Off-World Events Effect Earth More Than Scientists Realized → Washingtons Blog
Off-World Events Effect Earth More Than Scientists Realized - Washingtons Blog

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Off-World Events Effect Earth More Than Scientists Realized

Preface:Please read the endnotes before forming a conclusion on my views on global warming.

National Geographic reported in 2006 that the Earth's magnetic field is changing rapidly. However, according to the article, decreases in the strength of the magnetic field do not directly affect surface temperatures:

The decline in the magnetic field also is opening Earth's upper atmosphere to intense charged particle radiation, scientists say....

"It is in this region that the shielding effect of the magnetic field is severely reduced, thus allowing high energy particles of the hard radiation belt to penetrate deep into the upper atmosphere to altitudes below a hundred kilometers (62 miles)," Mandea said.

This radiation does not influence temperatures on Earth. The particles, however, do affect technical and radio equipment and can damage electronic equipment on satellites and airplanes, Olsen of the Danish space center said.

This confirms what NASA scientists have said. However, other scientists have concluded that the Earth's magnetic shield does affects climate.

In addition, two Danish geophysicists at Aarhus University in western Denmark propose that the increased cosmic radiation allowed by a weakened magnetic shield in turn changes the amount of rainfall at the tropics, thus affecting climate (they acknowledge that CO2 also affects climate, but state that climate is more complex than generally believed).

Nigel Marsh of the Danish Space Research Institute in Copenhagen also argues that clouds are scarce near the equator and thicker towards the tropics, because cosmic rays have a hard time punching through Earth's magnetic field at the equator, but can leak in through the relatively weaker field nearer the poles. If correct, this bolsters the Danish geophysicists' hypothesis that changes to the Earth's magnetic shield affect cloud cover (and thus precipitation and climate in general).

Moreover, it is known that intense solar activity can destroy ozone in the Earth's atmosphere, thus affecting climactic temperatures. See this, this, this, this and this. Indeed, the effects of solar energy on ozone may be one of the main ways in which the sun influences Earth's climate.

The sun itself also affects the Earth more than previously understood. For example, according to the European Space Agency:

Scientists ... have proven that sounds generated deep inside the Sun cause the Earth to shake and vibrate in sympathy. They have found that Earth’s magnetic field, atmosphere and terrestrial systems, all take part in this cosmic sing-along.

Indeed, the very position of the Earth and sun effect climate. Scientists know that Earth's weather is hugely affected by factors such as, according to a well-known treatise:

(1) the shape of the ellipitical orbit (with a time scale of about 95,000 years); (2) the tilt in the earth's axis of rotation (approximately 42,000 years); and (3) the time of year when the earth is closest to the sun, or perihilion (about 21,000 years)
The Earth periodically enters ice ages and warming periods, and scientists have attempted to work out the cycles according to the Earth's orbit, tilt, etc. When I studied climate at a university in the early 1980's, I was taught that the Earth is in an "ice age" most of the time, and that the warmer interglacial periods were more rare.

Scientists have recently discovered that cosmic rays from a "mysterious source" are bombarding the Earth (and see this). This is occurring at the same time that the protective bubble around the sun that helps to shield the Earth from harmful interstellar radiation is shrinking and getting weaker.

In addition, a recent study shows that increased output from the Sun might be to blame for 10 to 30 percent of the global warming that has been measured in the past 20 years. The sun is simply getting hotter. Indeed, solar output has been increasing steadily ever since scientists have been able to measure it. Another study shows that solar activity variations have a "marked influence" on the Earth's climate.

If extra-planetary events affect Earth's climate, wouldn't other planets in the solar system be affected as well?

Yes. In fact, there is evidence of global warming on Pluto, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune's moon. See also this.

The sun also apparently affects the amount of rainfall on Earth, which in turn affects climate.
Notes: I am not arguing for "doing nothing". I am all for reducing our reliance on oil and for developing clean energy alternatives. Oil does a lot of harmful things in addition to producing CO2. And I am strongly for alternative energy, as I believe that it decreases centralization and therefore increases democratic trends. Oil also produces a lot of plain old pollution, in the extraction, processing and burning phases.

But we shouldn't do something which will cause more harm than good, or which doesn't do much but make money for the same financial giants who created the economic crisis.

Like the Danish geophysicists discussed above, I believe that does increase warming trends. However, like them, I think that climate modeling is complex and that the effects from other causes have not been sufficiently taken into account. Indeed, if extra-planetary and other conditions align towards warming, then I think we could experience severe warming in the future. Under some scenarios, even modest warming at the Arctic could release methane, which could lead to dramatic results.

On the other hand, if the most important factors align towards cooling trends, then even with greenhouse gasses, we could experience cooling.

And - unless we understand the science of natural extra-planetary events - we could be sitting ducks if something really big happens "out there". I believe that the science of extra-planetary events on Earth is in its infancy. I passionately urge governments and universities to expand their research in this area.


  1. In the periodic doom scenarios tossed about in mags such as Popular Science and the like, one I recall being mentioned was that the solar system is about to re-enter the main portion of the galactic arm it is associated with.

    What this means is that our solar system itself orbits the center of the galaxy at a slight inclination (like most other galactic objects) so that we oscillate slightly above and slightly below the galactic plane, with corresponding short periods during which we pass through the galactic plane on the way to the opposite position. The plane of the galaxy is denser than above and below the plane (denser with gas, dust, etc).

    I don't recall the theoretical doom that might accompany this transition (all hypothetical scenarios listed: asteroid strikes, comet strikes, nearby supernova, etc, could all wipe us out). I don't recall the specific hypothetical threat the transition might entail but that is beside the point I am putting forth.

    Basically, I wonder if we might be entering the denser plane of the galactic arm we are associated with and if this higher density may correspondingly impact/shrink the heliopause.

