm

  26. Thanks Jim. I have stuck my head round the door of realclimate.org in the past, but without a genuine reason to be in there I found myself hurriedly and apologetically backing out again and closing the door softly after me. That is one hell of a resource, and it’s going to take me some time to make sense of it all.
    Pete

    Pete Smith

    June 23, 2007 at 4:58 pm

  27. Let me turn the discussion around for the believers of AGW. I’m sure you all have done research, looked at the IPCC data, no doubt have studied the NAOO data on sea levels, Investigated the solar flare data cycles for the past 150 yrs, has studied the correlations of CO2 vs. temperature , and has found that temperature rise precedes increase in CO2, has understood that the IPCC projections for sea level and temperature rises had to be diminished substantially from their 2001 prognostications, still not believe that the earth is not going through a natural cycle ?

    Please point to the data that shows the earths natural vacillations can be discounted. Please don’t say the Gore movie, I will be mighty disappointed. In fact I am expecting Gore’s next production to be “ GLOBAL WARMING – THE MUSICAL”.

    Would it shock you to believe that polar ice caps on Mars are receding from the time when man was actual able to observe the polar ice caps? Is this also AGW, or is it that insignificant thing in the sky we call the SUN?

    Would it shock you to believe that the North America as far down as the American Plains was encapsulated in an ICE sheet 1 mile thick as recent as 10,000-12,000 yrs ago? One mile thick!! Can you fathom that? It has since retreated well before the advent of the industrial revolution.

    Would it shock you to believe that sea levels several thousand years ago were 500 FT lower than then present? This was an enabling circumstance fro the original Americans to walk the land bridge across the Bering strait – sea levels had obviously started to rise due to the Hunter Gatherers gas powered Mastodons.

    So please produce the data, not some IPCC mouthpiece talking point, but data that invalidates the natural cycles of earth as a cause of climate change. We could then start debating the salient points which have led to the rather mild conclusions on sea levels and temp rises the IPCC have espoused

    The problem is that you cannot rationalize with the environmental radicals because every issue is hysteria, in which no contrarian debates are allowed; obviously, the science is “settled”. When this type of approach is taken, no rationale solutions can be derived. The left is not interested in the environment, only in stifling debate. The conclusions of the IPCC are far, far from being settled, but every spineless salivating politician is now seeing dollar signs from all the potential taxes they feel they are now morally obligated to collect, in the name of the environment. There is a distinction between environmental issues and Global warming. But you would be hard-pressed to identify that nuance among the press, or the many governments and institutions all jumping on the GW bandwagon. It would be naive to believe that altruism is the only motivating factor for theses parties, i.e. international governments whose only interest is in Uncle Sam dispensing out checks, every time an American turns on the lights, or the willingness of many scientists to compromise their scientific integrity, by issuing hyperbolic statements about the peril of the planet that they know to be BS and borderline absurd.

    We want to seek cleaner alternate energy sources- I’m all for that! But this religious fervency, with which the left has framed this issue, is morally repugnant, and bordering on McCarthyism. It is unfortunate that this brand of fear fanaticism has spread to the masses of people, whose unfortunate circumstances in life are now given a new focal point for their disenfranchisement. It is especially vile when the message is intended to magnify the fears of children, who are the most vulnerable to this propaganda. Because the majority of people cannot or are not inclined to delve in the specifics of the science, we are left to the mercies of mercenary scientists, who are paid handsome sums of grant money to perpetrate the climatological status quo”. Many are not even aware, that the IPCC report has downgraded their original assertions from the catastrophic scenarios originally espoused, to the more moderate predictions, which really should cause one to wonder- OK- what is the fuss all about? More and more, there is published data from other sources, other than IPCC, which show evidence that the causes of the warming have been incorrectly assigned toward humans. Again, do not count on the many members of the fourth estate to highlight these contradictions, since they are both lazy and complicit in the misdirection.

