In January, India’s Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, said: “There is a groupthink in climate science today. Anyone who raises alternative climate theories is immediately branded a climate atheist in an atmosphere of climate evangelists.
“Climate science is incredibly more complex than negotiators make it out to be . . . Climate science should not be driven by the West. We should not always be dependent on outside reports.”
Indian newspaper The Hindu commented: “A key belief of climate science theology – that a reduction in carbon emissions will take care of the bulk of global warming – has been questioned in a scientific paper released by the Environment Ministry.”
Ramesh made his comments in response to a scientific study released by respected Indian physicist Dr UR Rao, a former chairperson of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
I was most pleased to see this Indian response, particularly from a Cabinet Minister. Ramesh is exhibiting the courage to listen to his scientists and then take a stand on a most important issue. The issue is also thorny, and many politicians avoid it like the plague.
The fundamental issue is: Is climate change occurring as a result of man-made factors, or is any potential or observable change due to natural factors?
I agree entirely with Rao that climate change is probably caused by natural factors.
The report brought out by Rao says that human-induced global warming is much less than is claimed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and that, in fact, most of the observed temperature fluctuations could be attributed to cosmic rays, in particular Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs).
When nuclear reactions occur in stars, nuclear particles of various sorts are spewed as a consequence of the nuclear reactions. These particles race across the vast distances of outer space.
In our own sun, such reactions occur, producing a spread of nuclear particles, some of which strike our planet. In fact, they give rise to the coloured sheets of light seen in the night skies over the far north and south of our planet, known as the Northern and Southern Lights.
All stars are actually ‘suns’ and, so, the galaxy is full of these GCRs, which arrive at our planet all the time.
Our planet has protection, and this is a magnetic field which results from the interaction of the earth’s magnetic field and the magnetic field of the sun. The sun’s field changes from time to time by some mechanism which is not yet fully understood. But one good indicator of the state of the sun’s magnetic field is the number of sunspots that can be seen on the surface of the sun. The sunspots show up as dark blobs, which are actually huge magnetic storms.
The bottom line of all this is that, when there are few or no sunspots, the protective field around the earth is weak and above-average numbers of cosmic rays reach the atmosphere of the earth. When there are many sunspots, a strong field results and there are less than average GCRs reaching our atmosphere.
What we see, and what Rao pointed out, is that more GCRs mean more cloud cover over the earth and then global cooling results. With many sunspots evident, global warming results. The principle is simple: with more clouds, less heat reaches the earth because it is stopped by the clouds.
In 2009, Ramesh stated that evidence given to him showed that a claim that the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035 was wrong. Only a few months later, the IPCC, after a review, stated that it had been wrong about the glacier prediction and that it regretted the error.
When Ramesh released Rao’s findings on GCRs, he noted: “The impact of cosmic ray intensity on climate change has thus far been largely ignored by the mainstream scientific consensus.” He added that a “unidimensional focus” on carbon emissions by most Western countries put additional pressure on countries like India in international climate negotiations and that “international climate negotiations are about climate politics [but], increasingly, science is becoming the handmaiden of politics”.
While the impact of cosmic rays on climate change has been studied before, Rao’s paper quantifies their contribution to global warming and concludes: “The future prediction of global warming presented by the IPCC’s fourth report requires a relook to include the effect due to long-term changes in the galactic cosmic ray intensity.”
What is laudable about the stance taken by Ramesh is that he challenges the entire dogma that mankind is solely to blame for any observed global temperature change.
In governments and companies around the world, one finds whole departments working on the ‘mitigation of climate change’ or trying to reduce the rate of global warming.
If the GCR theory is correct, which it seems to be, then there is nothing that mankind can do about global temperatures.
Having departments to mitigate climate change would then be like having a department to reduce the influence of ghosts and evil spirits on weather patterns.
To Ramesh, I say: “Keep it up; you are on the right track.”
When the next world environment conference, the seventeeth Conference of the Parties, or COP 17, takes place in Durban later this year, GCRs should be well and truly on the agenda.