    On another point all together...just what we need, even more unproven and speculative alternative reasons for global warming for deniers to glom onto to try to get us to do absolutely NOTHING to mitigate the warming. My own position would be: even if you found that the bulk of warming was coming from something other than CO2 emissions, SO WHAT?! The end result is just as damaging, just as harmful so the reasonable action to take would be to do whatever was necessary to mitigate the warming regardless of main driver for the sake of survival!

    The deniers and Republicans simply want to throw up their hands and say - let whatever happens happen no matter the consequences because actually mitigating the harm might hurt the greedy little short-term bottom line. SO WHAT?! Your short-term bottom line is of no consequence compared to the collapse of sea ecosystems and other ecosystems that we humans REQUIRE to live ourselves.

    I blame this on Christianity. No matter what good things you can find to argue for it, it is nonetheless true that the most damaging effect overall of that religion has been the belief that humans are separate and above nature and can thus destroy the natural world or wipe away species with impunity because some old man in the sky wont ever let anything we do (or don't do) hurt us.


  2. Oh yeah...10 to 30% forcing from the sun (global warming) leaves a nice 70 to 90% for human activity.

    So, if the temperature increase by 2050 would be expected, without change, to be 2.5 degrees warmer on average than today, that means that if humans completely stopped CO2 emissions (and other extraneous emissions), then ignoring the amount of increase that is inevitable due to the amount already emitted, that would mean that global temps would only rise by about 1/2 a degree by 2050.

    Even if you were granted another 10 to 30% diff due to cosmic rays, say, you STILL reduce the warming by half if humans act. Doing nothing is not an option.

  3. I did...sorry, didn't mean to imply YOU arguing against doing anything. I was putting that out there to pre-empt any possible deniers or "do nothings" commented :/

  4. I would like to see an open debate between the two camps. I believe everyone wants a cleaner greener planet, yet with Al Gore on one side backed by the main stream media rational discussion seems impossible. Bjorn Lomborg offers an alternative view yet he hardly gets a look in.
    Fear mongering and bad science seem to be ruling the day, its time to revaluate all the data in an open and transparent way before trillions are spent and policies put into place. Let the experts on both sides hold an open debate.

  5. I'm not a climate scientist myself, but a good number of the people I work with do work that will happily be claimed by the climate change / environmentalist research camps, though technically their work is peripheral also.

    I've noticed, in watching how the research, presentations and discussions proceed. Most of the work takes the man-made global warming view for granted, and looks for correlations among stuff to construct further scary stories. But they are not testing whether warmer climate (for example) actually caused the (poorly sampled) patterns they find. This isn't even cause-effect type science.

    A second big thing I notice is that while these same people rail against creationists for inserting their religious and political agendas into science, they are blind to the ideological basis of the green movement, and do not hesitate to make political exhortations, moral remonstrations, etc. (I'm an evolutionary biologist myself.)

    I blame this on the poor education in America generally, even among PhDs - because their grasp of American history, their ethical foundations, their basic philosophy on what humans can do and should do, are driving their politics, independent of the science. These folks are experts in their particular field, but in terms of applications and tying it into the political debate ... it would be like me using my knowledge of evolution to say something meaningful about 15th century paintings of animals depicted with St. Francis of Assisi. My qualifications don't qualify me to be an expert of any kind on that matter. Same for scientists and political conclusions.

    Qua thinking human, obviously most scientists have political views. I just think they should be explicit when they are speaking as an expert on their science, and when they are giving their political opinion, so as not to suggest that being an expert on Pleistocene rodents makes one an authority on the rationality and moral imperative of CO2 cap-and-trade schemes. That's their big blunder - not delineating their views - and most have no idea there's any problem at all.

    In fact, because of federal backing of global warming science, there's loads of motivation to find some way to tie in your research to global climate change (obviously on the alarmist side) - especially for young scientists like me, where getting a job and keeping a job at a good university crucially hinge on pulling in *big* *federal* grants. A friend of mine just got a job at a good state university; in his contract, it states that to be *considered* for tenure he has to bring in a big (>$100K) *federal* grant.

    No matter how much leftists cry foul at "big oil" and other industries funding research, all these big industries can't match the up-for-grabs research budgets of the NSF, NIH, NCI, DOD, DOE, NOAA, NASA, OIST, CDC ... shall I go on?

    I guess you can say I'm highly skeptical about whether it's cognitively possible for "the experts" to "hold an open debate", given that the main issues are non-scientific - politics, ethics, careers, whole branches of science, how to fund science, etc.

  6. anon1, seriously how could you blame what has happened to the earht so far, has been done solely by one religion, christianity. so then you must be saying that, everything that has gone on in the world(refering to global warming) has happened because of a few million people alone. its everyones fault that the way the earth is how it is today. we all drive cars, or use electricity, so we all take part in depleating the earth. what im saying is that's dumb to blame it on a few people, out of all the people that live in the world.

  7. @George i appreciate the effort to put it together so that we have an easy reading ;]

    @anon1 and other brainwashed pals

    debates and open discussions is the way to go. im also for cleaner air and a cleaner nature, but the main stream media propaganda is making me sick.
    al gore has no intention to make the earth cleaner, that’s a fact. regarding the cap&trade, which he pushed like he's life depended on in, here's what greenpeace had to say on june 25th :
    "As it comes to the floor, the Waxman-Markey bill sets emission reduction targets far lower than science demands, then undermines even those targets with massive offsets. The giveaways and preferences in the bill will actually spur a new generation of nuclear and coal-fired power plants to the detriment of real energy solutions."
    I looked it up for you, it’s Section 331 - Revises the definition of "statutory source" by lowering the threshold for such a source from 25,000 metric tons to 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
    Are we clear w/ the way al gore wants to do us good? ;]


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