In the practice of science, the first obligation of the scientist is to prove himself wrong. In this, the warmers have failed. Such humility is absent from this largely political global warming crowd. For example, Marlo Lewis at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has issued a detailed, eminently defensible 10-page analysis of Al Gores propaganda movie piece (http://www.cei.org/pdf/5539.pdf). There is no attempt by Gore to prove himself wrong, no doubts, no qualifiers, but instead, it is a flagrant advocacy piece. We might also add that Gore provided only a paucity of actual climate data. The CEI analysis is worth a good review.
A second important document was the speech by Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma (http://epw.senate.gov/repwhitepapers/HOT%20AND%COLD%2OMEDIA%20SP
IN%20CYCLE.pdf). True to form, Inhofe was personally attacked, discredited and dismissed while few challenged what he actually said. The Inhofe speech is an excellent summary of a complex subject.
Now we have a new and extremely important paper that describes a heretofore unknown and unquantified climate driver (http://spacecenter.dk/cgi-bin/nyheder-m-=m.cgi?id+1159917791/cgifunction=form). There are many such drivers (also called forcing functions) that force the Earths climate to do what it does. In contrast, computer modelers necessarily are limited to known factors in the models to predict future climates for the Earth. They cant model what they and we dont know.
Much of the global warming controversy has been that skeptics say we simply dont know enough about the climate and those forcing functions to develop accurate models and predictions. The global warmers say we do and proceed to advocate crippling, costly, ineffective public policy to stop the warming. David Wojick writes an excellent 500-word summary of this complex issue (http://maize-energy.blogspot.com/2006/10/wojick-makes-skeptics-case-on-warming.html).
The warming advocates have not had full knowledge of these climate drivers, nor has anyone else, and therefore, cant produce defensible models of our climate at this time. As such, any allegation that manmade CO2 is a major climate driver is pure speculation, less probable now, since there are other powerful natural forces at work. The advocates do not know what the future climate will be because they cant know what is unknown. No one can at this poor level of climate understanding.
The effects of clouds on the climate and how they are formed, are huge, complex and largely unknown. Some types of clouds reflect solar energy back into space, creating cooling. Other clouds at lower levels trap energy, which is reflected back to the Earth, creating a heating phenomenon. Worse, the physical/chemical mechanisms for cloud formation have not been satisfactorily understood. Thus, these large uncertainties have not made cloud-forming mechanisms suitable for modeling.
Henrik Svensmark and colleagues have studied the relationship between cosmic radiation and cloud formation for a decade at the Danish National Space Center. They have replicated the cloud-forming sequences in the laboratory between water vapor, cosmic radiation and cloud formation.
There has been a remarkable and well-known relationship between cloud formations, cosmic rays and solar magnetism. The correlations were compelling, but the actual physical mechanisms were not known. What Svensmark has found is another naturally occurring driving force with considerable impact on our climate. It has nothing to do with mans activities.
This new effect underscores the fact that many natural forces are involved with driving our climate without any involvement with mans activities. It is prudent to assume that we still dont know all of these natural climate drivers, nor their magnitudes, nor their signs (plus or minus).
We can already make some preliminary observations and conclusions as a result of these new findings:
1. Cosmic radiation fluxes from deep space are extremely energetic (some particle energies far exceeding anything man can produce in big accelerators).
2. As cosmic radiation enters the upper atmosphere, it collides with atmospheric molecules and atoms. These collisions give rise to veritable cascades of atomic and molecular debris in the atmosphere, including free electrons.
3. These free electrons act as initiators in the cloud particle formation process.
4. These electrons also behave as catalysts, which is to say, they can cause the formation of many small clusters of water molecule precursers, before they themselves are consumed, captured or end their cloud-initiating process.
5. This cloud formation process appears to depend upon the altitude of the water vapor. It doesnt take place at all altitudes.
6. The suns magnetic field fluctuates itself over time, and when the field is stronger, as it is now, tends to protect the Earth and reduce the impact of cosmic radiation. This introduces a modulation of the cosmic ray fluxes and, in turn, modulates the percent of cloud cover, and with subsequent variations in global temperatures.
7. This new climate driving process is now beyond speculation and has been demonstrated in the laboratory as described in this paper from the Danish National Space Center (http://spacecenter.dk/cgi-bin/nyheder-m-m.cgi?id=1159917791/cgifuction=form).
8. Keep in mind that this experiment needs to be replicated and discussed among honest scientists as should always be the case, in contrast with attempts to silence honest critics, such as through Nuremberg-like trials (http://epw.senate.gov/fact.cfm?party=rep&id=264568).
9. Keep in mind that until the date of publication of this paper (10/6/06), the climate modelers did not have knowledge of this very significant climate driver in their climate modeling efforts.
10. This is to say, the climate modelers did not know all there is to know about the many unknown factors that drive the climate, let alone the magnitudes and signs (plus or minus) of these forces.
11. Keep in mind there very likely are other unknown forces driving the climate as well.
12. All climate modeling results (including sea level estimates) published before 10/6/06 are incomplete, and not suitable for policy purposes.
It is scientific foolishness to claim complete climate knowledge, to claim to reduce the climate to mere mortal calculations, to believe the results, and to promote them as truth. It is foolish from a policy point of view to propose trillion-dollar protocols (truly economy killers) in energy rationing and curtailments, as a rational way to solve climate problems that are so poorly understood. This is especially true since China and India, who are not required to comply with the Kyoto Protocols, now consume more coal than the U.S. and Europe combined, and plan to triple this by 2030.
A return to serious science is needed, not censorship, not insults, not advocacy, not Nuremberg trials of skeptics.
Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Science, Climate and Environment. He has a bachelors degree in mathematics and chemistry from St. Martins College, Wash.; earned a doctorate degree in physical chemistry from the University of Washington; and has 37 years of experience in the nuclear field. He has been affiliated with the American Nuclear Society, Health Physics Society, American Association of Engineering Societies, Radiochemistry Society, and the Pacific Nuclear Council. He has been appointed to several advisory counci
ls, served as a technical consultant, and appeared in numerous media venues, radio, television and print.
From the Nov.8-14, 2006, issue