No, a new study does not show cosmic-rays are connected to global warming

By Phil Plait | August 31, 2011 9:32 am

The way some of the media report on climate change can be simply stunning. For example, an opinion piece in The Financial Post has the headline "New, convincing evidence indicates global warming is caused by cosmic rays and the sun — not humans".

There’s only one problem: that’s completely wrong. In reality the study shows nothing of the sort. The evidence, as far as the limitations of the experiment go (that’s important, see below), do not show any effect of cosmic rays on global warming, and say nothing at all about the effect humans are having on the environment.


What did you do, Ray?

OK, first things first: why should we even think cosmic rays might affect climate? There are several steps to this, but it’s not too hard to explain.

We know that clouds form by water molecules accumulating on seed particles, called condensation nuclei. The physical processes are complex, but these particles (also called aerosols) are suspended in the air and water droplets form around them. The more of them available, the better water can condense and form clouds (although of course this also depends on a lot of other things, like how much water is in the air, the temperature, the height above the ground, and so on).

Cosmic rays, it turns out, may play a role in this too. They are subatomic particles that zip through space at high speed. We are bombarded by them all the time, in fact! They hit atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, depositing their energy there. This affects aerosol formation rate, and therefore might affect cloud formation. Clouds are bright and white, and reflect sunlight. Therefore they affect global warming.

So the whole idea goes like this: the more cosmic rays there are, the more aerosols are made, the more easily clouds can form, the more sunlight gets reflected back into space, and the less global warming we get. It’s controversial, for sure (Discover Magazine interviewed a proponent of this idea in 2007) but worth looking into.


ConCERNing clouds

In practice, the actual connection between cosmic rays and cloud formation is really hard to determine. So a group of scientists at the European particle lab CERN decided to test the basics. They created a cloud chamber, bombarded it with cosmic rays, and examined the results. They found two very interesting things:

1) The number of aerosols created went up vastly as the particles blasted the chamber. That would seem to indicate that cosmic rays really are tied to global warming. Except…

2) The actual total number of aerosols created was way below what’s needed to account for cloud formation. Sure, there were more aerosols, but not nearly enough.

In fact, in the abstract of the paper itself, the authors state:

However, even with the large enhancements in rate due to ammonia and ions, atmospheric concentrations of ammonia and sulphuric acid [i.e. aerosols] are insufficient to account for observed boundary-layer nucleation.

Let me be clear: there may yet turn out to be a connection between cosmic rays and cloud formation. Perhaps cosmic rays are the first step in a many-step process that enhances aerosols via different methods, making enough to trigger clouds. It’s possible, and since they created a lot of aerosols in their rig it’s worth pursuing.

However, this study shows that under the conditions of the experiment, the effect of cosmic rays by themselves is too low to trigger cloud formation at the rates actually seen in our atmosphere. What is very clear is that any claims at this time that cosmic rays definitely affect global warming are baloney. As the authors of the experiment say, this is a good first step but there’s a long way to go to understand this problem, and as the website PhysOrg reiterates, "Though this most recent experiment doesn’t really answer the question of whether cosmic rays are having an impact on our weather, it does open the door to more research."


Not just a river in Egypt

So why did the Financial Post run with a headline that says the exact opposite of what the study actually found? They’re not alone, either; the Telegraph has a blog filled with similar dubious statements about the study (mostly quoting from the Financial Post blog, so take that into account). The claim they both make is that some of the science was suppressed, but that’s thin air. And it’s certainly not enough to state with certainty that cosmic rays affect our climate.

And my irony gland explodes every time I hear a global warming denier say that the science has become politicized (as the Financial Post OpEd piece did, and as Rick Perry does). Ya think? The problem isn’t the politization of global warming (since by its very nature the changing climate affects everyone, and is therefore a concern of politics), it’s the attacks on the science based on politics.


The Sun is out

A lot of global warming deniers try very hard to connect global warming to the Sun. In this case, the thinking is that Sun’s magnetic field affects how many cosmic rays hit the Earth — in times of lower solar activity, the Sun’s magnetic field doesn’t protect us as well from cosmic rays, so we should see more clouds at solar minimum and therefore cooler temperatures. During higher activity, the Sun’s field protects us better, so there should be fewer clouds, and more warming.

The problem here is two fold: there doesn’t appear to be a large variation in Earth’s temperatures with solar activity*, and also that temperatures are rising extremely rapidly in the past 100 years, when solar activity has been relatively normal.

I researched this quite a bit for my book, "Death from the Skies!" It seems like an amazing idea, and well worth investigating, that cosmic rays could affect us so much that our weather might change due to them! But what I found then, as it still seems true at least for now, is that if cosmic rays do have an effect, it’s very small, and not nearly enough to account for either the suddenness or the amount of rise in temperatures the Earth has seen in the past century.

We may know more about any alleged connection in the next few years, but be very, very wary of anyone claiming with certainty that the Sun is causing our temperature rise, or that global warming is due to cosmic rays (or in this case, the lack thereof).

As I’ve said before, here are the facts:

The Earth is warming up. The rate of warming has increased in the past century or so. This corresponds to the time of the Industrial Revolution, when we started dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases warm the planet (hence the name) — if they didn’t we’d have an average temperature below the freezing point of water. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which is dumped into the atmosphere by humans to the tune of 30 billion tons per year, 100 times the amount from volcanoes. And finally, approximately 97% of climatologists who actually study climate agree that global warming is real, and caused by humans.


* This is at best just a very small fluctuation, attributable to the actual changing amount of light and heat the Sun emits over its cycle. Basically, sunspots change the amount of light the Sun emits, but only by a teeny amount. And this amount goes up and down with each cycle, while Earth’s temperature have been increasing with time.


Related posts:

Case closed: “ClimateGate” was manufactured
New study clinches it: the Earth is warming up
Is global warming solar induced?
Cosmic rays and global warming
No, a pole shift won’t cause global superstorms

Comments (167)

  1. QuietDesperation

    Aw… but “rays” were always the culprit in the old pulp SF days. :-(

    Can we blame *anything* on rays?

  2. Regner Trampedach

    Thanks for the post, Phil.
    Well, – clouds can have two opposing effects: 1) Reflect sunlight and decrease the net greenhouse effect, or 2) trap more of the infrared light emmited by the Earth and directly increase the greenhouse effect.
    The latter has historically been the reason why AGW deniers have jumped on this.
    The opposite angle, that decreased amount of incoming cosmic rays cause warming, is an interesting turn-about…
    And I am sure there is a connection between cosmic rays and cloud formation, and it probably accounts for some of the solar cycle variation we see in Earth’s climate – But that variation is very small and it has been dwarfed by the ever increasing effect of anthropogenic greenhouse gasses for quite a while now – it is that simple.
    That FP article is pretty deplorable.
    Cheers, Regner

  3. anon8485696

    These must be tough times for those who have invested so much of their work in support of the man-made global warming hypothesis.

  4. Renee

    But … but … but … my preacher says that man cannot possibly destroy the Earth, only God can do that, and my oil company lobbyist says that I will not get any campaign contributions if I admit that fossil fuels cause global warming, so there has to be, there just MUST be some other explanation!

  5. “Against stupidity the Gods themselves contend in vain.” :-(

    – Quoted [sorta] by Isaac Asimov’s novel (click on my name for the wiki-basics) from the original translated quotation : “Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens” by Friedrich Schiller.

    Good write up there BA. Thanks. :-)

    “.. my irony gland explodes every time I hear a global warming denier say that the science has become politicized .. ”

    The science (climatology to be precise) is clear and established beyond reasonable doubt.

    The world is warming and Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating (thanks again Keith Bowden for that pronouncable acronymn! :-) ) is responsible.

    It’s only the politicians and their followers who think otherwise. Only politically and, sadly, in the “court” of public opinion as opposed to the scientific debate is the reality of HIRGO is an issue – and it really should NOT be.

    Arguing over the best solutions? Sure, that’s valid.

    (BTW. BA what would *your* prefered solution to the HIRGO problem be – & why?)

    But deny reality. For pity’s sake – NO! :-(

    @1. QuietDesperation :

    Aw… but “rays” were always the culprit in the old pulp SF days. Can we blame *anything* on rays?

    Yup. Steve Irwin’s death – a stingray got him. ;-)

  6. Good timing Phil – I have a post in my Debates group on Facebook discussing this very issue.

  7. @QuietDesperation,

    Hey if “cosmic rays” can turn a woman invisible, make a human into a torch, turn a guy into a rock-like “thing” and make a man fantastically elastic, then they should be able to cause our doom via Global Warming, right?

  8. ND

    Science has been politicized by those who don’t understand it and think it threatens their comfort zone and world view.

  9. @2. Regner Trampedach:
    Well, – clouds can have two opposing effects: 1) Reflect sunlight and decrease the net greenhouse effect, or 2) trap more of the infrared light emmited by the Earth and directly increase the greenhouse effect.
    The latter is why AGW deniers have jumped on this.

    I actually think that’s backwards. What the cosmic ray school of skeptics would contend is that the first effect is the greater of the two and that a decrease in cosmic rays causes a decrease in cloud cover, leading to an increase in global temperature. They would also contend that cosmic rays are at a relative low because the sun has had high levels of activity during the twentieth century and they would also attempt to connect the “Little Ice Age” (a period of relative cold in Europe, including the freezing of the Thames) with the Maunder Minimum, a long stretch of time where there were very few sunspots (i.e. low solar activity and presumably, higher incidence of cosmic rays).

    I’m not advocating this view, but I thought that it should be accurately represented in the comments.

  10. Theron

    Ah, but the trolls are queuing up as we speak. Clearly you have not taken into consideration new data concerning the Turbo Encabulator effect, which clearly shows global warming is hooey.

  11. Yojimbo

    @ND

    Science has been politicized by those who don’t understand it and think it threatens their comfort zone and world view.

    IMHO, science can’t be politicized. Scientists can be, and politicians can misuse and misinterpret it, but science, by its nature, can’t be political.

  12. Jess Tauber

    Its cognitive orientation to blame for the attitudes, and this back to brain structure. Some people just have their thinking out of synch, and that’s that. You can tolerate them if you like, but they have tons of cash, power, guns, and a twitch in their fingers that worries me. Their phenotype ruled the Paleolithic, and managed to survive just fine in low enough numbers and an environment that didn’t care who your gods were so long as you could throw a spear straight, and often . r-strategy and all sorts of crazy ideologies.

    But today we have a population near to carrying capacity, differentiated into myriad specialized tasks, and a big reduction in cultural and ideational diversity- K-strategy, and the r-types threaten to tear the whole edifice down. Its what you get when you let the weeds and vermin grow out of control.

  13. VinceRN

    Cosmic rays seems an odd thing to pick for this, and a Canadian financial and business journal seems an odd place to talking about this.

    @ Jess – Really, people that disagree with you are weeds and vermin? That is possibly the most bigoted statement I have ever read.

  14. Daffy

    Jess:

    Um—what?

  15. Helps to know the background of who’s speaking (writing?). The “Financial Post” is (since 1998 anyway) the business section of the “National Post” — a Canadian newspaper set up to combat a perceived “liberal” slant of other media outlets.

    So (for U.S. residents), you can think of it as being a Canadian hard-copy Fox (faux?) news — not the place to expect unbiased viewpoints.

  16. CB

    @ MTU

    It’s only the politicians and their followers who think otherwise. Only politically and, sadly, in the “court” of public opinion as opposed to the scientific debate is the reality of HIRGO is an issue – and it really should NOT be.

    Arguing over the best solutions? Sure, that’s valid.

    The problem is that it’s very hard to argue for “do nothing” as a solution if you accept the scientific reality. So that’s an understandable case of working-backwards-from-conclusions.

    The other problem is that it’s apparently difficult to argue for a solution that involves doing something that is less than the “Implement global socialist fascism” solution many claim global warming was invented to enable.

    I can also understand how False Dichotomy is useful to those arguing to do nothing, because it looks attractive next to an option that is horrific and stupid. Of course in recent years this same false dichotomy has been used to justify doing the horrific and stupid. “We must do something, and this is something, so we must do it.”

