Baliunas Says Global Warming Related To Sun
In her lecture series, "Warming Up to the Truth: The Real Story About Climate Change," astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas shared her findings Tuesday at the University of Texas at Tyler R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center.
Dr. Baliunas' work with fellow Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Willie Soon suggests global warming is more directly related to solar variability than to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, an alternative view to what's been widely publicized in the mainstream media.
"Some people argue solar influence is large; some argue it is small. I'm somewhere in the middle," she said during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Her research goes back to time periods when the amount of carbon emission was small enough that it wasn't a major player.
"If you go back far enough you eliminate some of your variables," she said. "I've always been interested with the changes of the sun and how they impact the earth. I decided to look at a narrower time scale this time."
Baliunas asserts that increases and decreases in solar output led to historically warmer and cooler periods.
Baliunas said concerns for world energy poverty should be more significant than worrying about something 100 years from now.
"I'm all for saving energy resources and eradicating energy poverty around the world," she said. "One can be concerned by the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and come to it from the philosophical idea of caution. We just don't want to take the chance; still we can take a view of precaution."
She also said civilizations have always looked for the cause of climate changes.
In 16th and 17th century Europe, thousands were executed for what was called "weather cooking," where religious and political institutions blamed witches - mostly women - for poor growing periods or storms.
Dr. Baliunas received her M.A. (1975) and Ph.D. (1980) degrees in Astrophysics from Harvard University. She serves as senior scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute in Washington, D.C., and chairs the Institute's Science Advisory Board.
Her talk was part of the university's Distinguished Lecture Series.