Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 34

Thread: Did 'Junk Science' Make John Edwards Rich?

  1. #1
    Tom The Nader Fan™
    Guest
    Did 'Junk Science' Make John Edwards Rich?
    By Marc Morano
    CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
    January 20, 2004

    (CNSNews.com) - The superstar trial lawyer accomplishments of John Edwards, which allowed this former millworker to amass a personal fortune, finance his successful U.S. Senate run in 1998 and catapult himself into the 2004 race for president, may have been partially built on "junk science," according to legal and medical experts who spoke with CNSNews.com .

    Edwards, who with a late surge finished second in Monday's Iowa Caucuses, continues to cite one of his most lucrative legal victories as an example of how he would stand up for "the little guy" if elected president.

    Edwards became one of America's wealthiest trial lawyers by winning record jury verdicts and settlements in cases alleging that the botched treatment of women in labor and their deliveries caused infants to develop cerebral palsy, a brain disorder that causes motor function impairment and lifelong disability.

    Although he was involved in other types of personal injury litigation, Edwards specialized in infant cerebral palsy and brain damage cases during his early days as a trial lawyer and with the Raleigh, N.C., firm of Edwards & Kirby.

    Edwards has repeatedly told campaign audiences that he fought on behalf of the common man against the large insurance companies. But a political critic with extensive knowledge of Edwards' legal career in North Carolina told CNSNews.com a different story

    "Edwards always helped the little guy as long as he got a million dollars out of it," said the source, who did not want to be identified.

    The cause of cerebral palsy has been debated since the 19th century. Some medical studies dating back to at least the 1980s asserted that doctors could do very little to cause cerebral palsy during the birthing process. Two new studies in 2003 further undermined the scientific premise of the high profile court cases that helped Edwards become a multi-millionaire and finance his own successful campaign for the U.S. Senate.

    Dr. Murray Goldstein, a neurologist and the medical director of the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation, said it is conceivable for a doctor's incompetence to cause cerebral palsy in an infant. "There are some cases where the brain damage did occur at the time of delivery. But it's really unusual. It's really quite unusual," Goldstein said.

    "The overwhelming majority of children that are born with developmental brain damage, the ob/gyn could not have done anything about it, could not have, not at this stage of what we know," Goldstein added.

    The medical and legal experts with whom CNSNews.com consulted said each case of cerebral palsy had to be evaluated on its own, but that medical science was increasingly exonerating the doctors involved in the labor and delivery where cerebral palsy resulted.

    Eldon L. Boisseau of the Kansas-based firm Turner and Boisseau, specializing in defending doctors' insurance companies from medical malpractice lawsuits, agreed that physician-caused cerebral palsy "occurs only rarely."

    "At the end of the day, I verily believe we will find [the cause of cerebral palsy is] all genetic," Boisseau said in an interview with CNSNews.com.

    Dr. John Freeman, a professor of neurology and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., also believes there is little obstetricians can do to prevent cerebral palsy during delivery. "Most cases of cerebral palsy are not due to asphyxia," Freeman told CNSNews.com.

    "A great many of these cases are due to subtle infections of the child before birth," Freeman said. "That is the cause of the premature labor and the cause of the [brain] damage. There is little or no evidence that if you did a [caesarean] section a short time earlier you would prevent cerebral palsy," he added.

    'Heart wrenching plea'

    But some of Edwards' critics say that as a trial lawyer, he relied more on his verbal skills than the latest scientific evidence to persuade juries that the doctors' mistakes had been instrumental in causing the cerebral palsy in the infants.

    Edwards' trial summaries "routinely went beyond a recitation of his case to a heart-wrenching plea to jurors to listen to the unspoken voices of injured children," according to a comprehensive analysis of Edwards' legal career by The Boston Globe in 2003.

    The Globe cited an example of Edwards' oratorical skills from a medical malpractice trial in 1985. Edwards had alleged that a doctor and a hospital had been responsible for the cerebral palsy afflicting then-five-year-old Jennifer Campbell.

    'I have to tell you right now -- I didn't plan to talk about this -- right now I feel her (Jennifer), I feel her presence,' Edwards told the jury according to court records. "[Jennifer's] inside me and she's talking to you ... And this is what she says to you. She says, 'I don't ask for your pity. What I ask for is your strength. And I don't ask for your sympathy, but I do ask for your courage.'"