    The way the argument is framed, rather obnoxiously I would say, is “How can you not accept that the earth is warming?” Well, the argument should be positioned to ask “How can you not accept that earth is ever dynamic?” It is apparent to most scientists by now, that the claims from that ridiculous Gore movie, are way over the top, and most, sheepishly shy away from the outlandish claims made by Mr. Gore. He will perhaps find a better audience among the mis-informed pop culture icons and their worshipers. The unfortunate part of all of this, is that legitimate environmental concerns will not be properly addressed, while solutions to non-existent problems are approached with the typical politically correct demagoguery of the few, with no consideration of the consequences, intended or otherwise, to the lives of the billions of inhabitants of this planet. America is complicit in this hyperbole, by acquiescing to the diatribes of the more radicalized factions of greenies, bent on stifling scientific debate, and feeding the hysteria with messianic overtones. Our politicians are totally gutless, and adverse to any position, regardless of principles, that will make them appear as though they are questioning the tenants of AGW. The greenies and the radical left have succeeded in shaping the argument to make it seem that debating AGW is akin to questioning the purity of mom, apple pie, or the loyalty of a fine dog. Long Live Political correctness.

    Therer are so many sites that question the conclusions of the messianic GW crowd. Please check the CO2 science link for a very valid argument against Dr Hansen’s conclusions.

    http://www.co2science.org/scripts/CO2ScienceB2C/Index.jsp

    http://www.john-daly.com/links.htm

    http://members.lycos.nl/errenwijlens/co2/errenvsluterbacher0.htm

    urbanblue

    June 24, 2007 at 11:04 pm

  28. Thank you for your essay ‘urbanblue’ which you’re no doubt furiously cutting & pasting throughout blog world.

    Firstly, to see the Climate Change debate, as its called outside of America, as a left wing/right wing argument is pure stupidity. It serves to frame your comments as hysterical and my advice to you, if you want to be listened to, would be to step away from this approach.

    To answer some of your comments;

    >There is a distinction between environmental issues and Global warming. But you would be hard-pressed to identify that nuance among the press, or the many governments and institutions all jumping on the GW bandwagon.

    There is a lot of press given over to GW or CC but if you’re actually interested in other environment issues you will find them on all good networks & newspapers. As GW/CC is an issue linked to so many other environmental issues it is understandable that it’s getting press. It is getting up to an almost religious fervour but that’s probably because the bible is full of similar stories of flash floods and widespread disease & hunger. Perfect fodder for the American bible belt and that US invention, the mad evangelist.

    >It is apparent to most scientists by now, that the claims from that ridiculous Gore movie, are way over the top, and most, sheepishly shy away from the outlandish claims made by Mr. Gore. The unfortunate part of all of this, is that legitimate environmental concerns will not be properly addressed ….

    I’d call Gore’s movie eco-pop. As soon as I saw claims of sea levels rising by 20 ft I switched off. But there is a reason that Gore’s movie comes across as it does; it’s made for the American audience who only listen to sensationalist and extreme rhetoric. It serves the purpose of drawing in the wandering American mind and fixing their focus on GW/CC in general.

    Now the debate must move on in America from that movie. But unfortunately, unlike here in the UK, it’s doubtful that it will (oh, except in venture capitalist circles where they’ve already realised there’s money to be made from GW). 🙂

    matt

    June 25, 2007 at 6:35 am

  29. Matt,

    Believe it or not they are original thoughts and not blog entries.

    I am not a climatologist( but I play one on TV), but I have spent my entire working life in science, and I cannot believe the degree of obfuscation and – yes hysteria some “mainstream scientists” have foisted on those scientists with opposing views of cause and effect. There have been outlandish claims in all fields of science assigning GW as a culprit for virtually every natural cycle and oscillations the good earth has produced. You know this to be true, by reading headlines across the globe. Yet no scientific basis is to be found for the claims. They can barely prove which the cause is, and which is the effect, in the relationship between CO2 and warming.

    You should read the CO2science.org dissertation breaking down point by point the claims made by James Hansen to congress. It’s about a 28 page document, but you can down load it as a PDF file.

    There was one interesting debate that occurred, I would say about 6 weeks ago on public radio (NPR) – I would say it caters to a politically left crowd. The audience members were privy to a debate between three well respected IPCC scientists, who advanced the theory of AGW, and two scientists, and a writer who disagreed with that assumption. The crowd was polled prior to the debate and the numbers reflected the following:

    58 % – believed AGW
    32 % – did not
    10 % – did not know.

    After the debate

    33 % – believed AGW
    56 % – did not
    11 % – did not know

    The point – is that when a debate actually occurs, and point and counter point is made, the conclusions made by the extremities of the AGW movement (Gore included), are not so convincing in the light of all the scientific evidence.

    urbanblue

    June 26, 2007 at 12:36 am

  30. Urbanblue

    It would be interesting to hear that debate on NPR. I’ll see if I can track it down.

    matt

    June 26, 2007 at 5:51 am


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