New science asserting itself in global warming debate: Will Vermont leadership pay attention?

by Rob Roper

In the year 1615, Galileo got crosswise of his contemporaries and the political establishment when he dared to defend the idea that the Sun, not the human populated Earth, was the center of the solar system. It was a testament to the ego of humans (and a an overwhelming majority of the scientific community at the time) that insisted, no, we have to be at the center of things. Everything must revolve around us!

For pointing out that it doesn’t (and threatening the power and profitability of the church) Galileo earned himself a ticket to the Inquisition and, after being forced to recant his scientific findings, spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Of course, it didn’t make him any less right in the end.

Ironically, the political battle over global warming turns out to be shaping up along similar lines, with the Sun once again reminding us that it, not we little humans, is the alpha dog in our corner of the galaxy.

CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) sent out a press release on August 25 stating, “We’ve found that cosmic rays significantly enhance the formation of aerosol particles in the mid troposphere and above. These aerosols can eventually grow into the seeds for clouds.”

In a nutshell, CERN’s successful CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) experiment supports Danish physicist Hernick Svenesmark’s Cosmoclimatology theory of climate change, which posits that cosmic rays have more effect on the climate than manmade CO2. Sixty three scientists signed the research. These aren’t kooks working out a garage, CERN is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.

The question for Vermonters is will our leaders pay attention to this science as we plot the future economic path of our state? The odds don’t appear good.

Speaking on Democracy Now in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Governor Peter Shumlin said, “Well, you know, I find it extraordinary that so many political leaders won’t actually talk about the relationship between climate change, fossil fuels, our continuing irrational exuberance about burning fossil fuels, in light of these storm patterns that we’ve been experiencing.”

This follows earlier comments in which Shumlin blamed the flooding earlier in the summer on manmade global warming.

In addition, Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Human Services, Patrick Flood was recently arrested in Washington D.C. while protesting a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to Texas along with Vermont environmental celebrity, Bill McKibben. Flood apparently thought that making a statement about manmade global warming was more important than doing his job in Vermont during and in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

Flood told a reporter for Gannett News, “There’s no question in my mind that what happened in Vermont is directly related to climate change, and the government isn’t taking it seriously enough.”

But, what if the scientists at CERN are right and our politician are wrong about the causes of the earth’s temperature fluctuations?

Back in 2007, then Senator Shumlin said of manmade, CO2-driven global warming, “This is going to be the focus of the next generation. Trust me. When you look at the problems like property tax and health care and saving our family farms, all those are incredibly important. But I’ll tell you they will be little dwarfs in comparison to this issue.” This is a theme he echoed during his campaign for governor.

Can Vermonters afford an economic policy, a jobs policy, a tax policy based on a theory that is flat out wrong, or, at least grossly overestimated? Do we really want our property tax crisis, our health care crisis, saving our family farms, and, in the case of Deputy Secretary Flood, serving Vermonters in time of natural disaster to take a back seat to a belief that is not based on the soundest of facts?

There is still a chance that global warming (or cooling, which is what Svenesmark says we’re actually in for) caused by the solar activity will provide the spark for jobs and economic growth, but it will be fueled by entrepreneurs to providing us with products, ideas and innovations that will help us adapt to a changing world.

Believing that man can stop the world (indeed, the solar system) from changing, something it has always done, is, however, about as foolish a notion as believing the earth and the people on it are the most important things at the center of the universe. We weren’t in Galileo’s time, and we aren’t now.

One thought on “New science asserting itself in global warming debate: Will Vermont leadership pay attention?

  1. But cosmic rays mostly don’t come from the Sun, they came from galaxy background radiation. They are also not varying to any significant degree. Whatever effect cosmic rays might have on clouds, it’s not changing.

    Solar output is also only varying by a fraction of a percent, with the sunspot cycle.

    Meanwhile, the average global temperature for the decade 2001-2010 was 0.16 degC higher than 1991-2000 which was in turn 0.18 degC higher than 1981-1990. Houston, we have a problem.

    I do agree though that if Shumlin really cares about the environment, the very last thing he should be doing is closing Vermont Yankee.

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