    So, this tactic only really works if they can also convince people AGW is a scam. A scam created to enable global fascism, which is the only possible solution to the problem, which is why it’s a scam. Nice and circular.

    That’s the problem: Reasonable, logical discussion of solutions is not amenable to arriving at the solution people want.

  17. ND

    Yojimbo,

    Science has been politicized in the right wing media, congress, white house, in local school administration boards. And it’s easy to do because lying is easy to do.

    Sure individual human scientists can become politicized.

    Science by definition is apolitical.

  18. Regner Trampedach

    The Reluctant Apostate @ 9: Thanks for clarifying. I think I must have edited my post after you quoted it (I didn’t think that was possible..?…). When Svensmark (man! – He and Lomborg makes me embarrased for my country – not because they are dissenting, but because they are practicing such shoddy science) first published his results I believe the dominant mechanism was believed to be 1).
    By the way, isn’t it sad that we are now spending time discussing these rather inconsequential matters and made up problems (I know, I started it) instead of doing something about the actual problem. It is so frustrating.
    Cheers, Regner

  19. Terry

    To me the thought that climate change might be completely outside human control is a far FAR scarier notion than having it within human control.

    I’m no longer a denier – but I’m still confused over how best to deal with it.

    For instance I remember reading an article about how 16 container ships out pollute all the cars on the planet. Further reading showed that this is in relation to human health (i.e. cancer & asthma), and not climate change – however all the top results in google seem to infer climate change. I’m fairly certain that the truth is worse than the inference – but the inference seems to imply that there is nothing that I can do about climate change directly.

    I’d like to see an article on what we as individuals can and should do, what government and regulatory agencies can and should do – and how we can pressure them to do so.

    I’m not yet convinced of the science, politics & economics behind several popular options.

  20. El Cid

    Global warming is caused by the Sun, because the Sun is big and hot, and no scientist ever thunk of looking up in the sky and seeing that the Sun is big and hot.

    If scientists were so smart they would make some sort of measuring thing to figure out how hot the Sun is, and what this has to do with the Earth.

    I may not have a bunch of degrees in my pocket, but I figger that knowing that the Sun is big and hot is enough to know that Al Gore is fat.

  21. Gary Ansorge

    12. Jess Tauber

    “Some people just have their thinking out of synch, and that’s that.”

    NAW! It’s just that their operating system is based on MSDOS,,,they keep getting the circle of doom,,,

    I expect, as we determine how to improve neural processing speeds, we’ll discover that just ramping up the brains “clock” will not improve thinking. The most powerful computer in the world is just a pile of junk if the operating system keeps crashing and for people, their operating system is still stuck in reptilian survival mode.

    By the way, one estimate I’ve read says the planets human carrying capacity is only about 2 billion. More than that and we’re eating our biological capital, rather than just living on our biological “interest”.

    Macro Scope was a really scary novel in that I see its propositions being acted out right now,,,

    19. El Cid

    I’d LOL if the ideas you were expressing weren’t so close to the truth of the way many people think.

    Gary 7

  22. Keith Bowden

    I’m running late this morning – I’ve been waiting for this post! Let the fun begin. Since the sun is so hot, I figure I’ll toast some marshmallows while I watch. (Hmm, there’s been a lot of news about the “diamond” planet, maybe there’s a Stay Puft planet? Omm nom nom…)
    Besides, everyone knows that what cosmic rays do is give you super-powers when you’re in a rocket with minimal shielding…

  23. Rob

    I guess SUV’s caused the Ice Age to end as well then…

  24. edlik

    Skepticism is the foundation of science. AGW remains a working hypothesis among climatologists who have but this one model on which their entire careers are based. Climatologists comprise only a small fraction of the entire earth science community, much of which remains responsibly skeptical of the AGW model. Remember, global climate change is NORMAL, even on short time scales, so any contention we can cause it is a mighty bold claim.

  25. Keith Bowden

    @MTU – You’re very welcome – I had you in mind when I coined the acronym. I thank you for embracing it!

  26. Look, a right-wing AGW-denying friend of mine cited Michele Malkin’s Facebook page where she quotes a guy who cites the Financial Post article, so clearly you’re completely wrong. Or at least, that’s what I expect to hear back after I linked this article in the comments on his Facebook page.

  27. dotwalker

    Thanks for quoting Ghostbusters Phil. You make a very good article in to an awesome article that way.

  28. Osteo (24): If you want to make a claim, it’s best not to use Natural News as a source. Mike Adams is not what I would call exactly reliable.

  29. Bruno Domingues

    These global warming (GW) issues are getting more and more silly as the time to act is getting shorter and shorter. A simple analysis can show to anyone with a brain that it is best to act as if GW is real and be wrong than to act as if GW is a lie and be wrong.

    One of the world’s bigger problems is that Americans have allowed such a class of utter imbeciles to run our destinies. Yes, ours. What your moronic opinion makers do, affects us globally.

    You cannot seed wind and harvest storm by yourselves. We are stuck in the planet with you guys. And a big share of this problem is by America’s doing. More than a fair share.

  30. DigitalAxis

    @24 Osteo:

    “Four polar bears DIDN’T die of global warming” and “Al Gore is getting frustrated no one is listening to him” are the weakest counter-arguments I’ve heard lately. Neither of them have anything to do with the main contentions of global climate change.

  31. Yojimbo

    [ Creepy voice ] They’re heeere…

  32. M

    Cosmic rays can pretty easily be shown to not be a significant driver of GW:
    – “It’s the Sun” was originally an argument that solar intensity directly correlated with GW. This was shown false when temperatures repeatedly failed to track solar cycles.
    – “It’s the Rays” is just an inverse of “It’s the Sun,” claiming that solar minimums increase cosmic ray penetration, which increase cloud seed production, which increase clouds, which cause cooling through albedo.
    – ALL variants of “It’s the Sun” arguments imply a change in INCOMING radiation (more or less must hit the surface) rather than OUTGOING radiation (heat retention or loss).
    – CO2, on the other hand, implies a change in outgoing rather than incoming radiation.
    – If GW is caused by increased incoming radiation, one effect would be that (while both daytime and nighttime temps would increase) days would warm faster than nights (and in the cloud scenario that albedo would make days cool faster than nights).
    – If GW is caused by decreased outgoing radiation, one effect would be that nights would warm faster than days.
    – We know from numerous lines of evidence that nights are warming at a faster rate than days, therefore the effect must be primarily a change in outgoing radiation.

  33. KC

    Phil could address the old “all the planets are warming” saw deniers are still using? I keep arguing that we have spacecraft around Mercury, Venus, Vesta, Mars and Saturn…as well as infrared telescopes to monitor the others and thus far we have *NOT* seen any overall temperature rise. If the Sun we really warming we would see it rise across the board in the solar system – and we DON’T!

  34. Ozonator aka Robert Rhodes

    So all the corporate horrors who went to the same building wealth seminar drank deeply of the kool-aide (offset with an oil spill), ate the free lunch, and failed to “NINE: ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor’” (allabouttruth.org/10-commandments.htm). For example, “Landmark Study Links Cosmic Rays to Climate Change” (By Dale Hurd ‘nothing’, CBN News Sr. Reporter; Christian Broadcasting Network; cbn.com, 8/31/11).

    The big clue for me is the fact that clouds also form and those that do, don’t evaporate, at night when cosmic rays and CERN are at a minimum.

    Current AGW quake and fireball predictions under –
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/powerful-68-earthquake-hits-waters-off-east-timor-no-tsunami-warning-issued/2011/08/30/gIQAh1AzoJ_allComments.html#comments

  35. 2crudedudes

    Politicizing science is only muddling the truth. Science is supposed to be objective, not follow political agendas.

  36. SLC

    Re El Cid @ #20

    I may not have a bunch of degrees in my pocket, but I figger that knowing that the Sun is big and hot is enough to know that Al Gore is fat.

    And Marc Morano is even fatter then Al Gore.

  37. Doug Little

    Even if cosmic rays contribute I would have thought that the flux of rays would have followed the solar cycle pretty closely and so could not have caused the increase in warming that we see over the last two hundred years. Is anybody claiming that the flux of rays has increased recently?

  38. DanD

    We don’t care if the planet is warming, or if fossil fuels will some day run out. The Rapture will save us all (or at least those of us who matter). Rite?

  39. G S

    I am suspect at the authors bias, since he did it for his book. All scientist are biased. I would have less suspicion if we were dealing with a peer review paper then a future author.

  40. Fred

    /sarcasm Looks like Phil’s been debunked in the comment section over at Right Wing News:
    http://rightwingnews.com/climate-change/climate-alarmists-attempted-to-shut-down-cern-sun-science/

  41. desotojohn

    Seems strange that no one has mentioned the band of anti-protons have been discovered ringing around the earth.

  42. To take the CERN report on its own is ridiculous. CERN is just the latest work confirming the theory of Svensmark and is completely backed up by numerous correlations between solar activity and global climate.

    I strongly suggest everyone takes a look as this video before embarrassing themselves by suggesting there is no link:

    http://youtu.be/L1n2oq-XIxI

    Then ask yourself the question: what evidence is there that the massive feedbacks that are at the heart of the climate models exists? Well if the feedback existed:

    1. They would have predicted the current pause in warming, which they didn’t
    2. We would have found warming at 10km above the equator which isn’t there
    3. Spencer, Lindzen and Choi would not have found that the IR emitted from the earth doesn’t match the IPCC models and wouldn’t have concluded the models must vastly overestimate the feedbacks & so warming.
    4. There wouldn’t be a much better fit to the curve with svensmark solar activity than the butchered equations where CO2 warming is inflated beyond any legitimate evidence.

  43. JJ (the other one)

    It’s all well and good to say that science is not political but that’s not the whole story.

    To demonstrate, consider that 100% of published acupuncture trials from Asia (1966-1995) show that acupuncture “works” (shows positive results).* Not a single negative study. There’s clearly a cultural and political angle to a result like that, especially when those studies supposedly include placebo controls.

    On the topic of acupuncture and if it actually “works”? The best evidence indicates that the better the placebo controls & blinding are the more the effect disappears. Once properly blinded & controlled there is no difference between a toothpick being twisted against the surface of the skin (obviously a placebo) and a needle being inserted. And then, no difference then between a needle inserted in a magical ‘acupuncture point’ or just wherever.

    Even better, to see the politicization of acupuncture studies, the study that showed that toothpicks on the surface of the skin is just as good as ‘real’ acupuncture? Instead of the authors stating “acupuncture is no better than placebo” they said that ‘sham’ acupuncture (the toothpick thing) IS AN EFFECTIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT.

    This is why skepticism, critical thinking, science, etc. are a process, and why understanding the process is so absolutely vital. Because the process WILL introduce politicization into science. Science has to be aware of that and produce results that account for it.

    * See PubMed ID: 9551280, referenced today on the Science Based Medicine blog.

  44. Loud

    @#40: G S – What book are you talking about? The CERN study was published in Nature. If you’re talking about Phil’s book, it’s been out for years, so he isn’t a ‘future author.’ And research is research; check the sources for yourself if you’re skeptical.

  45. vel

    @GS. I do wish that people who accuse scientists of all being “biased” would please take yourselves out of this nice comfy world that science has wrought and go live in mud brick huts and have no access to computers or modern medicine. You are all pathetic hypocrites.

  46. rob

    ah, but vel, we scientists are biased. but we *recognize* that fact and attempt to correct for it using the scientific method and peer review.

  47. Doug Little

    CERN is just the latest work confirming the theory of Svensmark and is completely backed up by numerous correlations between solar activity and global climate

    Yes it is confirmation that cosmic rays cause nucleation, but the effect only accounts for a small fraction of all nucleation. There are studies that suggest there is no correlation between solar activity and warming over the last 20years. If Svenmark was living before the industrial revolution then his conclusion that cosmic rays as a major contributor to global warming has shown some promise. These days other mechanisms are the main drivers.

  48. Chris

    But will cosmic rays make me into a superhero?

