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Qing-Bin Lu Revives Long-Debunked Claims About Cosmic Rays And CFCs

By Climate Guest Contributor on June 2, 2013 at 8:00 am

"Qing-Bin Lu Revives Long-Debunked Claims About Cosmic Rays And CFCs"

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A (new) paper by Qing-Bin Lu in the International Journal of Modern Physics B is gaining attention for asserting that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), not CO2, is causing global warming. This sensationalist headline is typically repeated with little mention that Lu’s claims are not new, and they have not held up to scientific scrutiny in the past.

The following is a guest post by Climate Nexus. Text in PDF format here.

A new paper by Qing-Bin Lu in the International Journal of Modern Physics B is gaining coverage for its claim that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), not CO2, is causing global warming. This sensationalist headline is often repeated with little mention that Lu’s claims are not new, and have not held up to scientific scrutiny in the past. In fact, Lu has been promoting his theories about CFCs for years, and mainstream scientists have found no merit in them. Critics have said Lu makes a fundamental scientific error by confusing correlation with causation, and does not effectively challenge the physical evidence of the warming effects of CO2, a body of knowledge built up over 150 years.

The claim:

Lu argues that CFCs are responsible for causing global warming. He uses a complicated chain of logic starting with the premise that it is cosmic rays, not UV rays as most scientists think, that break down CFCs, and ending with the finding that after his calculations, the estimated warming impact of CFCs matches up closely with actual measured surface temperatures. He concludes that it must be CFCs, not CO2, that are causing surface temperatures to rise.

The facts:

- This theory has been considered and dismissed before. A 2010 report by the National Academies of Science was commissioned by Congress to examine all the evidence surrounding global warming including the theory that cosmic rays might influence Earth’s climate. It concluded that “a plausible physical mechanism… has not been demonstrated” and “cosmic rays are not regarded as an important climate forcing.”

- In 2011, a peer-reviewed paper found that Lu’s conclusions “are based solely on correlation… do not have a physical basis… and the findings of the IPCC… remain unchallenged.”

- In response to Lu’s most recent publication, several different scientists interviewed by the Vancouver Sun each said that Lu’s conclusions “[go] against 150 years of very fundamental physics.”

- Critics point out that Lu’s paper fails to make the leap from correlation to causation, one of the most basic and most common scientific failings. This error is simply illustrated in the classic fable of the rooster who believes the sun rises because he crows. Two things may happen at the same time, but this does not mean one causes the other. A “physical mechanism” by which the two events are connected must be known, in order to fully understand causation.

- In contrast, there is strong experimental evidence of the physical mechanism by which CO2 warms the planet, evidence that (as scientists have mentioned already in response to Lu) dates back 150 years.

Via Climate Science Watch. Top Chart via UK Telegraph.

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8 Responses to Qing-Bin Lu Revives Long-Debunked Claims About Cosmic Rays And CFCs

  1. BillD says:

    Seems like a clear break down of peer review. In general, it’s difficult to publish research in peer-reviewed journals, where there is no credible underlying mechanism for the proposed effects, but strong evidence for alternatives. So, am I correct in expecting that WUWT will be jumping all over this research as “conclusive evidence against greenhouse gas theory?

    • Lore says:

      It’s being used there as a strawman to establish the case that climate scientists dunno their onions about what causes climate change.

  2. JeffL says:

    A peer-reviewed journal is only as good as its editors, and those at the International Journal of Modern Physics B are simply not credible. After all, this is the same journal that published the flawed Gerlich and Tscheuschner paper on Thermodynamics and the Greenhouse effect. By releasing papers that are riddled with errors, the editors are simply not doing their job.

  3. Timothy Hughbanks says:

    … it is cosmic rays, not UV rays as most scientists think, that break down CFCs…

    Even from inside my university’s firewall, I can’t get access to the original paper, but if the above-quoted passage is correct, this paper should never have been published. This is an easily-tested hypothesis and can be (and has been) shown to be wrong – clearly and unambiguously wrong.

  4. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Denial comes in various shapes and sizes and exploits a range of vulnerabilities amongst the population. They don’t care how many times they get debunked by the well educated as that is not their target, ME

  5. Mark E says:

    Lu should have been expected to demonstrate how his paper reported something NEW

  6. David Lewis says:

    A version of the Lu paper is available on arXiv.com, i.e. here.

    Joe Farman, discoverer of the ozone hole, commented on Lu’s idea that cosmic rays and halocarbons (that most people refer to as CFCs) cause the ozone hole as opposed to UV photolysis and halocarbons by pointing out that Lu had no measurements, either in the lab or in situ, that backed up his case, and by pointing out that the observations and explanations of others contradicted him. See: Harris, Farman, and Fahey DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.89.219801 I don’t know of a non paywalled copy.

    I don’t see where in the paper Lu succeeds in connecting a cosmic ray/CFC caused ozone hole to climate as opposed to a UV/CFC caused ozone hole. I repeatedly raised eyebrows and broke out laughing, usually over something he chose to emphasize with italics.

    Lu declares that CO2, CH4 and N2O are saturated in the atmosphere with respect to outgoing infrared, and cites himself in a previous paper to prove it. He points to a 120 year period ending in 1950, declares CO2 was increasing and planetary average surface temperature wasn’t, and thus “proves” any further increase in CO2 can have no effect. He thus implies that the study of the relationship between GHGs and the planetary temperature going back hundreds of millions of years is meaningless. Since 1950, because CO2 CH4 and N2O increases are having no effect, and because he finds some correlation between changes in where 2% of the accumulating heat is, i.e. the global average surface temperature, and CFC concentration, shazam, CFCs are the cause of all recent planetary warming. The word “ocean” doesn’t appear in the paper. He shows no interest in and does not explain the steady accumulation of heat in the global ocean, where some 90% of incoming heat is accumulating.

    Because CO2, CH4 and N2O additions can have no further effect, and CFCs are declining, he then predicts that the planetary average surface temperature chart will also decline in coming decades.

    People are attacking him saying CFCs are not actually declining but there are reputable sources for this (WMO Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion:2010 Figure ES-1).

    Lu is wrong about CO2, CH4 and N2O, and he is wrong not to consider the global ocean. Even if CO2, CH4 and N2O were immediately stabilized and CFCs declined and HFCs were controlled the planet would continue to warm.