Is Global Warming Actually Cooling?

A change in Mars' climate might be an interesting bit of cocktail party conversation and nothing more, but for the fact that the warming on Mars has largely coincided with the surface temperature increases observed on Earth. This brings into question the prevalent "conventional wisdom" on global warming, which holds that the fact that humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere via automobiles and industrial processes is to blame for temperature change. That was the conclusion of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which has been widely reported in vastly simplified versions. But, increasingly, scientists are risking being ostracized by asking for a hard look at the data before buying into what some have characterized as a heavily politicized view of the issue.

One such scientist is Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov of Petersburg's (Russia) Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory. He points to observations from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions that reveal that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars' South Pole have been diminishing for three years running. Since there are no Martians driving SUVs or operating electrical generating stations on the red planet, this finding signals to Abdussamatov, who heads space research at the observatory, that the current surface and sea water warming trend on Earth is being driven by changes in the amount of energy emitted by the sun.

"Mars has global warming, but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians,' he told Lawrence Solomon of the Canadian Financial Post. "These parallel global warmings -- observed simultaneously on Mars and on Earth -- can only be a straight-line consequence of the effect of the one same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance."

According to the Russian scientist, it is this increased radiation of energy cast off by the sun that has, over the last century, triggered the widely acknowledged global warming. Under-reported is the fact that the warming has not been a continual uptrend since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of the automobile. In fact, over the course of the past 150 years, Earth has cooled and warmed at various times and by various degrees. One thing that all scientists seem to agree on is that the climate of Earth has never remained stable.

While Dr. Abdussamatov's view that the sun and not a collection of C02 and other "greenhouse gases" has led to the surface warming trend that has been observed, that isn't the only grenade he has thrown at the conventional view of global warming. Not only does he scoff at the notion that an accumulation of "greenhouse gases" has led to global warming, but he also asserts that global warming caused by the sun has actually been the cause of the proliferation of "greenhouse gases."

"It is no secret that increased solar irradiance warms Earth's oceans, which then triggers the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," he said. "So the common view that man's industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations."

And there's one more kicker. Abdussamatov also suggests that the recent era of global warming is at or near its end. He points to some observed cooling of the upper layers of the world's oceans as evidence that a cooling period is in the offing as early as 2012, and he further predicted that the cooling could last some 50 years.

Driving Today Contributing Editor Tom Ripley writes about climate, the automotive industry and the human condition from his home in Villeperce, France.