  49. TerryEmberson

    @30. Bruno Domingues Says:

    One of the world’s bigger problems is that Americans have allowed such a class of utter imbeciles to run our destinies. Yes, ours. What your moronic opinion makers do, affects us globally.

    One of the world’s bigger problems is that people tend to expect others to have to adjust rather than accepting diversity of opinion. Our opinion makers are definitely idiots, but we believe in freedom of expression meaning that even idiots get a voice. Fortunately, our opinion makers recognize that they can’t seriously change the free market system, so the power of the government remains more limited than elsewhere.

  50. Joseph G

    wHAT!? It’s one thing to say that global warming is connected to cosmic rays, but that THEY CAUSE IT!? That headline is just flabbergasting. I know they say to assume incompetence before malice, but there’s GOT to be some money changing hands here.

  51. Terry… in the market of ideas, everyone has a right to *participate*; no one has the right to be awarded unfounded merit.

    Opinions are worthless without facts. AGW Deniers’ opinions are based on *ignoring* facts rather than *incorporating* facts. Denying AGW is at best a spurious opinion.

    Denying AGW is a failure in the marketplace of ideas. You lose, sir. Good day.

  52. omg

    If you think that the sun and the sun’s rays don’t effect the climate and tempature on earth you are a freakin idiot. If you think that humans have more of an effect on the climate than the sun, you are in the same group of people that thought the earth was flat.

    That is all.

  53. John Sandlin

    OK Mark @43 I’ve re-read the CERN stuff and came to the same conclusion I did before. The data does not close the door on AGW. In fact a lot of components of the paper leave me wondering just how anyone could conclude otherwise. They had to use ultra pure air to see the effect from the cosmic rays. Our usual polluted and meteoric dust contaminated atmosphere doesn’t need cosmic rays to create clouds and the effect of cosmic rays in such an atmosphere is really very minor.

    As for the evidence of massive feed backs you cite…. first, our atmosphere reached it’s current average temperature due to massive feed backs. We are running about 300 degrees Kelvin. The change we’re talking about is about 2 degrees Kelvin. So we are talking about a change of equilibrium of less than one percent; our contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere is certainly capable of that. Now this just less than one percent is a critical just less than one percent.

    The warming is real and we’re to blame.

    jbs

  54. Bobby J

    “And finally, approximately 97% of climatologists who actually study climate agree that global warming is real, and caused by humans.”

    Pure. Bull. Were these the same climatologists who touted manmade global cooling in the 1980s? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    Yeah, they all agree. That’s why they had to fake all those studies and destroy the evidence.

  55. Bruno Domingues

    @50. TerryEmberson Says:

    “One of the world’s bigger problems is that people tend to expect others to have to adjust rather than accepting diversity of opinion. Our opinion makers are definitely idiots, but we believe in freedom of expression meaning that even idiots get a voice. Fortunately, our opinion makers recognize that they can’t seriously change the free market system, so the power of the government remains more limited than elsewhere.”

    Agreed. I like diversity, one of our greatest strengths as a species. Also like and believe in freedom of expression and agree that, indeed, even idiots should get a voice (as they do). But given the great diversity and potential available, some less idiot ones taking charge of affairs would be much better for all of us.

    I believe that American public opinion, although strong enough to change American policy and subsequently influence and guide world affairs in a more fair and balanced manner, will not do so in the near future. I think your “opinion makers”, not being totally capable of influencing said “free market” will continue to trend and mold what they can, your “public opinion”.

    Unfortunately this will seems harsh, rude, ignorant, arrogant or ill informed to some Americans, others know this is how some of the rest of the world regards a big part of America:
    A child , big and powerful, yes, but infantile in its reactions, throwing a tantrum and rocking the boat with all of us in it, risking to capsize us into the troubled seas.

    I hope the good ones in there can turn the tide and use that energy to grow and evolve to a balanced adult. I would follow less idiotic politics and opinion makers.

  56. KH

    You didn’t mention what the reasoning behind this hypothesis is.

    In short, the sun travels around the center of our galaxy, leaving us back roughly where we started every 225-250 mill. years. During that time the earth is sometimes within a high density spiral (high amount of cosmic rays) and sometimes between them (lower amount of cosmic rays). Temperatures are generally low when we’re moving through high density areas, and higher when we’re further away – at least according to Svensmark himself, would love to see an actual source for this.

    The hypothesis is that the change we see in the temperature relative to our placement in the galaxy, could be caused by the differing amount of cosmic rays we recieve. So when we’re inside a high density area, we get more cosmic rays, leading to more cloud cover, resulting in lower temperature and vice versa.

    The global warming which seems to be the sole focus in most places is simply taking that hypothesis one step further, as we know the activity on the sun also influences the cosmic rays, leading to what you explained in the post.

    All in all this study doesn’t seem to bring that much more to the table, whichever way you look at it.

  57. juan carlos

    If the Cosmic Rays or the Sun are the cause of global warming of the last century then we should not be worried because in 50 years or less the humanity will become extinct. Nothing we can do. But if the reason of global warming its the human burn of fosils then we have a little chance.

  58. Joseph G

    @55 Bobby J: Yeah, they all agree. That’s why they had to fake all those studies and destroy the evidence.

    Link please?
    If you’re trolling, bravo. If not, well, like I said, please elaborate.

  59. Wow, okay by your same logic we can rule out that CO2 will do little more than increase the temperature a half degree despite a quadrupling of the ppm. The feedback loops spoken of in that are all tenuous at best. Actually what this article suggests is that in combination with other factors Cosmic Rays and the shielding of the sun or the allowance of the particles through constitute a larger factor than CO2 possibly can. This is a hypothesis, which will take CENTURIES to play out, however it is as likely or more likely than the feedback loops that supposedly suggest we will see a 10 degree Celsius increase in the next century.

    The postulation of course being that as much as HALF the could cover in the world is formed due to this process, which I do have to suggest, would definitively contribute to an increase or decrease in Global Warming.

    However you are right to be skeptical of this report and to be honest ANY report that claims to understand the complex nature of climate. Of course how dare you deny this report, and belittle it, what are you a denier of science or something? You obviously have chosen to misrepresent the facts of a legitimate experiment! 8,000 scientists can’t be wrong. Of course this is all a fallacious argument but it is what ‘skeptics’ are charged with all the time, heck even in your article you made reference to it.

    Now lets face it CO2 does increase temperature, I do not think any ‘skeptic’ claims other than that. What ‘skeptics’ are skeptical of is the HUGE temperature increases that are brought about by theorized feedback loops and that increasing CO2 ONLY brings bad results. Anytime the only thing reported is that the end of the world will come if we increase CO2 I start to think there is a different agenda at work than ‘science’.

    For instance will growing seasons be elongated? What about plant respiration? Will there be a beneficial result for every negative? More fresh Water ( without it ALWAYS being flooding )? So I am skeptical of the ‘damage’ of global warming and skeptical of the HUGE predictions of temperature increase. I also take issue with the increase being primarily in the daytime temperatures as that does not make much sense either based on my limited knowledge of thermodynamics and the rate of heat exchange brought on by an increase in CO2 Concentrations.

    Anyway whatever, I just wanted to pipe in.

  60. El Cid

    As was stated so eloquently in a comment on P. Z. Myers’ blog, if there’s such thing as global warming caused by man, then *how come there’s still monkeys*? Answer THAT, so-called smart people!

  61. Must say I tend to agree with omg and post #53. I’m just a layperson with a strong interest in science and astronomy, but I’m a bit of an agnostic now when it comes to AGW. Yes, I do think that it would be prudent as an insurance policy to err on the side of caution and reduce our waste generally, including CO2 and greenhouse gases.

    However, I also think that we should also do more to understand that big currant bun in the sky 93 million miles above our heads. Surely this gargantuan nuclear fusion reactor has a much greater influence on our weather (Maunder Minimum and its correlation to the frost fairs on the River Thames during the ”Little Ice Age’ for example).

    One lick of a coronal mass ejection from the Sun in our direction could really put us in our place, as could a general increase in solar output.

    At times the whole climate change debate has become much too political and has bordered on religious fanaticism… and yes possibly overstates mankind’s importance and centrality with regards to the climate (a little pre-Copernican tendency creeping in).

    I prefer to keep my options open, and I remain sceptical of both sides in the debate, both of whom are supported by vested interests. That doesn’tmean that we shouldn’t reduce waste and atmospheric pollution wherever we can.

  62. Daniel J. Andrews

    Here’s what the lead author (Kirby) has said about his paper.

    [The paper] actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it’s a very important first step.

    So we have yet another example of people who aren’t scientists in a relevant field, if a scientist at all, getting an interpretation opposite of what the authors of a paper have come up with.

    Check realclimate.org take on it too…they think it is good–so if the FP is right, does this the climate scientists at RC agree with FP?

    In summary, this is a great example of doing science and making progress, even if it isn’t what they first thought they’d find.

    Bobby parrots a meme,

    Pure. Bull. Were these the same climatologists who touted manmade global cooling in the 1980s? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    What you thought is completely wrong. Go look it up…it has been debunked, slain, dismembered and buried many times in many places, so fully, so completely, so easily, that the only people repeating it now are the willfully ignorant, the conspiracy theorists, the deluded, and the liars.

  63. Shalev

    Thanks for shooting this one down, Phil. I’ve only recently been paying serious attention to the secondary-source BS factories that crank out pseudo-news written in a tone that implies there’s some sort of legitimate beef with AGW (there isn’t) and when I saw this article, I immediately recognized what it was, and a moment later I found myself hoping you’d mention it on Bad Astronomy. :)

    This whole issue is so stupid simple, and any tool with an internet connection, two minutes of free time, and a reasonably open mind could get themselves eduhmucated in moments if they’d just unplug from the political noise machine.

    I wasn’t a professional denier, but I was a disbeliever, right up until I completely gave up on partisan politics after the post-2008-election right wing meltdown. Once I absolutely stopped seeing the world as “conservatives” vs. everybody else, I got off my duff, did some research, and one of the first pages I stumbled across was NASA’s wonderful section on climate :

    http://climate.nasa.gov/

    They go point by point and knock down almost every “argument” against AGW that I’ve ever heard (minus the volcanoes, I don’t see mention of that at the moment), usually in two paragraphs or less, without even trying very hard. It’s a beautiful thing.

  64. dense_mattr

    @Renee Why does your type of comment appear under all of Phil’s posts? I’ve always taken contempt for religion and disdain for sub-rational hick beliefs for granted. All my life, whatever the issue was, setting aside irrelevant Christian BS was just assumed, and you go with reason and logic. So I don’t get why a dismissal of bible superstition needs to be restated over and over again here. But then again, I grew up in a smart liberal town on the coast, where religion basically doesn’t exist, except as a stupid, embarrassing tradition. But maybe it was more influential for people like you who won’t shut up about it? Or maybe you actually were a bible thumper until like 2 weeks ago? If so, it’s just a phase. Have faith! You’ll be back at the exorcism in no time.

  65. TerryEmberson

    @52. gameshowhost Says:

    Terry… in the market of ideas, everyone has a right to *participate*; no one has the right to be awarded unfounded merit.

    Unfortunately, the enlightenment definition of freedom of speech does not agree with you. No one can be the arbiter of what is allowable within the marketplace of ideas. The very nature of it, is that anyone can play. Truth is not important to this, staying power is. Eventually, truth has more staying power than any other idea, though.

    Opinions are worthless without facts.

    That’s your opinion, do you have any facts to back that up?

    AGW Deniers’ opinions are based on *ignoring* facts rather than *incorporating* facts. Denying AGW is at best a spurious opinion.

    Yes. Agreed.

    Denying AGW is a failure in the marketplace of ideas. You lose, sir. Good day.

    Wait, I missed something? Why do I lose?

    @56. Bruno Domingues:

    Agreed. I like diversity, one of our greatest strengths as a species. Also like and believe in freedom of expression and agree that, indeed, even idiots should get a voice (as they do). But given the great diversity and potential available, some less idiot ones taking charge of affairs would be much better for all of us.

