An estimated one billion people watched former Vice President Al Gore receive an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth. In this film about global warming, Gore uses slides from lectures he gives on this subject, personal anecdotes, and footage of collapsing Antarctic ice shelves, receding glaciers, and marooned polar bears to warn us that human-made greenhouse gases are heating the planet to dangerous levels. The principal greenhouse gas that humans make, burning coal, oil, and natural gas for energy, is carbon dioxide (CO2). (In 1750, at the beginning of the Industrial Era, the earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentration was 280 parts per million by volume. In 1960 it had risen to 315 ppmv, and it is now 383 ppmv.)
There is another theory of global warming and cooling that Gore does not address in An Inconvenient Truth. The Solar/Cosmic Ray Theory posits that cosmic rays, not humans, cause climate change. The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change (2007) by Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder is the first book to be published on this subject. Svensmark proposed this theory in 1996 and supplies the scientific input for the book. Calder, a British science writer, "strung the words together," as he puts it. He does this very well and explains Svensmark’s theory in an engaging and easily understandable way. It will be published in the U.S. March 25 (I obtained my copy from the UK, where it was published last month).
The Solar/Cosmic Ray Theory says that cosmic rays make clouds. Exploding stars continually spray the galaxy with cosmic rays, which consist of protons, alpha particles (helium nuclei), electrons, and muons (heavy electrons). The muons in this mix of atomic bullets make low-level (below 8,000 feet) clouds. They do this by knocking electrons off atoms and molecules in the air, and these liberated electrons seed the formation "cloud condensation nuclei." Water vapor in the atmosphere condenses on these specks to form cloud water droplets. The wet clouds thus formed block sunlight and reflect its rays back into space, which has a cooling effect. In 2006, Svensmark and colleagues showed experimentally how it is done, which involves adding sulfuric acid to these condensation nuclei. (Plankton, microscopic plants in the ocean and to a much lesser extent volcanoes and fossil fuels, continually restock the atmosphere with sulfur.)
The sun’s magnetic field encloses its planets in a magnetic solar wind (the heliosphere) that shields us from many of the cosmic rays that exploding stars shoot our way. Sunspots, dark spots made by pools of intense magnetism seen through a telescope, indicate heightened magnetic activity, which deflects more cosmic rays away from Earth. During the 20th century the sun’s magnetic shield more than doubled, and the sun had a lot of sunspots. Fewer cosmic rays reached Earth to make clouds, and global temperatures rose. When the sun’s magnetic activity wanes and sunspots disappear, more cosmic rays hit the Earth’s atmosphere to make clouds; and the globe cools. The Solar/Cosmic Ray Theory of climate change explains observations made over the last 400 years since the advent of the telescope that correlate sunspots with global warming and cooling.
The Solar/Cosmic Ray Theory explains climate change on a geologic time scale. Our solar system in its rotation around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy passes through one of its spiral arms every 135 million years. These arms contain high levels of cosmic rays. Astrophysicist Nir Shaviv and geologist Ján Veizer in "Celestrial Driver of Phanerozoic Climate?" (Geological Society of America Today 2003;13:4-10) and Veizer in "Celestial Climate Driver: A Perspective from Four Billion Years of the Carbon Cycle" (Geoscience Canada 2005;32:13-30) show that the variability in the Earth’s temperature over the past 500 million years correlates well with the intensity of cosmic rays hitting the planet when it passes in and out of the spiral arms of the Milky Way. They found that at one point atmospheric CO2 levels were 18 times higher than they are today, and they were 10 times higher when the planet was an "icehouse" during the Ordovician glacial period (450 million years ago).
During one warm period, 50 million years ago, the weather in the arctic was like that in Florida today. The Arctic Ocean was free of ice year-round and was populated by alligators and turtles. Axel Heiberg Island, in the high Canadian arctic 600 miles from the North Pole, has a well-preserved fossil forest (discovered in 1985), in what once was a semi-tropical swamp. At the other extreme, 2.2 billion years ago, and several times more recently, the planet was covered in ice down to the equator, making it a "Snowball Earth." Planetary factors that have played a role in these climate changes include the position of drifting continents and the evolving composition of the atmosphere.
Other cycles that drive climate change include the Earth’s 100,000-year elliptical orbit around the sun and its 41,000-year axial tilt cycle. (In the most elliptical phase of the Earth’s orbit, the sun’s rays must travel 3 percent farther to reach the planet. The Earth’s axial tilt ranges from 22.1 to 24.5 degrees and is currently at 23 degrees.) And then there is the 1,500-year solar cycle.
