Erik Larson

Sep 14, 2011

Cosmic Rays and Climate Change: Shhh!

I have no idea whether there’s any scientific validity to the research conducted at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, aka CERN, on whether cosmic rays affect climate on Earth. What is interesting is the implication in Anne Jolis’s September 7 article The Other Climate Theory, that researchers have long speculated that not just C02, but cosmic rays, may indeed change our climate. Where’s this debate in the media? Roger W. Cohen, in a WSJ response to Jolis’s article, claims that the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) camp—the scientists who think that the primary cause of the warming Earth is human activity—is actually much smaller than how the media frames the debate, and in fact there is another school of thought among scientists that non-anthropogenic factors may be driving changes. In this “contrarian” school of thought, scientists tend to group into those interested in investigating the influence of cosmic rays, and those interested in the hypothesis that the Earth naturally and quickly changes temperature based on its own “unforced chaotic variations”. Whatever the merits of these discussions, why haven’t we heard them? That’s a question even a non-atmospheric scientist can pose.