Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

After Copenhagen: Have We A Prayer?

The protesters protested - and got nicked for their trouble.

The NGOs lobbied - and many of them were nicked too, or barred from the conference like Friends of the Earth.

Lazy people like me blogged and emailed.

But all to no avail. COP15 was a disaster and a damp squib at the same time (if that's possible).

So what do we do now?

We can lobby for another meeting next year, we can boycott goods from the two countries most responsible for the impasse: China and the USA, we can.......

Can anyone think of anything that we can do that will actually work??

Perhaps divine intervention is what we need. But which deity should we invoke?

As far as I can see there is one glimmer of hope in the science of climate change, one factor which may slow, if not halt, the rise in global temperatures that appears to spell the end of civilised life as we know it. It's a bit of a long shot, but here it is.

When I was an undergraduate Astrophysics student my final year project was observing the sun and measuring solar flares. I didn't see many. The telescope was positioned in such a way that after midday the sun was obscured behind the Social Sciences building and what student worth his Newcastle Brown is up and about before midday? However I can't blame the sun for not doing its bit as the late 1980s were a bit of a high for solar activity.

Since then though it's all been downhill for our nearest star. Solar activity has steadily reduced and sun spots are disappearing. This variation in solar output is tiny really, and hardly likely on its own to counteract the effect of pumping millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. However there is some evidence (well, not much more than speculation really) that there might be an additional mechanism that multiplies the effects of solar activity on climate.

Reduced solar wind from a less active sun allows more cosmic rays to get through to the earth. Cosmic rays are high energy particles formed in the heart of distant exploding stars. The hunch is that when they hit our atmosphere they in some way 'seed' clouds. More clouds mean more sunlight reflected back into space and a cooler climate. The reduction in solar activity since I graduated is small at the moment, but the disappearance of sun spots over the last few years has led some astronomers to speculate that we may be at the start of a big downturn in solar output.

This possible link is currently being examined by the CLOUD project at CERN, next to the Large Hadron Collider. The latter hopes to unlock the secrets of the Higgs Boson, the so called 'God particle' which defines mass. The Higgs particle may be a funny sort of god, but our dear old sun is a deity that pagans can identify with.

To the Ancient Egyptian the sun was Aten, and was revered with the song we know as the Great Hymn to Aten. The Christians borrowed this an it became Psalm 104.

On Monday its the longest night of the year, the day the sun is reborn. and so as a sun worshipping Druid I feel it is only my duty to call upon our nearest star to do its duty and give us a bit of a break so that humanity can get its collective act together and kick its carbon addiction.

Well, I said it was a long shot!

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