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Is the Sun to blame for global warming?

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A paper blaming the Sun for global warming has been retracted. Here's why.

Scientists want to know why Earth's atmosphere and oceans are warming faster than at any time in planetary history. The leading theory, and the one that appears to be most accurate, is that greenhouse gasses are trapping energy from the Sun in the biosphere. However, some scientists have wondered if the Sun itself could be to blame. A recent paper suggesting as much offered a hypothesis. But the paper has been retracted. Is the Sun free from blame? 

Is the Sun to blame for global warming?

Is the Sun to blame for global warming?

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/6/2020 (8 months ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Global warming, Sun, paper, retraction, science

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network ) - A paper that hypothesized how the Sun could influence global warming has been retracted. This is a good thing, and it demonstrates that science works. 

For decades, scientists have struggled to discern the many variables that influence Earth's climate and temperature. For well over a century, scientists have worried that CO2 emissions could cause the planet's atmosphere to heat up. Indeed, more than a century of measurements have confirmed this theory. In fact, human CO2 emissions are not only warming the atmosphere, they are warming the oceans at an even faster rate, causing acidification, killing coral reefs, and fueling extreme weather events around the globe. 

While the scientific consensus is that humans are warming the planet, there is also the question of what role the Sun plays in Earth's warming. Obviously, the Sun is the almost exclusive source of energy for planet Earth. Could the Sun, a massive ball of nuclear fusion just eight light-minutes from Earth be causing or contributing to global warming? 

It is a fact that Earth has been hotter and cooler than it is now. The planet appears to experience cycles of warming and cooling which are related to the Sun. Could we be seeing the same thing just now? 

A team of scientists published a paper in which they argued the effect of other planets on the Sun's center of gravity could be influencing global warming. The paper was submitted by Dr. Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University in the UK. It was published in June 2019 in Scientific Reports. 

The paper argued that other planets tug and pull on the Sun. The result is, the planets do not orbit the precise center of the Sun, but instead orbit a center of gravity between the core and the planets called the barycentre. Jupiter has the greatest effect, and the other planets have less, but all of the planets have some effect, even if minuscule. The paper concluded that the movement of the Sun in relation to the Earth was at least contributing to the phenomenon of global warming. 

Publication of the paper in a scientific journal does not mean its conclusions are solid. Instead, papers are published as part of the scientific method, which requires peer review to verify conclusions. This is how science works. 

In this case, the peer review was critical. Experts pointed out the Earth moves almost in tandem with the Sun, therefore the change in the Sun's relationship to Earth is insignificant. 

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As the critiques piled up, it became clear the science was flawed and the paper was retracted. 

This should not be a source of embarrassment for the scientists who published the paper. Instead, this is how the scientific method works; it is self-correcting. As other scientists check the work of their peers, faulty conclusions are discarded. The scientists who attempted the work should be lauded for doing so, and can use the knowledge to inform future work. 

For now, the Sun has been exonerated as a culprit in global warming. The planet's temperature is spiking too fast to be a purely natural phenomenon. As the Earth's temperature increases faster than natural selection can keep up, many species of plants and animals go extinct. This is precisely what is being observed at present. Only a significant decrease in the global output of CO2 emissions can reverse the problem, but so far such changes do not appear agreeable or workable to the various powers that be. 

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