A critique on Veizer’s Celestial Climate Driver

When Veizer summarises in bold type face ‘(above) empirical observations on all time scales point to celestial phenomena as the principal driver of climate’, he neglects to discuss the fact that the stratosphere has been cooling, which at higher levels is consistent with an enhanced greenhouse effect (most of the cooling in the lower stratosphere is related to changes in ozone) but inconsistent with enhanced solar activity and his CRF-hypothesis. Another argument Veizer uses to support his hypothesis is that the correlation between the proxy indicators for CRF is better correlated with ‘climate’ than between CO2 and climate. Yet he does not provide any references or justify his argument. I find this statement rather puzzling, as it seems to me that there is a good correlation between the CO2 and temperature proxies such as can be seen in Veizer’s own figure 7. The same seems to be the case in Fig. 1 below:

Fig.1: A comparison between CO2 and CRF indices with temperature proxy. Superimposed is the Beryllium-10 (blue). All curves are standardised. (paleaoproxy.R).

If we’re looking at the last century, then there is a sulphate aerosol “blip” that worsens the CO2-T correlation. But there are also times when there are distinctive features in the CRF proxies in Veizer (2005) figure 8, when there is no corresponding response in the temperature (figure 7 of Veizer, 2005). Actually, I do not see much resemblance between the CRF-proxies presented in the paper and the temperature proxy, and there is no quantitative statistical analysis of their correspondence. Thus, the above statement appears to be a value judgement, rather than an objective observation. Along the same vein, the paper claims there is a good degree of correspondence between the timing sunspot minima and minima in precipitation curves in Veizer (2005) figure 16. I do not find his (hand waving?) arguments convincing. Note, the paper does not offer any quantitative statistical analysis on the correspondence of these curves. Nor does it discuss how the CRF-proxies may have been affected by past variations geomagnetic field, which clearly would degrade any correlation between CRF and climatic indices. It should be noted that proper attribution studies don’t just do correlations, they are rather more sophisticated. There is the possibility of the presence of a common cause that may have affected the various isotope records (representing both CRF and ‘climate’), and Veizer does not even mention the possibility that the deposition efficiency of these may be affected by climate itself (e.g. circular reasoning).

At other times, the discussion misrepresents the current knowledge when comparing only the clouds’ albedo effect with the CO2 forcing, and not the net effect including the absorption of long-wave radiation (p. 14, 2nd cloumn). The Veizer (2005) paper also tends to make strong statements based on controversial papers (eg. Soon and Baliunas, 2003; p .20, 3rd column – several editors left the journal after it was published because they felt it was flawed). I find Veizer’s reference to other work very selective. The role of CRF as a driver for climate is indeed controversial, and this fact is not acknowledged in the paper.

On a more technical note, an R-script gcr.R is available from this site which helps you retrieve the CRF-data over the Internet and plot the data. Please use it, play around, and see for yourself. Another script, paleaoproxy.R is also available here, and is makes Fig. 1 above.


Richardson et al. (2002), “Long-term trends in interplanetary magnetic field strength and solar wind structure during the twentieth Century”, J. Geophys. Res., Vol 107, A10

Veizer, J. (2005) “Celestial Climate Driver: A Perspective From Four Billion Years Of The Carbon Cycle”, Geoscience Canada, vol 32, no. 1, 13-30.

30 June 2005

Addendum: “Celestial Driver” Part 2

In the above post, time permitted us only to discuss a few of Veizer’s arguments, focussing mainly on the cosmic ray flux. Here we take a look at some of the other arguments presented in his paper.

Solar cycle length

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