    Edwards' emotional plea worked. Jennifer Campbell's family won a record jury verdict of $6.5 million against the hospital where the girl was born -- a judgment reduced later to $2.75 million on appeal. Edwards also settled with Jennifer's obstetrician for $1.5 million.

    Legal expert Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book, The Rule of Lawyers, said Edwards' success in court was due in large part to his mastery of one important trait.

    "Edwards was clearly very good at managing the emotional tenor of a trial and that turns out to be at least as important as any particular skill in the sense of researching the fine points of law," Olson told CNSNews.com .

    "These are the skills that you find in successful trial lawyers. They can tell a story that produces a certain emotional response. It's a gift," Olson added.

    However, Olson believes trial lawyers "have been getting away with an awful lot in cerebral palsy litigation," by excluding certain scientific evidence.

    "[Trial lawyers] have been cashing in on cases where the doctor's conduct probably did not make any difference at all -- cases where the child was doomed to this condition based on things that happened before they ever got to the delivery room," Olson said.

    'Junk science in the courtroom'

    Peter Huber, a lawyer and author of the book, Galileo's Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom, believes juries are typically manipulated with emotional arguments to aid the plaintiff's case.

    "The jury sees the undisputed trauma first, the disputed negligence second, the undisputed cerebral palsy third. It is a perfect set-up for misinterpreting sequence as cause," Huber wrote.

    According to Boisseau, the growing body of scientific studies showing that obstetricians are generally blameless in cerebral palsy cases has done nothing to alter the trend of multi-million dollar court settlements. Those settlements are reached, Boisseau said, even though "a lot of the plaintiff's expert science is unsupported, essentially junk science."

    Many juries never even get to hear about the medical science or the origins of cerebral palsy because "90 percent of suits for obstetrical malpractice are settled" out of court, noted Freeman of Johns Hopkins Hospital.

    Huber does not expect cerebral palsy cases to fade away, despite the growing body of scientific evidence exonerating doctors.

    "Despite the almost complete absence of scientific basis for these [medical malpractice] claims, cerebral palsy cases remain enormously attractive to lawyers," Huber wrote.

    The judgments or settlements related to medical malpractice lawsuits that focused on brain-damaged infants with cerebral palsy helped Edwards amass a personal fortune estimated at between $12.8 and $60 million. He and his wife own three homes, each worth more than $1 million, according to Edwards' Senate financial disclosure forms. Edwards' old law firm reportedly kept between 25 and 40 percent of the jury awards/settlements during the time he worked there.

    According to the Center for Public Integrity, Edwards was able to win "more than $152 million" based on his involvement in 63 lawsuits alone. The legal profession recognized Edwards' achievements by inducting him into the prestigious legal society called the Inner Circle of Advocates, which includes the nation's top 100 lawyers. Lawyers Weekly also cited Edwards as one of America's "Lawyers of the Year" in 1996.

    'The kids and families I've fought for'

    Edwards has shifted his emotionally charged speeches from the jury box to the presidential campaign trail and is fond of re-telling the story of how his firm sued on behalf of a cerebral palsy-afflicted boy named Ethan Bedrick in 1996.

    Ethan, born in North Carolina in 1992, allegedly developed cerebral palsy after a botched delivery. Edwards has explained to audiences at presidential campaign rallies that suing Ethan's insurance carrier, Travelers Insurance Co., to cover the boy's physical therapy was necessary because "Ethan's family had no choice.

    "[The family was] forced to go to court to get their son the care he needed," Edwards has said of the case, which his law firm won.

    Edwards has repeatedly cited Ethan's case as an example of "the kids and families I've fought for," and in the minds of many political observers positioned himself as the classic David against the insurance industry's Goliath.

    However, Edwards has also repeatedly failed to mention that he had represented Ethan Bedrick in a lawsuit against the boy's obstetrician a year earlier in 1995. Edwards had alleged that the doctor was negligent in failing to prevent the boy's oxygen deprivation during labor and therefore had caused the boy's cerebral palsy.

    Edwards settled the malpractice case with the doctor's insurance company less than three weeks into the trial, enabling Ethan's family to get a reported $5 million for medical and living expenses. The case was reportedly the largest medical malpractice settlement in North Carolina history.

