Upsetting people in the Festive Season

Hot Potato, Going Postal
© Going Postal 2020

Lots of your friends might be very upset this Christmas, Boris has decisively won the election and consequently we are definitely leaving the EU. To make their day you can also explain about why they are wrong about climate change. It’s really quite easy.

We know that climate change science is settled, the BBC keeps telling us so. Other science, on the other hand, continues to advance.

Have you ever wondered what causes lightning? Me neither – until recently – but it is fundamental to the understanding of what is influencing changes in temperature. The BBC Future website reported in 2012 “It seems hard to believe that we still don’t understand what causes lightning during thunderstorms – but that’s a fact.” Recent discoveries provide the explanation.

In terms of Physics it turns out that clouds are ‘seeded’ by high energy particles from outer space (although there are other mechanisms for cloud formation) and it has been demonstrated that these high energy particles ( Cosmic Rays) emanating from the Milky Way ionise the upper atmosphere which causes clouds to form. The key factor is the ionisation from these high voltage particles, with energies of more than 10 million electron volts which causes the formation of clouds. The energy in these particles doesn’t just vanish, but stays in the clouds until they are eventually ‘Earthed’  – as lightning in thunderstorms.  Research published by  the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark and research at CERN (the CLOUD project) validate the above.  That’s worth at least a point in a Pub quiz.

Clouds reflect sunshine away from Earth by a significant amount and reduce the Earth’s temperature. Cold wet conditions are cooler that hot dry conditions.

It follows that an increase in Cosmic Rays increases the amount of cloud cover and causes a reduction in Earth’s temperature. Conversely a reduction in Cosmic Rays allows temperatures on Earth to increase.   Variations in the level of Cosmic Rays, can and does account for temperature changes on Earth.  Since 2015 the level of Cosmic Rays has been increasing. These are medium term changes, not weather. Again Svensmark’s (and colleagues) research demonstrate this.

What about CO2?

By now, if you are explaining this to someone, they are probably bouncing up and down , saying ‘Rubbish’ and the science ‘proves’ climate change is caused by the increase in CO2 emissions.  The Cosmic Ray story is continued below, but first  the CO2 issue:

The Greenhouse effect, caused by CO2 has some validity, but the amount of its influence has been  been overstated by a least an order of magnitude. We are saying that they got the decimal point in the wrong place. (Svensmark)

In fairness in 1988 when the IPCC was founded none of the physics and astrophysics referred to here were known and the CO2 explanation was the only show in town. Temperatures were certainly increasing at that time, but crucially there was no way of verifying the results other than by climate modelling. Two points: – any model where the error of estimate is greater than the predicted value is of ‘limited use’. All climate models fall into this category, – models usually reflect the unconscious bias of the modeller. There is no way of verifying the predicted CO2 derived temperature change.

A more important question is why climate change science has not embraced these new discoveries. The IPCC, the EU’s climate change body and the UK’s  Committee on Climate Change hold no brief to investigate the causes of climate change other that which is man made. The UK Committee on Climate Change holds the sole brief to reduce CO2 emissions. The IPCC charter states:

“The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

They can not and do not look at anything else. Why they cannot look at anything other than “human-induced climate change” goes back to the IPCC’s roots and is curious at least. Ask your new MP why this is. The UK can change this after the end of January when we leave the EU.

Back to Cosmic Rays

Cosmic rays are part of the area of interest of Astrophysics. There have been large advances in man’s knowledge of the Sun over the past decade, part of which is that Cosmic rays are zapped by magnetic flux from the Sun. This magnetic flux is part of Solar emissions known for centuries as Sunspots. Hence the number of Cosmic Rays reaching Earth is influenced  by the number of Sunspots produced by the Sun, the higher the number of Sunspots the fewer clouds are formed by Cosmic Rays and the higher the Earth’s temperature.

Worth another point in the Pub Quiz is the rarely reported fact that the level of Sunspots in the second half of the 20th century was the highest for probably 1000 years – this was a time when Greenland attracted settlers in the Medieval Warm Period.

Astrophysicists have been studying Sunspots for centuries and their association with the Solar cycle. The number of Sunspots in a Solar cycle had been notoriously difficult to predict until recently when the code behind the dynamos in the Sun was ‘cracked’.  The inner workings of the Sun turned out to be much more complicated than previously thought and comprise no fewer than three dynamos rather than the single one previously assumed by some Astrophysicists .  These dynamos working together  vary the Sun’s magnetic output a great deal, ranging from nothing at all resulting in cool periods on Earth to sustained high output resulting in warm periods.

This dynamo formula of the Sun which shows the level of magnetic output has been run back in time and has shown magnetic activity to have a remarkable correlation with past climatic events. Running it forward in time shows a level of very low activity for the period 2020 – 2050, a cool period, in marked contrast to the 1955 – 1995  high activity period. Researching  the mathematician/Astrophysicist Valentina Zharkova provides the academic background for this. How cool this cool period is going to be is a matter of debate.

The IPCC’s models completely ignore Solar magnetic output. They only include Solar energy in the visible spectrum.

One final point: Barymetric Wobble

We are talking about the variation in the distance between the Sun  and Earth. This is getting into ‘Angels dancing on the head of a pin’  territory. Strictly speaking the centre of the Solar System is a point inside the Sun, which is the gravitational centre of the Sun and planets (barymetric centre). Because there are some very large Planets (Jupiter, Neptune…) which have an effect on the Sun, they pull it slightly towards them, meaning the distance between the Earth and Sun varies by about 1 million miles form its average orbit of 93 million miles. Effectively the Sun ‘wobbles’ about its barymetric centre. For the past 200 years the Earth has been getting closer to the Sun and will continue to do so until about 2600 when the distance will start to increase again. Certainly moving towards the Sun is not going to make the Earth cooler and estimates of warming from this factor are being disputed in the 0.5 °C to 1.0 °C per century range.

There you have it:

– Cosmic Rays cause clouds

– Magnetic emissions from the Sun disrupt Cosmic Rays

– Sunspot emissions cause magnetic emissions.

– Sunspot emissions vary depending on the state of the Solar Dynamos.

– Earth’s temperature variations (climate changes) follow the level of Sunspots.

– The Earth is moving slightly towards the Sun.

– The IPCC is concerned with none of the above, solely the relatively minor Greenhouse effect.

Happy Christmas Everybody !

© Hot Potato 2020

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