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This old argument is getting another airing among the internet climate change contrarian/denier ghetto. Briefly it claims that humans have nothing to do with current climate change – it’s all caused by the sun! Specifically the influence of cosmic rays originating from the sun on formation of clouds in the atmosphere.

Of course things are never that simple – but that doesn’t stop those wishing to justify a preconceived position. And the sudden new evidence which is being touted arises from a recent paper from CERN  Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation published in Nature. The denier ghetto has come out with headlines like New CERN “CLOUD” Study Makes the Al Gore Climate Change Forecasts Obsolete! Or locally the NZ climate change denier blog Climate Conversation asserts CLOUD proves cosmic ray link!

The reasearch findings in no way justifies these headlines. And even veteran denier Richard Treadgold at Climate Conversations has backed away to some extent from his headline. Nevertheless it ahs him demanding that New Zealand review its Emmisions Trading Scheme and he thinks that “warmists” are responding by “rushing to the exits”!

Yeah, right!

What are the research findings?

Potholer54 has produced a nice video summary of the facts around this research Are cosmic rays causing global warming? It’s well worth watching

Another brief video, starring Jasper Kirkby the lead scientists in this work,  also provides more information on this work  Kirkby on Cosmic Rays

As Kirkby points out the work is only the first step in this research and says nothing about the influence of cosmic rays on cloud formation. This initial work really only reports the influence of chemicals and cosmic rays  on nucleation of chemical particles which may eventually lead to some cloud formation.

As for headlines like CERN: ‘Climate models will need to be substantially revised’ Kirkby points out we are a long way from that – at least ten years before the influence on models can even be considered.

It’s certainly interesting research, but only one step in considering climatic effects. We still have a long way to go to understand how clouds and other aerosols influence climate change.

And it is the nature of research that we should be ready for all sorts of tangential leads produced. For example, perhaps this research may in the end say more about the influence of human activities on climate through the emission of all sorts of chemicals not yet considered and their role in cosmic ray induced particulate formation in the atmosphere.

Thanks to Richard Christie and Cedric Katesby for videos.

See also: For a more detailed discussion of Kirkby’s research watch this  video of one of his lectures (65 min): Jasper Kirkby: The CLOUD experiment at CERN.

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