New Report Calls into Question ‘Man-Made’
By Kevin Mooney, Staff Writer
August 26, 2008
(CNSNews.com) – New scientific evidence suggests there is a stronger link between solar activity and climate trends on Earth than there is with greenhouse gases, Fred Singer, an atmospheric and space physicist, told CNSNews.com.
The new data call into question whether scientific evidence shows that global warming is a man-made phenomenon and suggests that natural forces, as opposed to human activity, may drive global climate change.
Singer is one of many scientists who say recent scientific observations have determined that “solar variability” – or fluctuations in the sun’s radiation – directly affects climate change on Earth.
“In the broad sense, the Earth’s climate is determined by solar radiation,” Singer said. “If the radiation changes, so will the general climate.”
Singer said scientists have long theorized that changes in the sun’s activity also impact the amount of cosmic rays reaching the earth – affecting the Earth’s cloudiness and thereby the climate.
Cosmic rays are high energy particles of extraterrestrial origin that collide at almost the speed of light with atoms in the upper atmosphere of the earth.
The hypothesis is underpinned by the idea that variations in the sun’s irradiance – electromagnetic energy emitted by the sun that reaches earth’s surface – translate into climate changes on Earth in two key ways: 1) cosmic rays create either more or fewer low, cooling clouds in our planet’s atmosphere; and 2) ozone changes driven by solar activity in the stratosphere create varying degrees of heating in the lower atmosphere.
(Ozone refers to oxygen atoms that protect the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Ozone occurs naturally in the stratosphere, which is the upper atmosphere.)
Recent experiments that have been performed using weather balloons and satellites actually confirm the hypothesis, he said.
“There is now little doubt that solar-wind variability [streams of ionized gases that radiate out from the sun] is the primary cause of climate change on a decadal time scale,” Singer said.
The stronger the solar wind, the more the earth is shielded from cosmic rays, he explained.
Singer said the key to understanding the impact of the sun’s changes on Earth’s climate is time – many scientists only take account of the sun’s long-term effects.
“We are not concerned about hundreds of thousands of years or (millennia). We are concerned about decades [in the study], because we are interested in what fits the human life span,” he said. “It looks as if solar activity, not solar radiation itself, determines what happens with the climate.
The impact of solar variability is explained in a report Singer co-authored and edited in cooperation with other scientists for the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which also claims that the mathematical models upon which the United Nations bases its “global warming” assessment are “pre-programmed” to produce results that substantiate the notion of “anthropogenic” (or man-made) global warming.
The report, “Nature, Not Human Activity Rules the Climate,” has helped open the way for scientists to perform meaningful research in areas that have been largely unexplored and under-emphasized in previous studies, Singer said in the interview.
For example, he said, there are research efforts now underway that set about to examine the connection between cosmic rays and cloud formation presumed in the sun-climate theory.
This is the kind of scientific endeavor that has gone missing in government studies that assume human activity predominates over natural influences, Singer continued. Although it was long assumed that the sun was a constant star, one that did not experience any variability (changes) in its irradiance, this has turned out not to be the case.
To the extent that it does look at solar variability at all, which is limited, the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been “disingenuous” in its approach to solar variability by virtue of focusing on relatively minute solar cycle changes that overlook cosmic rays, the Singer report suggests.
There are some significant solar changes involving solar wind, for instance, that have ramifications for Earth’s climate, which are de-emphasized in the IPPC studies, he said.
“By disregarding or ignoring the very much larger changes of solar ultraviolet or of the solar wind and its magnetic-field effect on cosmic rays and thus on cloud coverage, the IPCC has managed to trivialize the climate effects of solar variability,” Singer’s non-government report states.
Moreover, there is large separation between the “fingerprints” of global warming that researchers can actually observe in the atmosphere and the “fingerprints” predicted by scientific models, Singer said. Any warming that follows from greenhouse gases would appear in the form of warming that increases with altitude, his report explains.
However, the observations derived from satellites and balloons actually show “no increasing warming, but a slight cooling with altitude” in the zone of the atmosphere where greenhouse gas theories anticipate warming, Singer said.
The U.N.’s (IPPC) authors avoided “connecting the dots” and making the appropriate observations, despite having all the necessary data because the end result would run counter to their mission, Singer suggested.
This thinking is shared by Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) in Washington, D.C.
“Anything that falls beyond the purview of anthropogenic (human) caused global warming is not going to be seriously investigated by the IPCC,” Cohen told CNSNews.com. “That’s why the IPCC should never be viewed as a scientific manual. It was created for the sole purpose of supporting the notion of human-induced climate change.”
Meanwhile, not every scientist is moved by the arguments that appear in Singer’s new report.
There are compelling scientific studies that would indicate the warming trend that occurred in the later part of the 20th century cannot be attributed to cosmic rays or other solar activity, according to Jay Gulledge, a senior scientist with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Gulledge cites Sami Solanki, an astronomy professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, who also serves as director at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, and Michael Lockwood, a physicist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom, among others to prove his point.
Solanki and his colleagues acknowledge that while sun spot activity in the 20th century may have contributed to some warming in the 20th century, it is probably not responsible for the warming that has occurred in the past few decades.
In an article in Nature magazine, Solanki and his colleagues wrote: "Although the rarity of the current episode of high average sunspot numbers may indicate that the Sun has contributed to the unusual climate change during the twentieth century, we point out that solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades."
Although solar activity may partially account for some of the warming in the early part of the 20th Century, all of the best research concerning the warming that has occurred in the past two to three decades cannot be explained by way of cosmic rays, Gulledge added.
Nevertheless, the Singer-led Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change Report sees compelling evidence in the other direction – based on actual observations, rather than scientific models.
“What’s controversial in my view is not the fact that solar activity affects the climate but the exact mechanism, the details,” Singer told CNSNews.com. “There’s overwhelming evidence, it’s also in my report, that solar activity varying on a time scale of decades produces corresponding affects on the climate on decadal scale.”