S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery describe the 1,500-year solar warming and cooling climate cycle in their book Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years (2007). It has 528 references, a glossary, and an index. This well written book is arguably the best book to date on the politics and science of global warming. In addition to presenting evidence for the 1,500-year solar cycle, first proposed by European researchers in 1996, the authors address both the Greenhouse and Solar/Cosmic Ray theories of climate change.
The sun’s role in climate change is due not so much to changes in intensity of its visible and/or invisible rays, or irradiance, but to its magnetic effect on cosmic rays. Changes in the sun’s magnetic activity have a four-fold greater effect on the Earth’s temperature than variations in its irradiance.
Today’s global warming is part of a natural 1,500-year, plus or minus 500-year, solar cycle operating for at least a million years. The Earth’s climate has warmed and cooled nine times in the past 12,000 years, in lock step with the waxing and waning of the sun’s magnetic activity (Science 2001;294[7 December]:2130-2136). Over the last 1,200 years there has been a "Medieval Warming" (900-1300), when Greenland was green; a "Little Ice Age" (1300-1850), when New York harbor froze, and people could walk from Manhattan across the ice to Staten Island a mile away (in 1780); and the current global warming (1850-?). Rather than "global warming," a better term for this phase of the solar cycle is "Modern Warming." Since 1850, temperatures have risen 0.8 degrees C, most rapidly in 1850-1870 and 1920-1940. Temperatures in the 1,500-year solar cycle fluctuate within a 4 degree C range — two degrees above and two degrees below the norm.
It is not surprising that the former vice president did not address the Solar/Cosmic Ray Theory of Climate Change in An Inconvenient Truth. This "documentary," as the Christian Science Monitor notes, is really a docuganda, propaganda disguised as documentary. It manipulates the audience, with alarming images and a skewed presentation of facts, into believing that humans cause global warming and that "polluting" the atmosphere with carbon dioxide will have catastrophic consequences. Unlike a true documentary, which seeks to inform the audience about a given state of affairs in a balanced and unbiased fashion, in An Inconvenient Truth Gore ignores or misrepresents evidence that refutes the human-caused Greenhouse Theory. Addressing competing theories on global warming in an even-handed way is not his intent.
Christopher Horner, in his recently published book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism (2007), gives a lively account of the data Gore omits that contradict his global warming alarmism, especially with regard to hurricane frequency and severity and the increase in weather-related damages. He also addresses the film’s misrepresentations and some outright falsehoods.
The discredited "hockey stick" graph of the Earth’s temperature over the last 1,000 years is one of them. This widely publicized and cited graph reported by Mann and colleagues in 1998/1999 expunges the Medieval Warming and Little Ice Age from the climate record. By getting rid of these two phases of the most recent solar cycle, they make the temperature for the first 900 years relatively flat and unchanged, with the rise in temperature in the 20th century on the graph made to look like the blade of a hockey stick. This graph so constructed matches that of atmospheric CO2 levels during this time period, which remained unchanged for 900 years until they began their rapid rise in the 20th century. Although now acknowledged by climate scientists to be false, Gore nevertheless makes this hockey stick graph the centerpiece of his "documentary." (Horner’s colleague, Marlo Lewis, has put together an excellent critique of this film on PowerPoint slides, available here.)
Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, in a tightly woven and sober manner, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism, with rapier wit, expose the flaws in the human-caused Greenhouse Theory. The Solar/Cosmic Ray Theory presented in The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change is more convincing.
At CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory in Geneva, researchers are building the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the $2.4 billion Large Hadron Collider. In the upcoming CLOUD experiment (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) led by Jasper Kirby, investigators will generate high-energy particle beams in this accelerator simulating cosmic rays that they will use to validate and better understand the connection between cosmic rays and clouds.
Al Gore tells us in An Inconvenient Truth that he has given this lecture more than 1,000 times around the world. To help solve the climate crisis (his term for global warming), as a "recovering politician," he has gone on a crusade against CO2. Gore and his fellow climate alarmists do not want anything to do with CLOUD and wish it would go away. As Calder recounts in The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change, climate scientists wedded to the greenhouse theory were able to block it when Kirby proposed doing this experiment in 2000; but now, in 2007, with CERN’s backing and funding secured, CLOUD will come online in 2010.
A basic rule of investigative journalism and criminal investigation is "Follow the Money," or as Cicero put it, "Cui bono?" (“To whose benefit?,” literally, “[being] good to whom?”).
Al Gore profits handsomely from his climate crisis activities. Validation of the Solar/Cosmic Ray Theory poses a major threat to this source of income. He will not disclose his speaking fees, but he reportedly received $250,000 for a speech that he gave in Saudi Arabia recently, and his average speaking fee for his global warming lectures is said to be $50,000 to $100,000. Gore is also a founding partner and Chairman of Generation Investment Management (GIM), a firm that "manage[s] the assets of institutional investors… as well as those of select high net worth individuals." [Emphasis added.] GIM invests in companies poised to cash in on CO2-caused global warming solutions, such as government subsidized solar and wind alternative-energy ventures and projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe.