    Meaning what precisely? We should have the less idiot people decide for everyone else? Who gets to decide who is less idiotic? How do we keep that system running well? Did that work for the Soviets? The Chinese? I’m sorry, I’ll take the idiots ruling over the elites. They are worse at taking away my rights.

    I believe that American public opinion, although strong enough to change American policy and subsequently influence and guide world affairs in a more fair and balanced manner, will not do so in the near future.

    Your idea of fair and balanced is not universal. I believe it would be better if the U.S. had less foreign intervention in its foreign policy, which would be more fair and balanced in my opinion, but also good would be everyone else getting over their doldrums, stopping feeling sorry for themselves, and getting out of the way of the free market so that people can go on with living in greater prosperity.

    Unfortunately this will seems harsh, rude, ignorant, arrogant or ill informed to some Americans, others know this is how some of the rest of the world regards a big part of America:
    A child , big and powerful, yes, but infantile in its reactions, throwing a tantrum and rocking the boat with all of us in it, risking to capsize us into the troubled seas.

    Having traveled the world extensively, I’ve been exposed to this stereotype before. Unfortunately, it is as accurate as the American stereotype of Europe as old man, weak and bereft of once youthful vigor, but sadly unaware of it, hiding behind the youthful America when fascism or communism threatens, yet criticizing its youth otherwise.

    See, that’s the problem with stereotypes, they aren’t true. In this case, we are making stereotypes of national character in order to try to understand inordinately complex entities (countries or regions) by comparing it to relatively simple phenomenon.

    I hope the good ones in there can turn the tide and use that energy to grow and evolve to a balanced adult. I would follow less idiotic politics and opinion makers.

    I personally hope that politicians can continue to fail to accomplish much as all for as long as possible, so that people can get on with living. I don’t care to follow anyone but myself.

  66. brett

    here is a link to physicist Nir Shaviv who discusses the basis for the cosmic ray climate link in a more adult manner http://www.sciencebits.com/CosmicRaysClimate He provides the historical background, conceptual and theoretical framework and the several areas of data correlation. Here is another link where he discusses the results of the first part of the ‘cloud’ experiment from CERN (it is ongoing) http://www.sciencebits.com/CLOUDresults Dismissing this research and its possible impact on climate science and the theory of AGW, as some posters are doing, is blinkered cheers brett

  67. QuietDesperation

    Hey if “cosmic rays” can turn a woman invisible, make a human into a torch, turn a guy into a rock-like “thing” and make a man fantastically elastic, then they should be able to cause our doom via Global Warming, right?

    Exactly! Rays! [fluttershy]Whoo hoo![/fluttershy]

    Yup. Steve Irwin’s death – a stingray got him.

    I miss that guy. I loved the show with the little baby sea turtles trying to get to the sea before the birds get them. Most shows take the “Oh, we must stand back and let nature take its course…”

    Meanwhile Steve and his wife are all “Hey, these turtles are endangered and there’s fifty billion trillion of those birds. We’re helping out the turtles!” They helped a whole pile of them make it to the water. Dude made a difference like a boss that day.

  68. @ ^ QuietDesperation : I’d never even heard of Steve Irwin till I was overseas. He was certainly a character. Gallows humour in my original comment.

    @37. SLC :

    Re El Cid @ #20 “I may not have a bunch of degrees in my pocket, but I figger that knowing that the Sun is big and hot is enough to know that Al Gore is fat.”
    And Marc Morano is even fatter then Al Gore.

    With Rush Limbaugh being the fattest of them all or so I gather! ;-)

  69. Nobody

    If I could make a small correction: strictly speaking, the researchers didn’t bombard the cloud chamber with cosmic rays per se, but rather with the particles produced by one of CERN’s other experiments. I forget which one, sorry.

  70. @34. KC :

    Phil could address the old “all the planets are warming” saw deniers are still using? I keep arguing that we have spacecraft around Mercury, Venus, Vesta, Mars and Saturn…as well as infrared telescopes to monitor the others and thus far we have *NOT* seen any overall temperature rise. If the Sun we really warming we would see it rise across the board in the solar system – and we DON’T!

    The BA has done this already quite a few years ago in an article titled “Is global warming solar induced?” which was posted here on April 29th, 2007 at 8:24 at night. Click on my name for the link to it. Hope that helps. :-)

  71. Messier Tidy Upper

    See also the more recent article by the BA here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/06/17/are-we-headed-for-a-new-ice-age/

    Plus my favourite of all Greenman 3610’s video’s on the HIRGO topic here :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSXgiml5UwM&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=44&feature=plpp

    The ‘Mars attacks’ one and also a favourite of his series here :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSXgiml5UwM&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=44&feature=plpp

    the Solar Schmolar one. :-)

    Note that the BA has a series of relevant links – headed “Related Posts” at the end of each post incl. this one and also has tags such as “Climate Change’, Global warming” & ‘Cosmic rays’ which bring up all the posts so tagged in the past which can be handy for searches too. :-)

    (Although tags can often be problematic given that exact “tagging titles” are somewhat arbitrary and can sometimes miss things you’d think may be covered.)

  72. @11. Yojimbo :

    “IMHO, science can’t be politicized. Scientists can be, and politicians can misuse and misinterpret it, but science, by its nature, can’t be political.”

    Well there is apparently the field of Political Science & Psephology which is the scientific analysis of elections. (Click on my name for the wiki-page.) ;-)

  73. Jeffersonian

    @25. edlik Says:
    Remember, global climate change is NORMAL, even on short time scales.

    Care to cite the other period in mankind’s history when warming occurred at the current rate with the corresponding changes in natural features, flora and habitat?

  74. John Sandlin

    I was rather incomplete with my earlier summary of my read of the “cosmic ray” work and left a good many things out. One was that the actual paper is a reasonably good paper. At this stage in their research, they wanted to see if Cosmic Rays could create nucleation sites for cloud droplets to form. They found that they can. They used very clean air to be sure it was the rays causing the drops… because regular air has so many pollutants already that it would be hard to observe the effect.

    What I’m disregarding is the hype that their research proves that global warming isn’t man made.

    Also, comments were made that the warming has paused. I didn’t answer that. Please note that the warming has not paused. OK, now I answered that. The last 10 years were all warmer than 9 of the 10 years prior, and those 10 years warmer than the 10 before and so on. It’s still getting warmer globally.

    Let me say emphatically that climate scientists do not disregard the Sun’s influence on climate. It’s built into the understanding of why the Earth averages the temperature it does (somewhere around 287 degrees Kelvin – I rounded it to a tropical temp earlier to make the maths easy – 2 degrees out of 287 degrees is still less than one percent).

    The vast majority of that 287 degrees is the heat of the Earth from formation and energy from the Sun. The equilibrium point we had was like a sweet spot for growing crops. As it gets warmer, that point will be less sweet. It only takes about 3 degrees warming (about 290 Kelvin average global temperature) to make the Earth inhospitable to humans (and our habit of eating now and then). We’ve warmed a bit over half a degree already, expecting a minimum of 2 degrees warming by 2100. That leaves one more degree before people will start becoming extinct.

    Look around people. Our life style now will be completely gone in five generations if we do nothing, and possibly even if we do some minimal effort. We’ll stop counting generations before reaching ten more if we do nothing. The CO2 already released by us has decades before natural processes can deal with it… so we’ll keep warming unless we can start sucking the existing CO2 out and back down to normal or preindustrial levels. We’ll keep warming until the new equilibrium point is reached, perhaps 6 to 10 degrees above our previous average. A little CO2 can go a long way if applied at a tipping point.

    jbs

  75. Confused

    I’ve been reading about Henrik Svensmark’s theories. If anything, CLOUD confirms the theory. What we need to do now is account for this in the climate models.

    http://calderup.wordpress.com/

    Look at Nigel Calder’s credentials – one can’t dismiss him.

    Regarding John Sandlin’s comments – the cost of stopping carbon emissions is not small. If carbon dioxide is not a factor, then resources need to be spent on adapting to an unstoppable natural phenomenon of global warming. If we spent it all on stopping carbon dioxide, we won’t have anything left for adaptation.

    Let’s face it – climate modeling is a “soft” science – there’s a lot of adjusting to make the models fit historical data. CLOUD is a hard science – it’s carefully controlled and measured. We have to put more weight on experiments line CLOUD than computer models.

  76. Impulse725

    Boy, that earth-in-flames picture sure sees a lot of action

  77. Nigel Depledge

    Quiet Desperation (1) said:

    Aw… but “rays” were always the culprit in the old pulp SF days.

    Can we blame *anything* on rays?

    I know a guy called Ray who drives a long way to work every day. We could try blaming him, I guess.

  78. Nigel Depledge

    Anon8485696 (3) said:

    These must be tough times for those who have invested so much of their work in support of the man-made global warming hypothesis.

    Only because of idiots who insist, on no grounds at all, that AGW is something less than a firmly-established conclusion.

  79. Nigel Depledge

    Terry (19) said:

    I’d like to see an article on what we as individuals can and should do,

    Briefly:
    Make your home as energy-efficient as you practicably can (e.g. use energy-saver light-bulbs, make sure your insulation is as good as it can be, maybe turn that heating thermostat down a degree in winter, and the aircon thermostat up a degree or two in summer);
    Drive less (e.g. can your journey be done by walking, cycling or using poublic transport? Does the journey need to be done at all?);
    When driving, go a little bit slower (even a 5 mph reduction in your rural cruising speed can save a little bit of fuel), and drive as smoothly as you can (every time you use the brakes, you are wasting energy) – e.g. if you leave a big gap to the car in front, when it slows down, all you need to do is lift off the accelerator to gradually match its speed (this is more fuel-efficiant than using your brakes to match the speed of the car in front);
    Ask your electricity provider how much they obtain from renewables, and consider changing provider to one that offers a higher percentage of renewably-generated power.

    I’m sure there are a few other things, but these are probably the easiest to implement (although they may not be the most effective things you can do).

    I have read that micro-generation is an excellent way to provide your own power, but very few of us have enough space to run solar, wind and micro-hydro generation plants (you need the combination to ensure reliability of supply), and only a few nations have schemes whereby consumers who generate their own power can sell their surplus to the grid.

    what government and regulatory agencies can and should do – and how we can pressure them to do so.

    This is a tough one. There is little if any consensus about what the most effective large-scale ideas might be. I think you could pressure your government to mandate that the power companies must buy surplus consumer-generated electricity; you can pressure your government to cease subsidising the fossil fuel industries (assuming it is one of those that currently does so); you can pressure your government into supporting the development of technology to exploit renewables such as solar, wind, wave and hydro power; if you consider it a worthwhile objective, you can pressure your government to support schemes to explore carbon capture and storage (there is much debate over the actual value of doing this, given that the technology to do it is in its infancy, even compared with renewable-generation technology).

    At the very least, you could write to your representatives and express your concern and ask them what they plan to do about AGW.

  80. Gunnar

    I think it should be noted that even Exxon, the world’s biggest oil company now acknowledges the reality of AGW, and that we need to find ways to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions. They have cut all ties and funding to organizations that deny AGW. Try googling “Exxon and global warming” and you will find several sites that report Exxon’s most current stance on this issue. You will get a similar result if you google “Shell Oil or BP and global warming.” Maybe with even big oil weighing in on the reality of global warming, attitudes have a chance of changing for the better.

  81. Joseph G

    62 Andy Fleming: However, I also think that we should also do more to understand that big currant bun in the sky 93 million miles above our heads. Surely this gargantuan nuclear fusion reactor has a much greater influence on our weather (Maunder Minimum and its correlation to the frost fairs on the River Thames during the ”Little Ice Age’ for example).
    One lick of a coronal mass ejection from the Sun in our direction could really put us in our place, as could a general increase in solar output.

    Of course understanding the sun is vital. But it’s also fairly easy to study and track, as climate factors go (you don’t need to take measurements all over the place – all it takes is one probe or observatory). The sun’s output can be measured fairly precisely, and scientists have been doing it for decades. Between the quite stable measured output of the sun and evidence that the little ice age was regional rather then global, solar activity has been pretty much ruled out as the cause of any recent terrestrial temperature changes.

