Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Stealing the sunshine (hypothesis) from climate change deniers

[x-posted on The 2 Dollar Bill]

The bulk of scientists have been suggesting for at least a few months that solar output has not been the responsible factor in climate change... much to the dismay of climate change deniers and skeptics.

Today, a more notable report came to light (no pun intended) from the University of Lancaster (UK) which says scientists found there has been

no significant link between [changes in cosmic rays coming to Earth determine cloudiness and temperature] in the last 20 years.

Over the course of one of the Sun's natural 11-year cycles, there was a weak correlation between cosmic ray intensity and cloud cover - but cosmic ray variability could at the very most explain only a quarter of the changes in cloudiness.

And for the following cycle, no correlation was found.

"This work is important as it provides an upper limit on the cosmic ray-cloud effect in global satellite cloud data," commented Dr Giles Harrison from Reading University, a leading researcher in the physics of clouds.

His own research, looking at the UK only, has also suggested that cosmic rays make only a very weak contribution to cloud formation.

The Svensmark hypothesis has also been attacked in recent months by Mike Lockwood from the UK's Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory. He showed that over the last 20 years, solar activity has been rising, which should have led to a drop in global temperatures if the theory was correct.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its vast assessment of climate science last year, concluded that since temperatures began rising rapidly in the 1970s, the contribution of humankind's greenhouse gas emissions has outweighed that of the Sun by a factor of about 13 to one.

Meanwhile, it's not just Iraq that's got folks up in arms. They're tired of the immovable position of the Bush Administration on Climate Change.

The question is: Is Carbon Dioxide (CO2) dangerous to humankind?

Obviously, we exhale it. But on the platform of climate change, is CO2 dangerous? Some state's attorneys general believe so. They AG's from 18 states, two cities and 11 environmental groups stated
in a court filing Wednesday that the EPA has not issued a decision on regulation. Their court filing seeks to compel the EPA to act within 60 days.

“The EPA’s failure to act in the face of these incontestable dangers is a shameful dereliction of duty,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

The Sierra Club, which is also part of the lawsuit, accused the Bush administration of favoring industry. "While this administration has done everything possible to make a mockery of the rule of law in this country, it’s still stunning that they refuse to yield even to the high court," said Sierra Club legal counsel David Bookbinder.

EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said the Supreme Court required the agency to evaluate how it would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and other vehicles, but set no deadline.

The plaintiffs argue that there's enough data and information to make an informed decision now.

The Supreme Court ruling requires the agency to regulate carbon dioxide if it determines it is a danger to public health and welfare....

...Senior EPA employees have told congressional investigators in the House about a tentative finding from early December that CO2 posed a danger because of its climate impact. They said a draft regulation was distributed to the Transportation Department and the White House.

The EPA officials, in interviews with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said those findings were put on hold abruptly.

Surprise, surprise.

So if Congress won't act, perhaps the States will. It's beginning to sound like a full court press in the finals days of the Administration. Perhaps by next January the United States will have some respectable (or nearly respectable) environmental and climate change policy that will help us move toward more sustainable levels of emissions.

This will be very interesting to watch.

For a great writeup on the history of the climate change "debate" which appeared in Newsweek a few months ago, read this. It should be required reading for anyone running for office, to say the least.