The day after he won his Academy Award The Tennessean reported that Gore’s electrical and natural gas bills for his home in Nashville in 2006 were $27,360. This amount of energy, all of it generated from fossil fuels, is more than 20 times than that consumed by the average American household. A spokesperson for Gore pointed out that he buys "carbon offsets" to pay for his large "carbon footprint." Gore invests these offset funds in GIM, the company he chairs; and his apocalyptic climate forecasts (reinforced by those currently being made by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scare citizens and government leaders around the world and persuade them to invest in alternative energy programs, raising the value of GIM’s privately held shares.
Can an individual who stands to make millions from the CO2 global warming paradigm be trusted to present an unbiased review of this subject and view with an open mind alternative theories of climate change?
Global warming is now a $5 billion industry, which benefits the government and its politicians and bureaucrats, environmental activists, the media, executives and shareholders of "green" industries, and climate scientists. Businesses profit by gaming the regulatory and planned "cap and trade" process rather than have to make money by producing things people want. The ("good news is no news") media shamelessly plays along and profits by frightening people. And we see how the movement’s most prominent activist, former Vice President Al Gore benefits. Climate scientists are awarded $1.7 billion a year in government grants to study climate change, but under the condition that these scientists continue to support the "consensus" or lose their funding. Climate scientist Richard Lindzen, in Climate of Fear, writes : "Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis."
The global warming scare enables government to intervene and extend its control over people’s lives. The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, looking for ways to keep Social Security and Medicare afloat and balance the budget, are investigating proposals for a carbon tax, under the pretext of cutting down on Greenhouse emissions.
Gore barely mentions the Kyoto Protocol in his film and says nothing about what sacrifices people will have to make in order to reduce CO2 emissions. He does say, however, that combating CO2-induced global warming will take a commitment similar to what the country had to make to win World War II. At some point in this climate war the government will ration CO2 and issue "carbon credits" — CO2 ration cards. In World War II Americans had to have the appropriate ration card to purchase gasoline, tires, coffee, sugar, meat, and shoes; a certificate to purchase a stove; and an authorization for vacation travel. At the height of the War on CO2 global governance, which only a socialist state can provide, will be required to rein in CO2 emissions, with international inspectors at one’s doorstep prosecuting and confiscating property of people and industries that make "greedy [CO2-producing] choices," like using an air-conditioner and driving a SUV.
Government leaders, environmental activists, and "select high net worth individuals" (including, of course, Hollywood celebrities) will not be inconvenienced by the strictures on CO2 emissions government imposes. In medieval times the nobility invoked sumptuary laws to limit what it considered to be conspicuous consumption of the bourgeoisie. Carbon offsets in the CO2 war will create a de-facto sumptuary law rendering the elite exempt from the hardships that carbon rationing will cause.
Human emissions of CO2, which account for 3 percent of the CO2 in atmosphere, may not have caused the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 levels. It is a reasonable hypothesis, but it has not been tested. Habibullo Abdussamatov postulates a different cause for the rise in CO2 levels: "Increased solar irradiance warms Earth’s oceans, which then triggers the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So the common view that man’s industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations." Whichever way it has happened plants thrive with rising CO2 levels. Studies show that plants and trees raise their productivity by 30-80 percent when the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is doubled from 300 to 600 ppmv. Orange trees produce twice as many oranges. Satellite observations from 1982 to 1999 show that global vegetation increased more than 6 percent.
The Environmental establishment is able to ignore these benefits, but the Solar/Cosmic Ray Theory of climate change is another matter, particularly when validated by the CLOUD experiment. It is a paradigm shift that will topple the charade of human-caused warming. Vested interests will fight it. Too much money, power, and control are at stake.
Claims of warming due to human production of CO2 are supported only by its association with a recent rise in temperatures and on global climate models, which fail to account for past climate changes and whose future predictions have yet to be verified. Experimental evidence and empirical observations of past global warming and cooling events underpin the Solar/Cosmic Ray Theory of climate change.
One hopes that science will prevail. It is the only way people can prevent the climate alarmists, backed by the media and the state, from carrying out their plan to "save the planet." If not stopped, they will eventually establish global governance; dismantle modern technology; cripple industry; impose carbon rationing with radical reductions in the average American’s standard of living and quality of life; and inflict untold misery, suffering, and death for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Donald Miller (send him mail) is a cardiac surgeon and Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a member of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness and writes articles on a variety of subjects for LewRockwell.com. His web site is www.donaldmiller.com