The Sun’s influence on our climate
Due to my background studying the developmental psychology theory of Dr Clare W Graves, I have long been skeptical of claims that humans are primarily responsible for Earth’s changing climate. Firstly our planet’s climate has always been changing and (as I’ve written before) the evidence of seashells in our deserts and ancient cities under our oceans can’t be denied. These changes occurred well before the industrial revolution. Secondly the growing prominence of the Stage 6 worldview (according to Dr Graves’ theory) indicates that people are becoming more concerned about our planet and its climate and are more likely to blame climate extremes on the perceived ‘guilt’ of people at previous stages of development (especially at Stage 5, which gave rise to corporations and the industrial revolution). The net result is that climate research questions and findings are likely to be skewed towards perceived anthropogenic impacts.
In contrast to the ‘anthropogenic global warming’ argument, there is an emerging body of knowledge on the Sun’s influence on our climate. This seems (to me) like a rather obvious avenue of investigation since our Sun is the source of all our heat, but nonetheless it hasn’t been on the radar of most climate scientists. Part of the problem is that science now has so many specialist niches, someone who becomes a ‘climate expert’ may have little or no knowledge of solar dynamics. A multidisciplinary approach is required and thankfully it is starting to emerge.
NASA recently published an article on their science website titled ‘Solar Variability and Terrestrial Climate’ which details the results of a meeting of the US National Research Council (NRC). A quote from the NASA article:
‘Understanding the sun-climate connection requires a breadth of expertise in fields such as plasma physics, solar activity, atmospheric chemistry and fluid dynamics, energetic particle physics, and even terrestrial history. No single researcher has the full range of knowledge required to solve the problem. To make progress, the NRC had to assemble dozens of experts from many fields at a single workshop. The report summarizes their combined efforts to frame the problem in a truly multi-disciplinary context.’
While we’re still a long way from making reliable predictions based on solar activity, there are some indications from the Sun that our planet may be entering a cooling phase. Changes in the Sun’s magnetic field suggest a long-term pattern consistent with the Sun’s activity leading into the ‘little ice-age’ that occurred around 1650-1770 CE. This inkling from the NRC gathering is also consistent with a research paper published in March 2012 by Nicola Scarfetta. You can read the NASA article here and Nicola Scarfetta’s paper is here. For information on Graves’ Stage 6 worldview and current global changes, I suggest reading this article: Human evolution: Who are we becoming?
As an endnote, despite my skepticism of the impact of anthropogenic warming, I do believe that reducing our pollution of Earth’s atmosphere can only be a good thing. So I’m certainly a supporter of transitioning to clean energy. I do suspect that there are much larger forces at play when it comes to climate change though. We’d do well to focus on how we should adapt to inevitable climate change, rather than looking for ways to stop the change (which is impossible) or arguing about who’s responsible.
Photo: Byron Bay sunset by Steve McDonald