The Chilling Stars
A New Theory of Climate Change

Hendrick Svensmark & Nigel Calder

• Paperback:
256 pages
• Publisher:
Totem Books (March 25. 2007)
• Language:
• ISBN-10:
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Review on 14 April 2007 by Donald N. Anderson. A version of this review is on under the title “Fascinating book puts climate temperature change into context.”

Having read some of the research by Henrick Svensmark’s team, I eagerly awaited this book. It explains in terms accessible to the intelligent layman how cosmic rays contribute to low level cloud formation. It expounds a most believable explanation for the current warming trend.

I was more than amply rewarded as Mr. Calder’s excellent writing takes a complicated subject and patiently explains its most prominent features. After reading his chapter, “Adventures of the cosmic rays,” I felt much better informed on this crucial topic. Later he moves through a wealth of observations, interdisciplinary discoveries, and innumerable research studies tying them to temperature effects. Our sun and the Milky Way galaxy have a major impact through cosmic rays on our planet’s temperature.

Research papers necessarily focus on a specific experiment or data gathering exercise, so this survey book is essential to fit Svensmark’s research into the broader picture. It surprised and delighted me by the tremendous variety of interrelationships that have been discovered. These all relate to the effect cosmic rays have on the formation of clouds in the earth’s lower troposphere. An interesting outgrowth is that long term temperature measurements on earth have suggested something so esoteric as revisions to our sun’s path through the galaxy.

We have known for a couple of centuries that there seemed to be some correlation between wheat prices (a proxy for temperature variation) and sunspots. Prominent researchers in the last 2 decades have suggested further study after observing that temperature history tracks sunspots better than greenhouse gases.

Others note the rather small anthropogenic contribution to the growth of greenhouse gases. Thus, a significant human-caused temperature effect is unlikely, even if greenhouse gases are implicated.

Still others found that the predicted warming of the atmosphere above the earth’s surface simply did not occur. In 1996 the existing theory for formation of clouds in the troposphere was killed (NASA measurements published in 1998). It became apparent that we knew a lot less about the formation of clouds than most people assumed.

The Svensmark team has demonstrated a new cloud formation mechanism in a conceptually simple, but technically brilliant experiment. It showed the rapid formation of aerosols critical to building clouds in the basement of their labs in
Copenhagen. This aerosol formation requires the presence of highly energetic cosmic rays that pass through all of us with great frequency (including their basement). With variations in the solar wind sweeping aside some cosmic rays, it is now possible to explain the last millennium’s temperature variations. The explanation works not only for the globe, but also for the various regions of the globe, such as Antarctica. Existing warming theory based on greenhouse gases has been unable to do this.

CERN plans to replicate the Svensmark experiment with significant extensions using their large accelerators.

Researchers have only minimal information on global cloud cover with which to make reflectivity calculations. Two spacecraft were inserted into orbit in April 2006 to specifically measure the earth’s cloud cover. We should have better information to compute the effects of lower troposphere clouds on the earth’s temperature in 2009-2010.

Europe’s Gaia space mission starting in 2011 will more precisely map newly formed stars on the near side of our galaxy. Hopefully we can then date sources of cosmic rays that have affected the earth’s long term temperature history.

Because this new theory of climate change fits temperature and cosmic history so well, it is starting to become the driver suggesting important areas for further research. It is a welcome relief from a theory that, relying on dated and inaccurate information, is unable to withstand the impact of improved measurements, refined analysis, and new observations.

This book covers so much territory in so few pages, no brief review can begin to do it justice. If you have any interest in global temperature trends you simply must read this book!