What is it about the term “cosmic rays” that takes all of us back to Buck Rogers, hokey space ships and the presumption that “it’s all made up.” Whatever it is, it needs to stop because cosmic rays are real things and it appears they may be the big unknown that is becoming known in the climate change science. It’s sort of important, considering how much money we are already spending to address this issue. And, to science junkies who started out as Buck Rogers nerds in our youth, it’s sort of “cool” science too.
To be very very brief, cosmic rays are mostly composed of pieces of atoms such as protons, atomic nuclei, or electrons, and they come from “deep space”. What’s interesting about them is that as they fall into our atmosphere they mix it up with the gases there and form the nucleus of water droplets. In other words, clouds.
So what does all this have to do with climate change? Well, clouds are a big deal when it comes to climate. Clouds reflect the sunlight, so more clouds=cooler earth, less clouds=warmer earth.
In the late 1990’s, Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark proposed what many considered a controversial theory that there could be a correlation between the intensity of the cosmic radiation that hits the Earth – and which is affected by the activity of the Sun – and the number of clouds formed. This month it looks like he was right.
The prestigious journal Geophysical Research Letters has published new results showing for the first time direct observations that these electrically charged particles coming from space (cosmic rays) are hitting our atmosphere and contribute to creating the aerosols that are the building blocks for clouds. There’s a good layman’s summary (with pictures) at Anthony Watt’s website and for those who want to read the journal article, here’s the citation: Enghoff, M. B., J. O. P. Pedersen, U. I. Uggerhøj, S. M. Paling, and H. Svensmark (2011), Aerosol nucleation induced by a high energy particle beam, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L09805, doi:10.1029/2011GL047036.
Well, is something rotten in the state of Denmark? Nope. The Danish appear to have gotten it right. The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has replicated the results in their own physics laboratories. Their report isn’t out yet, but the head of the organization is talking, and he says Svensmark’s theory is sound. So too does former NASA scientist Roy Spencer who not only evaluates these two studies, but offers up some original analysis of his own.
Now, what’s all this mean.
All admit that the sun regulates the amount of cosmic radiation entering our atmosphere. (It’s not exactly, but sort of a sunspot thing.) But the global warming alarmists have ignored the Svensmark theory and consider the effect of the sun more or less unimportant. Their big deal is what man-made greenhouse gases do, and according to them, GHGs “force” global warming (and we are all going to die . . .).
But, if cosmic radiation has a large “forcing” effect, then man-made GHG forcings become much less important. In other words, “it’s about the Sun, stupid.”
All this emerging science will serve to force the federal government to review its decisions that have made climate change the reason for more regulation that we have ever seen in the nation under any other administration. Of course, EPA isn’t going to change its mind until the person with the mind changes. It will take not just a new election, but an environmental non-RINO for EPA to change course. Or maybe a nice little law suit to force them in that direction.
As a science nerd turned lawyer, I’m sort of rubbing my hands together on this one. Stay tuned.