    At times the whole climate change debate has become much too political and has bordered on religious fanaticism… and yes possibly overstates mankind’s importance and centrality with regards to the climate (a little pre-Copernican tendency creeping in).

    I dunno about that – I mean, it’s true that it’s human nature to act as if everything revolves around us, but what about when it does? I find it fascinating how many global warming deniers get so humble all of a sudden when it comes to the supposed inability of people to affect the environment in any way.

    I prefer to keep my options open, and I remain sceptical of both sides in the debate, both of whom are supported by vested interests. That doesn’tmean that we shouldn’t reduce waste and atmospheric pollution wherever we can.

    What are the vested interests that cause the vast majority of climate scientists to agree with the AGW consensus? Pretty much everyone else on earth has a vested interest in hoping that it isn’t true. Of course, that’s an argument from adverse consequences – “If X is true, I’m going to experience bad things, so X isn’t true.”

    Anyway, no offense intended, but to me, the “skeptical of both sides” position feels like the balance fallacy to me. It’s good to be skeptical of all sides, but given the credentials and numbers of the experts on either side… Well, I personally wouldn’t give the anti-AGW crowd all that much consideration by this point.
    Just my opinion :)

  82. Joseph G

    Apologies in advance if I sounded crabby or nonsensical – I just realized how much I need to get some sleep!

  83. Joseph G

    @80 Gunnar: Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those oil companies were playing both sides of the field – targeting a message of “We need to take positive action on climate change!” to people who can’t be misled, to boost their popularity, while also secretly funding organizations that spread denialism.
    I’ve got no proof, of course. I just wouldn’t be surprised…

  84. ColinC

    @80 Gunnar :

    I think it should be noted that even Exxon, the world’s biggest oil company now acknowledges the reality of AGW, and that we need to find ways to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions. They have cut all ties and funding to organizations that deny AGW. Try googling “Exxon and global warming” and you will find several sites that report Exxon’s most current stance on this issue. You will get a similar result if you google “Shell Oil or BP and global warming.” Maybe with even big oil weighing in on the reality of global warming, attitudes have a chance of changing for the better.

    Or maybe it will be recognized that collective action on a global scale has not worked in any significant context. Even the ending of slavery took the British empire working unilaterally, not the sudden emergence of a global conscience. If people want to fight global warming, for real, they need to look for individual solutions (inventing better carbon sequestering, making alternative energies cheaper, etc.) Collective solutions rely on everyone suddenly thinking like a collectivist, which for people like me who prize our individuality and self-direction, isn’t going to happen.

    Exxon also provides us evidence of another fact. The closest competitor to energy densities needed for running cars is lithium-ion batteries. Exxon invented them, the thing that is the closest to competing with gasoline, during the 70s, when oil was getting too expensive. Economics… it works.

  85. Nigel Depledge

    Edlik (25) said:

    Skepticism is the foundation of science. AGW remains a working hypothesis among climatologists who have but this one model on which their entire careers are based. Climatologists comprise only a small fraction of the entire earth science community, much of which remains responsibly skeptical of the AGW model. Remember, global climate change is NORMAL, even on short time scales, so any contention we can cause it is a mighty bold claim.

    Ah, I see you are a mouthpiece for the Big Oil “Talking Points”.

    Taking a point-by-point approach . . .

    AGW is no longer a working hypothesis. It is a firmly-established conclusion.

    Climatologists do not have just “one model” – they have thousands, all of which use different assumptions for the various parameters and how those parameters interact. The global climate, in case you were unaware, is fiendishly complicated when you start to get into the details. The various climatology models broadly agree with one another, but differ in the details of exactly how AGW will affect us.

    Moreover, the models are predictive tools, used to work out what will occur inthe future, based on various scenarios. The conclusion that AGW is real is based on hard data, not models.

    Non-climatologist earth scientists are not really relevant – their expertise would be in (say) vulcanology or geochemistry, not in understanding how Earth’s global climate behaves.

    Global climate change is indeed normal, but there is a difference between signal and noise. We have statistical tools to reliably pull a signal (the warming trend) from the “noise” of temporary variations. Also, the rate of GW we are currently experiencing is unprecedented.

  86. Nigel Depledge

    Mike Hasler (43) said:

    Then ask yourself the question: what evidence is there that the massive feedbacks that are at the heart of the climate models exists?

    Two points here:

    The massive feedbacks, as you call them, are predicted to make things worse if global temps reach a tipping point. Or have you never heard of methane clathrates? There is good reason to suspect that such a positive feedback mechanism was involved in the end-Permian mass extinction. We have not necessarily reached that tipping point yet.

    Since the remainder of your argument relies on addressing the feedbacks, it is irrelevant, because the feedbacks are not central (as you claim they are) to the record of warming up to now. The feedbacks are a strong reason why we should act soon to curb GW, so that we don’t trigger them.

    Oh, and I can’t view your linked video from work and have better things to do with my time when I’m at home. Perhaps you could at least try and, y’know, assemble an argument of your own?

  87. Spence_UK

    Nigel, wrt your #84, no I don’t think that is what Mike is referring to. I think Mike is referring to the feedbacks assumed when modelling to get the ipcc estimates of climate sensitivity of 1.5 to 6 degree C per doubling.

    The direct radiative effect of CO2 on the surface temperatures is straightforward to calculate, either in a simple Arrhenius-style analytical model, or a more complex numerical model using spectral line databases. The climate sensitivity due to a doubling of CO2, assuming all else is equal and thermodynamic equilibrium in the atmosphere, is about 1 deg C per doubling. So, if we have a baseline of 280ppm as zero, we get 1 deg C at 560ppm and 2 deg C at 1120ppm.

    As you can see, the direct effect of CO2 is outside of the IPCC sensitivity range. How do they do that? Well, they invoke feedbacks. There are many feedbacks, but the two main ones assumed are (1) albedo feedback and (2) water vapour feedback. These are assumed to amplify the direct CO2 effect by up to six times what the simple physics tells us will happen.

    It is these feedbacks that I assume Mike is calling into question. Without the feedbacks, the warming due to CO2 is fairly trivial and not an immediate concern. The feedbacks themselves, whilst plausible, do not have a wealth of evidence supporting them. Certainly nothing like the sort of evidence, or confidence, that we have about CO2 alone.

  88. It’s one thing to have informed disagreement on a complex issue, and it’s nice to see some of that being discussed here. What makes me really concerned is the way so many people feel the need to chime in with an opinion that’s not at all based on reality — where they clearly don’t have the faintest idea of what the AGW climate scenarios say. Many are just trolls, like #25 edlik, #53 omg, #55 Bobby J. But even commenters who are trying to give the impression that they are well informed, like #60 Forrest, clearly haven’t read, or understood, even summaries of the actual science.

    This is not a blog problem, it’s a huge societal problem — that people like “omg” think that they understand enough about the issue to have an informed opinion. They don’t, and while some are educatable, many are happy in their know-nothing knee-jerk reactions. And they are electing those who create national and global policy.

    I don’t even think the answer is science education — maybe a bit of critical thinking education would be a start. But it’s really depressing to see that the good discussions are, politically, steamrollered by the know-nothing crowd.

  89. Daffy

    Well said, Greg. Rush Limbaugh, for example has long been a proponent of the idiotic idea that his “common sense” opinions are as valid as any facts brought out by scientists.

  90. Marc

    Hi Phil, first time poster here. Great article. I just wanted to share something with you and your other readers.

    I was curious so I went and read the FP article. The author talks about how “the version of Mr. Kirkby’s study that appears in the print edition of Nature censored the most eye-popping graph — only those who know where to look in an online supplement will see the striking potency of cosmic rays in creating the conditions for seeding clouds”.

    Ok, that’s interesting. I then downloaded the doc file that the author links to at the bottom of the article to see this “eye-popping” graph. The doc contained an obviously cropped screenshot of the graph in question, along with a caption written by the FP author stating how “at 4.58 am [in the graph], CLOUD also beamed charged pion particles (Jch) from an accelerator (these are equivalent to cosmic rays), the rate of cluster production took off, convincingly demonstrating the effect of cosmic rays on cluster growth”.

    Well, I went onto the Nature website and checked out this graph in the “hidden” supplementary material, which wasn’t hard to find at all. Low and behold, the first line of the caption below this graph:

    “Fig.S 2. Typical measurement sequence. Example of a typical run sequence…”

    EXAMPLE!!! ‘Nuff said. See the supplemental material yourself at the following link, it’s on page 4: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v476/n7361/extref/nature10343-s1.pdf

    Keep up the good work Phil!

    Marc

  91. Related to our altered climate, here’s something: “Vast ice island set to break off Greenland glacier”.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44353322/ns/us_news-environment/#.Tl-jJ2HzN8E

  92. Yojimbo

    @74 Messier Tidy Upper

    Yeah well – I maintain political science is another oxymoron. And that Psephology uses statistics! Need I say more? :)

    And as long as I’m commenting…
    @44. JJ (the other one) – You’re example of acupuncture is an excellent case showing why science is not political. Regardless of the politically motivated “studies” touting its effectiveness, once properly studied, it was shown to be placebo. No matter what a particular group of scientists said at one time, or the motivation of their political bosses, the science followed the truth.

  93. Jess Tauber

    Obviously its Commie Pinko Left-Wing Space Aliens causing global climate change- it really IS a conspiracy. They want to bankrupt the honest, decent, hard-working right wing moneyed class and impose their own Star-Trekky ‘bettering ourselves’ amonetary philosophy on the planet, along with a single world government. WE CAN’T LET THEM. If they win, before long we’ll have cross-sex and cross-species marriages, fluoridated water, ape-human hybrids, and lowered retirement ages!!!! Cats and dogs lying together!!!! Racial and gender equality!!! Minimum wages!!!! Civil rights and unions!!!!

  94. John Carter

    SO…all these gamma ray thingys just started a couple hundred years ago?

    Somehow, I’d expect if they were around bombarding us for say, 4 billion of the earth’s years, our atmosphere would be pretty warm by now, doncha think?

    Did the Dinos find a way to cool the earth so they could all commit dinocide?

    Maybe the article really meant “comic rays.” I understand those can produce much more methane from the eathuns laughing so hard they all fart big time.

  95. jeff

    So if man is the cause, how do you explain this?

    “Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.”

    OH wait, we did send those two rovers. Global Warming “scientists” that long ago threw out the “scientific method” need to stop screaming “denier” at everyone else and admit it’s all about the MONEY. You get grants, so you already have a conflict of interest.

  96. Terry

    @82

    I freely admit that my research is incomplete and invite further education.

    When, apparently, a fraction of the container ships on the planet out-pollute every single car on the planet – it seems to me that direct individual efforts – even if universally made – are of dubious benefit.

    I’m not convinced that natural gas & modern nuclear power are significantly less environmentally friendly than wind or solar – but concede that coal is crap. I’m not convinced that carbon capture & storage is the way to go; and every major international political initiative seems … incomplete.

    AGW is real; therefore what? What is the best method to proceed to deal with it?

  97. carbonUnit

    Did I miss something about the variability of cosmic radiation? WOULD moving in or out of denser parts of the galaxy produce significant variation? Is it plausible that the level of cosmic rays just happened to increase sharply at the start of our industrial revolution, in step with the spike in the CO2 level? If the cosmic ray level is more or less steady over hundreds of thousands of years or more, then it might be an interesting factor in our climate, but not our current climate change concerns.

  98. Ozonator aka Robert Rhodes

    In the last few days, I have noticed that extremist Republicans and Christians and corporate horror media outlets are working overtime to double their usual output of the same, old misinformation. Previously, such increases were solely due to increased public awareness of AGW disasters like Irene and the Virginia quake. 5-Watts has gone so far to notice current hurricane ecosystems. Coasttocoast a couple of nights ago had a full program of Tim Ball. Even news.yahoo.com/science has slowed their usual output of real news.

