Friday, December 14, 2012

Cosmic rays redux

Almost a decade ago, I was nudged away from skepticism about anthropogenic global warming after writing an article for TCSDaily (aka Tech Central Station) titled "Cosmic Ray Days." I was reporting on some research that suggested cosmic rays could be an important factor in climate change, but I also noted the uncertainties involved and that one of the scientists doing the research still thought human activity might account for a third to a half of the warming at that point. My skepticism took a hit when TCS soon thereafter published a piece, based on the same research, that claimed that "a great mystery has been solved" and nonchalantly tossed away all the evidence for human activities being central.

Anyway, some people are still playing up the cosmic ray angle, regardless of its weakness.


Ray Haupt said...

Whether cosmic rays effect climate change I cannot say, but chemistry of the upper atmosphere is very complex and not quite the same as at ground level. CFC's, for example, are largely inert at ground level but in the upper atmosphere when exposed to cosmic radiation are implicated in destruction of atmospheric ozone. Early testing of CFC's in chemistry labs did not include bombardment by cosmic rays.

Destruction of the ozone level may well be a part of the global climate change we are now experiencing, and cosmic radiation is indeed involved although not contributed by men. The CFC's however were contributed by men and presumably the effect of ozone depletion is an unexpected and unfortunate consequence.

Kenneth Silber said...

Hi Ray. Thanks for the comment (and demo the comments function is working). I gather there's discussion about links between cosmic rays and ozone depletion and climate change, stemming in part from the work of physicist Qing-Bin Lu at the University of Waterloo. If any of it turns out to show human activity not causing the harms mainstream science now thinks it is, I'll be very pleased...but we'd still have too worry about the effects of those cosmic rays.