Those of you outside of the UK where I live undoubtedly heard about last November’s ‘Climategate’, where 1,000 e-mails and 2,000 documents covering climate change research from 1996 until 2009 came to light after computers at the UK’s University of East Anglia were hacked into.
The controversy concerned a small batch of emails, suggesting that some of the scientists in question file-drawed material that doesn’t fit their hypotheses about global warming. This week, I’ve been a fascinated spectator as an independent inquiry attempts to make sense of the whole business — and indeed the whole science.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that human beings, particularly those of us in the developed world, have to a great deal to learn about sharing more and consuming less on every front. Nevertheless, what is always missing from any debate on climate change is the effects of the planets and how they interrelate with us on earth.
Several years ago, a University of Toronto physicist named Jerry Mitrovica and Alessandro Forte, of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, published a paper in the prestigious scientific journal Nature showing, through mathematical calculations and simulations, a relationship between tiny changes in the earth’s shape and axial rotation, and the gravitational effects of other planets in our solar system, particularly Jupiter and Saturn.
The paper was fairly technical and the ideas a little obscure. Nevertheless, beneath all the science, they were making big claims.
“We’re showing for the first time that changes in the Earth’s shape, when coupled with the gravitational effects from other planets, can produce large changes in the Earth’s climate,” said Mitrovica, who is working on behalf of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (Earth Systems Evolution).
In his mathematical model, Mitrovica has shown that the earth’s orbit is affected by the gravitational pull of Saturn and Jupiter and, at some point during the last 20 million years, the earth encountered gravitational ‘resonance’ with the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn, which ultimately influenced the angle of tilt of the earth’s axis during that period.
Profound effect on climate change
Scientists realize that the slightest change in the earth’s axis has a profound effect on climate, because it changes the pattern of sunlight falling on the earth.
“To understand climate on Earth, it’s clear that we need to consider the Earth as this dynamic deforming system,” Mitrovica says. “But we also need to understand, more than we thought we did, the Earth’s place in the solar system.”
The gravitational pull of any particular planet is extraordinarily small, and many scientists don’t believe that, on its own, it would have much of an effect on the earth’s geomagnetic field.
However, some researchers including chronobiology expert Franz Halberg of the University of Minnesota believe that there are ‘tidal’ effects, in which the gravitational forces of the various planets also interact with the magnetic fields of the sun and moon as well as the solar wind.
This, then, has a cumulative effect on the magnetosphere — the geomagnetic field encasing the earth — which, ultimately, can have profound effects on climate and also biology.
Furthermore, as all the planets are exerting gravitational effects on each other, this would have, as one researcher pointed out, a ‘non-linear’, or ‘chaotic’, effect.
In an article published in 1989 in the journal New Scientist, Carl Murray, a reader in astronomy at Queen Mary College, University of London, noted that the reason that the planets orbit in an elliptical shape or rotate on their axis in a particular degree of tilt has to do with various gravitational effects.
The resonance effect can also be established between two planets when the time periods of their rotations around each other lock into a regular mathematical relationship. For instance, the moon rotates around the earth at the same time period as it rotates on its own axis. Other planets may circle around each other at two to three times what it takes them to rotate on their own axis. These relationships can slow down or speed up a rotation slightly and have a profound effect upon weather or even biological life.
These kinds of gravitational effects are magnified when a variety of planets are in alignment, such as occurs during an eclipse.
A greater effect than gravity is the electromagnetic effect of the planets, as the fields created by each solar body interact and affect the sun, the moon and, of course, the earth. Indeed, some scientists believe that it is the influence of planetary fields from the earth and the other planets that trigger solar activity like sunspots, and not the reverse.
It is also known that the interplanetary magnetic field (the space between the earth and the sun) and the earth’s geomagnetic envelope interact more during the equinoxes, largely due to the earth’s spin on its axis.
Scientists have long known that when planets are at major angles to each other (at 90 or 180 degrees, for instance), they will affect reception of radio signals. It is also known that when the earth is positioned at a particular angle to one of the major planets, such as Saturn, Jupiter or Venus, this, too, will affect the formation of sunspots or bursts of solar plasma.
These subtle interrelationships of electromagnetic fields and increases in solar activity once again, could add up to large effects on earth.
At the moment, the sun is acting strangely. Several years ago, NASA and the Max Planck Institute in Germany, recorded a record-breaking number of sunspots and coronal mass ejections — a ‘unique solar maximum in history’, noted George Withbroe, director of NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection Office.
According to a number of scientists, such as Dr. Alexey Dmitriev, a geologist with Russia’s Academy of Science, this is likely to cause a ‘general reorganization of the electro-magnetosphere of our planet’. Dmitriev also notes that the earth’s magnetic poles are shifting, to a major inversion.
It may not be too farfetched to suggest that this massive change in geomagnetics could not only cause a change in our weather but also in ourselves after the peak of this cycle: 2012.
This all is a little humbling. The modern human conceit is to think of ourselves every way, as top dog — at the very apex of the chain of being and the most influential entity in the universe.
Some of this research suggests that our little planet is knocked about by the capriciousness of the heavens, most particularly that ball of hydrogen crossed with a layer of unstable magnetic fields — roughly the size of one hundred earths — that is responsible for our very existence.
What I’m suggesting is not to go out a buy a four-wheel drive, but rather to understand our our place in the universe — not as its master so much as its humble servant. We and all the other living things of the earth are simply be part of a vast, complex energy system, and we do well, as I noted in my Powering Up program, to time intention at certain strategic solar configurations.
We would do well to learn from ancient cultures, which had a far greater respect and appreciation and respect for planetary influences. They knew when the heavens were angry and when to lay low.
Perhaps it is time to step back from climate change and to understand that it may not be all man’s fault. We simply may not have the power.