Wednesday 13th of November in Dublin & Wednesday 20th November in Cork
CLIMATE CHANGE: THE CURRANT BUN* AND OTHER PLAYERS
An informal talk with facts, falsehoods, speculations and uncertainties
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserts that humans are causing global temperature to rise by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) through the use of fossil fuels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reiterates this IPCC teaching. Should we believe the IPCC or not? As a geologist I believe that climate is always changing naturally, influenced by various causes. During the last 4 years, as time permitted, I felt the need to reach my own conclusions on climate change, once referred to as global warming and now as extreme climate. Although my ongoing reading has led me to the Sun, other factors have also become apparent. The Sun and other climate drivers are either ignored or dismissed by the IPCC as insignificant.
I was born quite soon after the Solar Maximum of cycle 17, though remained ignorant of that fact until the Grand Solar Maximum of cycle 19 when I was lucky to witness frequently the aurora borealis from within the Arctic Circle. This was my second lesson in Sun–Earth interaction. Lesson 1 had been spread over my childhood and school years and related to the Sun’s irradiation of Earth by its spectrum of electromagnetic energy. Normal unaided sight utilizes the visible part of the spectrum; heat is transmitted as infrared radiation and sunburn is caused by ultra-violet radiation. Radio and x-ray wavelengths also emanate from the Sun. Lesson 2 was particularly exciting because processes of a more violent nature were apparent. Earth is subjected to fluctuating particle bombardment (mainly protons, atomic nuclei and electrons) from the solar wind, solar flares and coronal mass emissions, as well as magnetic disturbances, all consequent on the Sun’s own variable magnetic field.
The Grand Solar Maximum of cycle 19 was designated as the International Geophysical Year (actually spanning 18 months) because the Sun was more active then than it had been at any time since regular monitoring began in 1755, and back to 1700 using proxy indicators. Since cycle 19 the Sun’s activity has declined to the present day and we are now at the Solar Maximum of cycle 24 with the lowest Solar Maximum activity for approximately one hundred years.
I became a geologist and focused initially on diamond geology in Sierra Leone. Eventually I spent 30 years in the Geological Survey of Ireland and learnt that Pleistocene glacial deposits are an impediment to examining bedrock. I was involved with mainly late Precambrian Dalradian rocks and there I encountered the locally extensive deformed and metamorphosed Precambrian glacio-marine deposits of the globally recognized Sturtian glaciation that gave rise to the name ‘Snowball Earth’. I also spent periods involved in diverse projects, including 3 years in uranium, and ultimately in the Ocean Drilling Program. I have remained informally at the GSI for a further 10 years, busy with other things.
In this talk l shall review some of my findings. It will be suited to geologists because they appreciate time, as do astronomers and cosmologists, and they also appreciate that climate changes naturally. Why should geologists not involved in Pleistocene or Holocene studies be interested in climate change? Earth is our home, yet is a dynamic planet orbiting a G2-type, yellow dwarf, main sequence, variable star that we call the Sun. This thermonuclear fusion reactor is by far our main energy source and we still have much to learn about it. Climate changes in the geological past have at times been severe. What drives climate change? What do we know of likely future changes? What will cause them and how soon will they come?
*Cockney rhyming slang for Sun. Put more formally, Climate change: the Sun and other drivers.