  99. Keith Bowden

    @dense_mattr (65)
    Um… Calm down, it’s okay. Read Renee’s post again (#4) – Note that it’s humorously sarcastic in tone. Considering how much of the opposition to rational thought comes from fundamentalists and lobbyists, it’s a legitimate poke. (You’ve named yourself well, dm!) :)

  100. Pulsar

    Greenman3610 uploaded an interview with the scientist who did the study:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXx62NhSkt8

  101. shunt1

    When I was living in New Mexico, I wanted to measure the background radiation level. A simple Cloud Chamber was easy to make, using an aquarium, alchohol and some dry ice.

    Here is a YouTube video of a basic Cloud Chamber:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pewTySxfTQk&feature=related

    Whan atomic particles passed through my home built Cloud Chamber, small cloud streaks would form. Many of those atomic particles are created by cosmic rays and will increase with elevation.

    So, can anyone please explain to me how atomic particles are too small to form clouds?

    This CERN experiment is how proper science should be conducted. Nobody knew what the results would be and the experiment results will take months or years to fully understand. Experiment and analyze the actual raw data obtained and publish the results.

    Once again, Phil has demonstrated his religious beliefs and ignored the basic principles of scientific investigation. Do not call someone a poopyhead because the raw data does not fit your favorite computer models!

  102. shunt1

    Here is an actual video of what I have seen many times with my own equipment.

    Cosmic Rays in a Diffusion Cloud Chamber:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QWbvkbCQyM&feature=related

    So once again, can anyone explain to me why cosmic rays could not help to form high altitude clouds?

    With my personal cloud chamber, I used an aquarium so that I could view the trajectory from the side. Cloud streaks originating from the top could be attributed to cosmic rays.

    The CERN experiment was to test if the same thing would happen with standard high altitude atmospheric conditions on Earth.

    The preliminary results were positive, but it will take months or years to fully analyze the raw data.

  103. In the 1970’s, a window was broken.
    Yet my brother was not born in the 1970’s.
    Therefore, my brother did not break a window yesterday.

    (alternate version)

    In New Zealand, a window was broken.
    Yet my brother has never been to New Zealand.
    Therefore, my brother did not break a window at his home in Greece.

    (alternate version)

    A window was broken.
    Yet we all know that windows break all the time.
    Therefore, my brother did not break the window.

    Climate denier talking points: All of them are taken from the same big bag of stupid.

  104. Tim

    “here are the facts”
    “And finally, approximately 97% of climatologists who actually study climate agree that global warming is real, and caused by humans.”

    Back in the 1600’s approximately 97% of Astronomers agreed the world was the center of the universe.

    Back in 1900’s approximately 97% of the worlds scientific minds agreed light was a wave that traveled through a substance called the luminiferous aether.

    Isn’t there a word for that, oh yes consensus.
    Consensus is not fact.

  105. shunt1

    Two and a half hours later, my comments are still awaiting moderation.

    Interesting, since I provided two YouTube videos of cloud chambers and how atomic particles can create clouds.

    Why did I use cloud instead of bubble chambers? Because cloud chambers are based upon cold temperatures and are a better example of high altitude atmospheric conditions.

    “the effect of cosmic rays by themselves is too low to trigger cloud formation at the rates actually seen in our atmosphere.”

    That was a rather bold statement to make, when even CERN has not completed their data analysis.

    The next time you view a jet flying over your home and leaving a long contrail, please take the time to contemplate the physics involved. Often, that long cloud may last up to an hour after it’s initial formation.

    At high altitudes, it does not take much to create clouds, and that is the basic concept behind cloud seeding.

  106. John Sandlin

    Shunt1, your videos are probably awaiting moderation because of multiple links. I think Phil as to release those manually – and he’s travelling so isn’t getting too much time to take care of the lingering moderation details.

    jbs

  107. Ozonator aka Robert Rhodes

    To activate the extremist Republican and Christian “science” machine, stand on grave of Jesus, do some of Looter Limbaugh’s illegal oxycontin/viagra, and turn yellow Canadian snow into corporate US dollars —

    “Suppose an ossuary – an ancient burial box – containing the skeletal remains of Jesus of Nazareth was discovered. … something similar may be happening in the climate change debate … 63 scientists from CERN … would seem to prove that the sun … cosmic rays penetrating our atmosphere … cloud formation … the CERN team found human CO2 emissions have little or no impact” (“Lorne Gunter: The sun shines some light on global warming orthodoxy”; fullcomment.nationalpost.com, 9/1/11).

  108. Impulse725

    @98:

    “The empirical evidence isn’t conclusive on whether global warming is happening on Mars. However, to answer the question on whether the sun is causing Earth’s global warming, there is plentiful data on solar activity and Earth’s climate. Many papers have examined this data, concluding the correlation between sun and climate ended in the 70’s when the modern global warming trend began.

    So the argument that Martian warming disproves anthropogenic global warming fails on two points – there is little empirical evidence that Mars is warming and Mars’ climate is primarily driven by dust and albedo, not solar variations.”

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on-mars-basic.htm

    I also notice this is a 5 year old argument that apparently isn’t taken very seriously. There was a NASA scientist, as in singular, on the study. Their findings were based on measurements from 1977 and 1999 from analyzing pictures. That’s not a whole lot of data, it’s the calculated temperatures of two DAYS on mars over 22 years.

  109. Joseph G

    Hi shunt1. To be fair, all comments with links are moderated, and sometimes those moderators can be pokey.
    Still, I for one very much enjoy the fact that in my months of participating in the BA comments, I have yet to see a single piece of spam or a misleadingly labeled link to “goatse” or etc. :)

    EDIT: Oops, John beat me to it. Yeah, if Phil is the one doing the moderating, we’re going to be waiting awhile. I didn’t even think of that.
    Much as I like the ease of posting here, it might be cool to have a “trusted user” system, where if you’ve participated (and behaved) for a certain amount of time, your links bypass moderation.
    Just a sugggestion for whoever it is who handles the moderation…

  110. Nigel Depledge

    Spence_UK (90) said:

    As you can see, the direct effect of CO2 is outside of the IPCC sensitivity range. How do they do that? Well, they invoke feedbacks. There are many feedbacks, but the two main ones assumed are (1) albedo feedback and (2) water vapour feedback. These are assumed to amplify the direct CO2 effect by up to six times what the simple physics tells us will happen.

    It is these feedbacks that I assume Mike is calling into question. Without the feedbacks, the warming due to CO2 is fairly trivial and not an immediate concern. The feedbacks themselves, whilst plausible, do not have a wealth of evidence supporting them. Certainly nothing like the sort of evidence, or confidence, that we have about CO2 alone.

    Ah, I see.

    Although, we do have some pretty good evidence about the albedo feedback, from recent glaciation and interglacial periods. However, I guess you could be right in terms of that feedback not being numerically nailed down with any precision. Having said that, I would not call this or the water vapour feedback “massive” as Mike did. Certainly, they are modest in comparison to the threat posed by melting permafrost and the release of methane clathrates from the deep ocean.

  111. Nigel Depledge

    Terry (99) said:

    I’m not convinced that natural gas & modern nuclear power are significantly less environmentally friendly than wind or solar – but concede that coal is crap.

    Using natural gas is still taking fossil carbon out of the ground and putting it into the air. So, while it’s nowhere near as bad as coal, it’s not as close to carbon-neutral as wind, solar and nuclear. And bear in mind that power stations based on wind and nuclear both require large quantities of concrete, which comes with a hefty carbon footprint (but they are carbon-neutral thereafter).

  112. Nigel Depledge

    @ Cedric Katesby (103) –

    LOL! :-)

    Sad, but true.

  113. Nigel Depledge

    Shunt1 (104) said:

    “the effect of cosmic rays by themselves is too low to trigger cloud formation at the rates actually seen in our atmosphere.”

    That was a rather bold statement to make, when even CERN has not completed their data analysis.

    The next time you view a jet flying over your home and leaving a long contrail, please take the time to contemplate the physics involved. Often, that long cloud may last up to an hour after it’s initial formation.

    What, so you’re saying that high-altitude jets emit cosmic rays, or what?

    Here’s a thought for you to consider: maybe jet engines make clouds because of all that hot water vapour they kick out*. Didja think of that?

    * Hydrocarbons such as kerosene contain hydrogen as well as carbon. When they are burnt in an oxygen-containing atmosphere, they produce CO2 and water. And, unless they are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (which we don’t use much as fuels), they produce much more water than they do CO2, stoichiometrically.

  114. Tim G

    Eventually, conservatives may concede that global warming is due to some sort of intervention. They’ll proclaim it’s punishment from God for not stopping the liberal agenda.

  115. PatJ

    Ugh. The National Post just upped the ante. Warning, read this and your head may explode: the article compares the lack of evidence that Jesus wasn’t just a guy with the current “settled science” on climate change.

    This in a mainstream newspaper in Canada.

    http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/Unsettling%2Bscience/5342944/story.html

  116. Chris Ar

    I read this article, then read the CERN findings and I remain convinced that my skeptical view of the AGW crowd is well-grounded. CERN most definitely hints that cosmic ray cloud formation is a strong element in climate change, an element none of the popular computer models account for. When did Discovery abandon science for theology and dogma?

    This website is a joke.

  117. Jess Tauber

    Actually the liberal agenda is punishment from God for not stopping global warming.

  118. Paul

    I think the author here is missing an important point. Nobody is saying cosmic rays are the ONLY thing that effect cloud formation. However, this study ONLY studied the effect of cosmic rays. If increased cosmic rays increase nucleation, this would ADD TO the other effects and result in more clouds.

    It’s exactly the same logic used by global warming alarmists with respect to feedbacks.

  119. Gunnar

    @#86. Joseph G & # 87. ColinC

    I readily concede that either or both of you could very well be right. Thanks for your comments!

  120. Tom Drenich

    Isn’t it great to see the other side of a debate getting rejected from the comments, that really lets the cat out of the bag and lets you see who is bsing, eh Phil.

  121. Joseph G

    @125 Tom Drenich: So if third-party readers (us) want to call other readers on some mistakes (or just plain buls**t), this shows that Phil is quashing debate? I just want to get clear on this, because if you’re saying what I think you’re saying, it’s effing ridiculous.
    You have a right to freedom of speech – you don’t have the right to expect other people to refrain from disagreeing with you.

  122. Mike G

    Shunt1,
    Do you think the fact that you’re using alcohol vapor in your cloud chamber has any effect in the results? Try using good old water vapor instead. I bet your tracks are a lot less spectacular (as in non-existent).

  123. Back in the 1600′s approximately 97% of Astronomers agreed the world was the center of the universe.

    Back in 1900′s approximately 97% of the worlds scientific minds agreed that germs caused disease.

    Isn’t there a word for that, oh yes consensus.
    Consensus is not fact.

    Back in the 1600′s approximately 97% of Astronomers agreed the world was the center of the universe.

    Back in 1900′s approximately 97% of the worlds scientific minds agreed that Evolution was real.
    Isn’t there a word for that, oh yes consensus.
    Consensus is not fact.

    Back in the 1600′s approximately 97% of Astronomers agreed the world was the center of the universe.

    Back in 1900′s approximately 97% of the worlds scientific minds agreed that the Earth revolved around the sun. Isn’t there a word for that, oh yes consensus.
    Consensus is not fact.

    Climate deniers: Feel the dumb.

  124. realta fuar

    It’s possible I missed it, though I did do a search: if one wants to find out what real climate scientists think of this work (hint: it’s quite good), then the first choice is always the real climate blog (not giving the url so maybe this won’t end up in moderation). Phil did pretty well for an amateur though (although I do wonder if he failed to give credit where credit is due??). Also, just as “it ain’t the sun”, “it ain’t volcanoes either” (see the same blog for a very readable post, again by a professional in the field, on the latter point).

  125. Okay just have to, have to weigh in on this.

    I accept the IPCC findings – however, if you don’t want the other side to call you an Inquisition or a Cult, quit doing things like forcing respected scientists to resign over publishing dissenting papers in impact journals.

    Got that?

    This is not science. This is politics.

  126. …quit doing things like forcing respected scientists to resign over publishing dissenting papers in impact journals.

    The really clever thing is how they managed to completely cover their tracks.
    Trust no-one my friends, trust no-one!

