Warehouse E

Ice Age Ahead?

Page 2
Page 3

Professor's Warning Of "Global Cooling" May Have Merit

By James Donahue

Of all the papers issued by scientists and weather specialists these days refuting the concept of global warming as a threat to mankind, a piece by Canadian geoscientist R. Timothy Patterson, a professor at Carleton University, offers an interesting, but incomplete argument.

Writing for the Financial Post, Patterson claims that research on tree rings, muddy ocean floors, glaciers and even ancient lake and river water lines indicate that the Earth has gone through numerous cycles of heating and cooling. He believes there have been times in the past when this planet has been hotter than it is today.

Rather than blame the build-up of carbon dioxide and other emissions from the burning of carbon fuels for the current warming period, Patterson argues that the sun is the real culprit, and has been all along.

From his own research in sediment, in which he searched diatom and fish-scale records, he notes that there were "longer period cycles all correlating closely with other well-known regular solar variations. In particular, we see marine productivity cycles that match well with the sun's 75-100-year Gleissberg Cycle, the 200-500-year Suess Cycle and the 1,100-1,500-year Bond Cycle."

Patterson wrote that the variation in the sun's brightness over these longer cycles appear to have had a major impact on marine productivity. He said his tests, as well as "hundreds of other studies" show exactly the same thing: "The sun appears to drive climate change."

Patterson admits, however, that the explanation for climate change is not as simple as merely examining the brightness of the sun, or the energy produced by sun storms. "Despite this clear and repeated correlation, the measured variations in incoming solar energy were, on their own, not sufficient to cause the climate changes we have observed in our proxies. . . Even though the sun is brighter now than at any time in the past 8,000 years, the increase in direct solar imput is not calculated to be sufficient to cause the past century's modest warming on its own. There had to be an amplifier of some sort for the sun to be a primary driver of climate change."

In the course of their studies, scientists have discovered that as the output of the sun varies, so does its protective solar wind. Its reduction allows varying amounts of galactic cosmic rays from deep space to penetrate the Earth's atmosphere. This, in turn, causes more cloud formation, which causes a cooling effect. Stronger solar winds reduce the protective cloud cover causing the Earth to warm.

Patterson warns that extreme changes in solar activity have been a primary cause of the Earth Ice Ages, and that it may happen again.

He devotes almost no credence to the argument that carbon dioxide contaminates in our atmosphere are causing the planet to warm. Instead, Patterson writes that "CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet's climate on long, medium and even short time scales."

He writes that a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental researchers indicated that two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries did not believe the "current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases."

Patterson argues that the study of the planet's climate and how it is effected by solar and human activity is still in its infancy, and that it is just too early to determine if human activity is the real cause of the current warming trend.

In fact, he warns that if the sun follows its normal cycle, by 2020 it will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, and very likely bringing unusually cool conditions on Earth. He warns that instead of preparing to deal with global warming, we really should be thinking seriously about how to handle global cooling.

Patterson's abrupt dismissal of carbon dioxide emissions in our atmosphere, and the chemical pollutants that have almost erased our protective ozone layer, as causes of the extreme climate changes occurring on Earth, is the flaw in his paper.

Surely if an increase in cloud formations brought about by a reduction of solar winds can have an effect on our climate, then thick clouds of smoke, ash and carbon dioxide must be affecting our climate as well.

Except for periods of heavy volcanism, the build-up of these contaminants in our air, and at this level, has been an entirely new factor. Humans have been burning coal and oil to heat buildings and run machinery for only about 200 years.  

This stuff hangs high in the atmosphere trapping the solar heat and gradually warming the Earth. To make matters worse, the sun is, indeed, burning hotter now than it has in the past, consequently causing a warming effect also noticed on other planets in our solar system.

If Patterson is correct, and the sun is about to begin a cool-down period within the next 13 years, it may be a saving grace in that it will give mankind more time to prepare a way of escaping the total burn-out of our little home in space.

The irony of it all is that the melting of the Arctic ice caps and the glaciers of Greenland is filling the North Atlantic with fresh water. This, in turn, is causing the Gulf Stream, a fast flowing river of warm water from the Gulf of Mexico that winds its way north to the shores of Europe and the United Kingdom, to slow. This year the Gulf Stream almost came to a complete stop. Many scientists say that if this happens, Northern Europe and even parts of Canada may be in for a dramatic cool-down if not another Ice Age.

But such a cool-down will not be caused by a solar cooling. It will be an indirect effect of global warming.

We agree with Patterson when he concludes that we all have a lot more to learn about the effects of the sun on our weather before we can make accurate predictions about anything.