  127. Yes The GCR ‘theory’ of weather and climate is delusional nonsense. Do have a look at this VID on Climate Realists with comments – Summer Review – Hurr Irene – CERN CLOUD comment – CALL for scrutiny of all forecasters http://climaterealists.com/8295

  128. Hugo Schmidt

    The really clever thing is how they managed to completely cover their tracks.

    Oh really, Cedric?

    What’s this then?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14768574

    If it matters – and it does – there have been papers in Science arguing about the effect of clouds and how it’s unsure.

  129. John

    If global warming is caused by people, would the solution be to reduce global human population to what it was before the industrial revolution? Fewer people equals less global warming?

  130. @Hugo Shmidt

    Oh really, Cedric?
    What’s this then?

    (…looks at article…)

    What of it? How do you figure that into the conspiracy? What are the nuts and bolts of the operation?

    quit doing things like forcing respected scientists to resign over publishing dissenting papers in impact journals.

    So spill the beans. How did “they” actually “force” a respected scientist to resign?
    (Mind control? Holding a gun to his child’s head? Offers of hot sex? What?)

    He wrote a resignation letter and published it. Doesn’t say a word about anybody forcing him to do anything. You are just making stuff up to suit yourself.
    Unless…
    Unless…
    “They” got him to fake the resignation letter?
    (….Insert spooky music here…)
    Yes, of course. The conspiracy is more powerful than any of us realised. Yet they managed to cover their tracks perfectly. Right down to the forged letter. They probably went to the trouble of brainwashing Wagner too so that he would not recant his letter.
    You have to admit, they’re good. The diabolical genius of it all.

  131. If global warming is caused by people, would the solution be to reduce global human population to what it was before the industrial revolution? Fewer people equals less global warming?

    If lung cancer is caused by people smoking cigarettes, would the solution be to reduce global human population to what it was before people started smoking cigarettes? Fewer people equals less lung cancer, right?

    Climate deniers: The dumb walk amongst us.

  132. Cedric,

    Only you have used the word “conspiracy”.

    Please take a look at what’s actually said:

    Wolfgang Wagner, editor of Remote Sensing journal, says he agrees with their criticisms and is stepping down.

    Very scientific. Simply publish something that disagrees and get hounded out of your job. This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this happen, and I’ve read plenty of papers that are such obvious snow-jobs I wonder how they got past the reviewers. But in this case – and I have read the paper – arguments, not from the peer-review process, not responses in the usual way, but internet arguments, the cheapest argument imaginable, is supposed to provoke him to step down? Get real. This has mobbing written all over it.

    So, not only has a good man’s career been wrecked, scientific discourse itself get’s poisoned. Wonderful. Lovely day’s work. This is a disgrace that is hard to grasp.

    Though, I have to qualify my comments on the man. If he had any guts he would have said: “If you’ve got a problem with the paper, write one of your own refuting it. I’m standing behind my journal”

  133. Yes why don’t we just chuck out the system of peer-review and publication? Let’s just decide on science by who can be the biggest loudmouth online. Hey, easy way to boost my publication record! I just type something up and get it posted on HuffPo/FreeReupublic, and add it.

    I am having trouble putting my disgust at this nonsense into words.

  134. Simply publish something that disagrees and get hounded out of your job.

    Then why didn’t he say that in his resignation letter?
    Did someone hold a gun to his head to force him to not say that?
    Hmm.
    He stated his reasons very clearly in plain English. Nowhere does he claim that somebody forced him to resign. That’s all coming from you. It was his decision to make and he did it to make a statement. You are engaging in spin. Read his letter.

    His letter made it clear that the problem was not that the paper disagreed with anything.
    You are making things up or some blog planted that idea in your head.
    Read the letter itself as opposed to letting people tell you what it said.
    Read it in full.
    The man can speak for himself using his own words.

    So, not only has a good man’s career been wrecked, scientific discourse itself get’s poisoned.

    You get all that from an editor resigning? Hyperbole much?

    If he had any guts he would have…

    So, when an editor resigns for something that is published in a journal, it’s because he’s “gutless”? There’s never a case of an editor resigning because he genuinely screwed up for letting a crappy paper slip past the peer-reveiw process thereby calling the integrity of the journal into question?
    Ah.

    This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this happen…

    No, that won’t do. This is standard fare for deniers. It’s all about the headline and the “Help, help, we’re being oppressed!!”

  135. Nigel Depledge

    John (136) said:

    If global warming is caused by people, would the solution be to reduce global human population to what it was before the industrial revolution? Fewer people equals less global warming?

    The trouble is, John, that it’s not people exactly, its our activities – specifically, intensive agriculture, making cement and burning fossil fuels – that have caused the recent increase in global temperatures. Fewer people who burn more resources would have the same effect. Conversely, the same number of people burning fewer resources would have a lesser effect than we currently do.

  136. Nigel Depledge

    Hugo Schmidt (139) said:

    Very scientific. Simply publish something that disagrees and get hounded out of your job.

    The text you quoted does not support this thesis.

    According to your quote, Wagner agreed with criticisms of his work, and is stepping down as a consequence. That’s pretty much the long and the short of it.

    Criticism – sometimes pretty vehement and intensive – is a part of the scientific process. The case for AGW has been through this process and survived. How did it do this? By getting better data and more support more more different threads of evidence. Now there is a consensus among climatologists. To the best of our knowledge, AGW is real.

    In contrast, Wagner must realise that his work is flawed. If he were still convinced that his conclusions were sound (i.e. if he disagreed with the criticism of his work) he would not step down, as this is just a normal part of the process of doing science. Where does he speak of being “hounded” (your word)? Does he allude to being pressured to resign? Does he name anyone who levels unreasonable or unjust criticism at his work?

    In short, you have claimed one thing but then failed to deliver the goods.

  137. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Drenich (125) said:

    Isn’t it great to see the other side of a debate getting rejected from the comments

    What debate?

    On the one hand, you have the fact (as far as anyone can tell) that AGW is a real phenomenon. On the other hand, you have obfuscation and a smear campaign to discredit good-quality, sound science. This is not a debate.

    What we should do to remediate AGW – that’s a debate that we absolutely should be having.

  138. Hugo Schmidt

    Cedric,

    You are really working my last good nerve here. I repeat: I have seen plenty of crummy papers in my time, I have not seen any behavior like this. Heck, in my field forty years of research just came tumbling down, and the assumption of honesty holds. People have just kept straight on working.

    More importantly, notice what is not happening. That paper – if it so flawed – is not being retracted. I doubt that it would be. The reason being that I can apply a number of the criticisms made by the chaps at RealClimate where this heat is coming from, to papers published in the most topline journals.

    Nigel,

    Criticism – sometimes pretty vehement and intensive – is a part of the scientific process. The case for AGW has been through this process and survived. How did it do this? By getting better data and more support more more different threads of evidence. Now there is a consensus among climatologists. To the best of our knowledge, AGW is real.

    Thank you for telling me what I already know. I knew that already, and you can find me hammering that point home repeatedly.

    What is not, however, agreed on at all is how much, to what extent, what precise feedback mechanisms are in play, what proportion is human caused, what the effects will be, what we can do about it, etc.

    That’s the reason I’m so ticked here. I firmly believe that it’s not what you think, but how you think. Let’s take the papers central argument, for the sake of the argument, that radiative forcing is much more important than we thought. Let’s say that global warming is 75% radiative forcing, 25% manmade, for example. Is that comforting? No; it means that there’s even less we can do about it, and that it might take a lot less to push us over a limit where something really horrible happens.

    One way of looking at things, to be sure. It’s the start of at least a possible investigation, and a line of argument, one now disbarred. Terrific.

  139. I repeat: I have seen plenty of crummy papers in my time, I have not seen any behavior like this.

    Ah, short term memory loss.
    That’s not what you claimed on this thread.

    …quit doing things like forcing respected scientists to resign over publishing dissenting papers in impact journals.

    How did “they” go about “forcing” anyone to resign?
    Was the problem that the paper “dissented”?

    Very scientific. Simply publish something that disagrees and get hounded out of your job.

    According to Wagner himself, nobody forced him to do anything.
    According to WAgner himself, the problem was not that the paper “dissented” anything. In fact, he specifically addressed that idea and dismissed it.
    You are just making stuff up.
    There was no “hounding”.
    Read the letter and stop trying to spin his words. Let the man speak for himself.

    Unless…
    Unless…
    You believe that the letter he himself wrote was faked by “them”?

    I have seen plenty of crummy papers in my time, I have not seen any behavior like this.

    This has happened before. It’s nothing new. Spencer is doing what he always does. The man was considered a joke well before this latest scandalously bad paper. He’ll do it again someday soon.
    (shrug)

  140. Stinky Buttdog

    OK once you took a political stand and started referring to people as Global Warming Deniers you lost all credibility. You can not be objective in your comments making your whole story suspect. If you can write an objective article then it might be worth reading but apparently you have chosen consensus over science.

  141. Cedric,

    If I have been unclear, let me make it more clear. I have never seen anything like this, except in response to massively politicized situations. There is one parallel that springs to mind, that of the unfortunate case of Dr. Greenfield:

    Recently, Surgery News, the official journal of the American College of Surgeons, published a piece by its editor-in-chief, Lazar Greenfield, examining research into the benefits to women of . . . well, let Dr. Greenfield explain it:

    They found ingredients in semen that include mood enhancers like estrone, cortisol, prolactin, oxytocin, and serotonin; a sleep enhancer, melatonin; and, of course, sperm, which makes up only 1%-5%. Delivering these compounds into the richly vascularized vagina also turns out to have major salutary effects for the recipient.

    As this was the Valentine’s issue, Dr. Greenfield concluded on a “light-hearted” note:
    Now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.

    Oh, my. When the complaints started rolling in from lady doctors, Surgery News withdrew the entire issue. All of it. Gone. Then Dr. Greenfield apologized. Then he resigned as editor. Then he apologized some more. Then he resigned as president-elect of the American College of Surgeons. The New York Times solemnly reported that Dr. Barbara Bass, chairwoman of the department of surgery at Methodist Hospital in Houston, declared she was “glad Dr. Greenfield had resigned.” But Dr. Colleen Brophy, professor of surgery at Vanderbilt University, said “the resignation would not end the controversy.”

    Your link proves the point. The only reason there are these resignations is because of the politically charged nature of the trouble. You can say, “Oh but James Inhofe will take this and go – ” who gives a damn what Inhofe or any other politco/thinktank/commentator thinks? This is Science, not politics.

    I would quite happily explain to anyone who tried it on that one paper does not trump the IPCC consensus, any more than, for that matter, people like Hansen and their work does.

    Finally

    The man was considered a joke well before this latest scandalously bad paper.

    Yes, a “joke” who publishes in Science and Geophysics Research Letters. If you want to trash his work, get degree and get published in the journals, because that is where the debate happens.

    And yes, I do know that he is a creationist whackjob. That’s not the point. I’m not defending the man or the paper, but the process. I do not want to wake up in world where scientific debate is determined by the blogosphere.

  142. If I have been unclear, let me make it more clear.

    But you were clear. I keep quoting you all the time to make sure there’s no mistake.

    …quit doing things like forcing respected scientists to resign over publishing dissenting papers in impact journals.
    (…)
    Very scientific. Simply publish something that disagrees and get hounded out of your job.

    You are wrong. This is all your own spin.
    Nobody forced Wagner to resign. READ Wagner’s letter of resignation.
    Nobody hounded him. Read WAGNER’S letter of resignation.
    His resignation was not a question of publishing a dissenting paper.
    Read HIS resignation letter.
    How hard can it be? Sheesh.

    The only reason there are these resignations is because of the politically charged nature of the trouble.

    Then I look forward to you presenting primary evidence from the actual resigners themselves in their own words that back up your assertion. I don’t really care about anything else.

    Anything that is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.-Christopher Hitchins.

    I do not want to wake up in world where scientific debate is determined by the blogosphere.

    It isn’t and it hasn’t been in this case. Read the damn resignation letter. Spencer was not doing anything new. The flaws in his paper were painfully obvious even without the help of the blogosphere. Again, read the resignation letter. It’s all explained in his own words.

  143. xGOPinNEOhio

    Good read, does address most issues, but remember were talking about cosmic forces (God) so you better watch out Rick Parry don’t sick his followers on you.
    It is amazing how those media outlets that do their best to ensure ignorant Americans will side with the ideas, on anything to prove that our president or past president by popular vote are wrong. It is true that more cloud cover does have a blanket effect and helps keep the earth warmer, and that greenhouse gases keeps us from being a snowball however there’s a balance and we have been tipping that scale for a over 100 yrs, and of course once some regulation comes in and reduces some of the poisons we put in our air, water and ground its all job killers. Just like this crazy notion that as the ground gets warmer above freezing the moisture evaporates, and as heating increases so does evaporation, and by darn soon if you have too much heat and not enough precipitation you have a drought, and then comes the wild fires. Not to be mean because families have been destroyed by the forces of nature but its seems interesting that the ones in the US who suffer the most from this fabricated climate change idea are the ones who live in the Bible Belt Red States, not to say we don’t get the massive rain fall we keep getting from being sucked out of the neighboring states and deposited on our heads, the idea of the100 year flood is now almost every other year now.
    I will admit that some of the progressive’s ideas seems a little far fetched and that theirnot staying on message and the sometimes apparent smugness on some issues hurts them, remember what happened to South Park when everyone started driving Prius’ LOL

    I hope we can one day truly harness the forces this planet receives and gives, sometimes I believe that if it were not for certain religious powers we would be a couple hundred years further in our technology, imagine what life would have been like if Einstein had the use of something like Hubble Telescope or Nikola Tesla the use of the many instruments and materials we have today?

    Keep create ideas to move us forward, progressive ideas are not cancerous.

  144. xGOPinNEOhio

    Take it another step further how about we view the Earth with the weather satellites, during Corona Mass Ejections from the sun, and lets see what happens to the cloud cover and water vapor imagery when that additional solar energy hits our atmosphere.

  145. Canof Sand

    So… the study doesn’t say what the study says it says, nor what its authors say it says? No, it says what you, a proven agenda-driven blogger, say it says. And I’m just supposed to trust you, instead, a known and documented purveyor of lies and hateful smears, rather than them. You, who considers ClimateGate “manufactured” and the “case closed” because the “investigation” carried out by the one of the very organizations that perpetrated the problem says so. Riiiight. I dunno if you’ve looked at the polls recently, but… you’re losing the argument. Hence the recent Al Gore tantrums.

  146. Nigel Depledge

    Hugo Schmidt (146) said:

    Thank you for telling me what I already know. I knew that already, and you can find me hammering that point home repeatedly.

    This did not seem to be what your comments were saying. Apologies if I misunderstood.

  147. VPK

    The reason the Financial Times (and also the Wall Street Journal) headlined the article was to create doubt in the reading publics minds. This is just part of a campaign by monied interests to stop any action on Global Warming. The damage has been done. Will both (and others) publish a correction?

  148. Randolph Ortlieb

    I will remain a vigorous skeptic until someone can explain to me the many recorded instances of major prehistoric global warming without any human CO2 ;-) Work on it and let me know please…

  149. Undeniable

    117. Nigel Depledge Says:

    What, so you’re saying that high-altitude jets emit cosmic rays, or what?

    According to this paper:

    D.J. Travis, A. Carleton and R.G. Lauritsen, “Contrails reduce daily temperature range”,

    the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures rose during the three-day grounding of aircraft following the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

  150. Lemuel Franco

    #158, whoa! Tea party supporter and NRA member conservative blogs really are truthful, and aren’t biassed to an extreme degree are they?

  151. Lemuel Franco

    #77, Confused wrote:

    “Look at Nigel Calder’s credentials – one can’t dismiss him.”

    No, one can’t dismiss the fact that he is a journalist with a book to sell, rather than a climate scientist. Or that he often goes off on paranoid rants about how mainstream science stifles nay sayers but provides little evidence for such activities.

    http://safle.org/wordpress/2007/02/20/a-graph-that-suggests-nigel-calder-is-wrong-on-climate-change.html

    Here is a good rebuttal of Calders’ opinions.

    http://www.frogworth.com/stuart/blog/?p=43

  152. mrb

    You SAYING something is a “fact” –does NOT make it a fact. Controlled, reproducible, scientific experimentation makes it a fact. That is what CERN is doing. That is what IPCC has NOT done. That is what you have not done. We are supposed to be scientists. Not propagandists. To believe the IPCC theory– and it is and only will ever be a theory not a fact– you have to believe the sun has no bearing on the world climate. That cosmic radiation and cloud formation have no bearing on the world climate. That just isn’t true. And doesn’t even make sense. Let the science speak for itself and quit trying to make truth by opinion instead of experimentation.

  153. WayneJ

    The pre industrial CO2 ppm was found to be 334 ppm in a study released around 1955. The wet chemistry method of atmospheric CO2 determinations has been denied by the global warmists. These deniers refuse to accept the voracity of the chemists results and have substituted their own low-balled ice core/tree ring data.
    The wet chemistry analysis has been cross checked with plant stomata studies with very good results. So, the increase in CO2 has really been 390-334=56 ppm. The atmosphere’s CO2 is not in a mixed steady state in the lower troposphere. This too is a falsification of the facts.

  154. Eddy

    I think some of the changes in earths climate are more to do with how we’ve physically changed land surfaces of the planet. For instance if surfaces are darkened through agricultural activities or more recently, through the laying of vast areas of concrete and the expansion of urban areas, this will change local climates. More heat then can be absorbed and released into the atmosphere. A lot of this extra heat has been absorbed by the oceans. This is only a fraction of the storey. The sun has been very active over the decades, resulting in a thicker ozone layer over much of the planet, especially near the equator. It also has an insulating affect on the earth. Another factor is infact cloud cover. The earth is covered in 60-70% cloud, which really keeps our climate quite cool. Increases in solar activity, the expansion of the suns heliosphere, does slow down the rate of high energy protons and nuclei from entering the atompshere. There is some very good data out there, that shows the correlation between cosmic rays and global temperatures on the earth. Data from iron meteorites, trees and glacial ice at the poles and high mountains record variations in a type of carbon 14. This carbon 14 in produced through the bombardment of gas molecules in the atmosphere.
    Then there is the affect UV light has on the stratosphere. When solar activity is high plenty of ozone is being produced releasing heat into the stratosphere. When the stratosphere cools due to lack of UV it cools unevenly….simply because it impacts equatorial regions more quickly. Near the poles stratospheric temperatures are more stable. So we can quickly end up with a situation where parts of the stratosphere near the poles can be warmer than the stratoshere nearer the equator. Pressure gradients can change i.e the occurance of high pressure areas over the north atlantic and the weakening the the polar vortex due to a warmer upper atmosphere at the poles.
    C02 alone does have a greenhouse affect, but on it’s own it is tiny. If the planet is warmed and especially if the oceans are warmed, more co2 is going to be released into the atmoshere. However given the right conditions the oceans can absorb all the co2 humans have released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial age.
    There’s many factors contributing to our warming planet, but saying that humans are responsible for all of it….smacks of ignorance and a kind of closed minded self serving need to claim power over our environment.

  155. Greg Goodknight

    Had the politically incorrect (CERN and the IPCC are neighbors) CLOUD experiment not had its funding yanked circa 1998, we’d be eight years ahead of where we are now.

    One person above mentions astrophysicist Nir Shaviv, also one of the signers of the recent Wall Street Journal letter. His finding a decade ago the orbit of our solar system clearly matches the amounts of carbon 14 (created in the upper atmosphere by the impact of galactic cosmic rays) that appear in our ecosystem, and that also matched the findings of geochemist Jan Veizer who was on the verge of abandoning his studies of oxygen isotope ratios of ocean shellfish. His temperature graph of nearly the entire Phanerozoic, the last 500+ million years of visible life on the planet, didn’t match anything he could find, especially CO2, which is what he was expecting.

    The correlation with CO2 was poor, but the correlation with galactic cosmic rays was phenomenal. See “Celestial driver of Phanerozoic climate?” Shaviv & Veizer 2003. Integrated over literally tens of thousands of solar cycles and 100’s of Milankovich cycles, the effects of GCR are shown to be the cause of the *averaged* temps of equatorial oceans to vary by about 7C.. There is no possible way for GCR not to be the cause, because there’s absolutely no possibility that the temps of our oceans caused stars to go supernovae, the source of those GCR, millions of years earlier. Perhaps the Bad Astronomer can prove that wrong but I suspect that is beyond even his ability to conjure up.

    There have been a number of advances in physics contrary to “the consensus” since the IPCC set off to show how bad CO2 was. Svensmark’s SKY paved the way for CLOUD’s funding to be reinstated. There have since been (Svensmark again) clear indications that short term decreases in GCR called Forbush events cause significant drops in low level cloud volume and moisture content. There have been a number of other important papers starting with Friis-Christensen’s 1991 paper showing a good correlation of solar cycle length and world temperatures, but it was Svensmark that the Bad Astronomer just couldn’t bring himself to name in the sixth paragraph in the post that started this thread:
    http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jul/the-discover-interview-henrik-svensmark/

    Eventually the effort to demonize CO2 will stop. It was something like 2000ppm when our earliest mammalian ancestors were scampering about on all fours in the Triassic park, and we’ll run out of cost effective fossil fuels long before it gets halfway there.

  156. Carl Pham

    Amazing. You savage the press for leaping from the point that “cosmic rays affect cloud formation, and hence may influence changing climate temps” — which is just as basic physics and incontrovertible as the point that “carbon dioxide has a good-size IR cross section, and may influence changing climate temps” — to the wholly unjustifed conclusion that “global warming is caused by cosmic rays!” and then in the very same esay summarize your case for anthropogenic combustion-drive climate change with (1) correlation = causation (“The rate of warming has increased in the past century or so. This corresponds to the time of the Industrial Revolution”) and (2) an appeal to authority (“approximately 97% of climatologists who actually study climate agree that global warming is real, and caused by humans”).

    Wow. I thought when you called this blog “Bad Science” you were referring to the science of others!

  157. @ ^ Carl Pham : It is.

    (1) Its what the scientific evidence actually shows especially from the 1970’s or so onwards. There’s lots of empirical carefully observed and recorded data all trending in the same directions. All indicating that basic physics i.e. the interaction of carbon dioxide and other molecules with thermal radiation is doing what physics predicts it will.

    Sometimes corelation *does* indicate causation – especially if there’s a well understood mechanism and science behind it.

    (2) Sometimes appeal to authority is justified when we’re talking things like medicine, a doctor will know better than some guy in the pub, ditto for rocket science and the same principle also applies for climatology.

    Qualified experts who’ve dedicated years of their lives to studying in a given field are rightfully considered worth listening to when the discussion is about that field. Or do you think “we should stand up to the experts” as one republican politician famously claimed? :roll:

    If so, do you argue with your doctor, lawyer or accountant and think you know better than they do about the basics and details of their respective fields?

    @ 156. Randolph Ortlieb asked :

    I will remain a vigorous skeptic until someone can explain to me the many recorded instances of major prehistoric global warming without any human CO2 Work on it and let me know please…

    No worries – belated but who knows you may stumble on this again.

    Please see the link in my name : Climate Change isn’t it natural from Potholer54 on youtube explains your question very nicely and clearly I think.

    Climate change in the past has been naturally occurring but now it isn’t – there are a number of factors involved but currently human GreenHouse Gas emissions are the primary driver of climatic change.

    @165. Greg Goodknight :

    Eventually the effort to demonize CO2 will stop.

    Climatologist aren’t demonising co2 and it isn’t the only GHG.

    t was something like 2000ppm when our earliest mammalian ancestors were scampering about on all fours in the Triassic park, and we’ll run out of cost effective fossil fuels long before it gets halfway there.

    Our daytime star was a lot dimmer in the Triassic than it is now among many other relevant factors such as the continental configuration and the clip in my name has more on that more Co2 in past geological eras canard too. Basically, its not relevant to today’s conditions.

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