    'I'm proud of that'

    Edwards is not shy about defending his legal career and says he would gladly put his record up against that of President Bush in this year's general election.

    "The time I spent in courtrooms representing kids and families against, you know, big insurance companies and big drug companies and big corporate America -- I'm proud of that," Edwards told the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes in December 2003.

    But Edwards' critics have a different view of the man; they say he has repeatedly acted to enrich himself.

    "John Edwards' spin is always -- I am helping the little guy. But he screened his cases to the point that he only helped people that were going to make him richer," said the CNSNews.com source with extensive knowledge of Edwards' legal career.

    Dr. Lorne Hall, one of the physicians with whom Edwards reached a confidential settlement in a malpractice case involving cerebral palsy, agreed, telling The Charlotte Observer in 2003 that "[Edwards] knows how to pick cases, and he knows the ones he can win."

    Hall said Edwards was "very polished, very polite, dressed to the T's, smiling at the ladies." But the anonymous source for this story said Edwards displayed a "belligerent attitude" toward the medical profession.

    "He sued nurses, doctors, hospitals. The reputation he had was -- he never wanted to hear that nobody did anything wrong. If you even walked by the door of an alleged malpractice incident, you were gong to cough up money too," the source said.

    But John Hood, president of the free-market, Raleigh, N.C.-based John Locke Foundation said Edwards tailored the evidence in his court cases for maximum impact.

    "In pursuing his client's cases he did what many other trial lawyers do. He bent the available evidence to fit what he wanted to say," Hood told CNSNews.com . "That is the nature of an advocacy system," Hood added

    Hood does not fault Edwards for the strategies he used as a trial lawyer.

    "He was an advocate for his clients. It was his job to make the best possible case for them," Hood said.

    Many legal observers agree that Edwards was simply doing his job and doing it very well.

    A North Carolina newspaper, The News and Observer, said Edwards "forged a reputation as one of the most skilled plaintiff's attorneys in the business."

    Retired North Carolina Superior Court Judge Robert Farmer, who heard many of Edwards' arguments in court, had nothing but praise for the abilities of the former trial lawyer, turned senator.

    "He was probably the best I ever had in the 21 years I had on the bench. Lawyers would come in to watch him, to see what he does," Farmer told the Chicago Tribune in December 2003.

    'Scientifically unfounded'

    Olson said lawsuits blaming obstetricians for cerebral palsy and other infant brain damage "may constitute the single biggest branch of medical malpractice litigation." Cerebral palsy is diagnosed in about 8,000 infants annually in the U.S.

    But the recent scientific studies may make those lawsuits "scientifically unfounded," Olson explained. He contends that the medical malpractice suits that enabled Edwards and other trial lawyers to become rich and famous are crippling medical specialties like obstetrics, emergency room medicine and neurosurgery.

    "A few years ago every neurosurgeon in Washington D.C., had been sued, and it can't be because the nation's capital gets only bad neurosurgeons. It's because it's too tempting to file against the competent ones because so many terrible things go wrong with their patients," Olson added.

    Edwards, who opposes legislation that would cap damages in liability lawsuits, would not respond to repeated requests through his campaign offices for comment.

  2. #2
    Veteran
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    247
    Post Thanks / Like
    [img]http://www.monkeytime.org/LakeyImages/LakeyFamily.jpg[/img]

    Hood does not fault Edwards for the strategies he used as a trial lawyer.

    "He was an advocate for his clients. It was his job to make the best possible case for them," Hood said.

  3. #3
    Hall Of Fame
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    11,692
    Post Thanks / Like
    [quote][i]Originally posted by gobbles[/i]@Jul 19 2004, 09:01 AM
    [b] [img]http://www.monkeytime.org/LakeyImages/LakeyFamily.jpg[/img]

    Hood does not fault Edwards for the strategies he used as a trial lawyer.

    "He was an advocate for his clients. It was his job to make the best possible case for them," Hood said. [/b][/quote]
    That's great- he's a very good lawyer. So is Johnny Cochran, it doesn't mean I want him running the country some day, and it doesn't validate what he does simply because he's good at it. It is indisputable that health care costs are much higher for [i]everyone[/i] because of the effects of awful lawsuits, like the ones Edwards got rich on. The C-section lawsuits are indefensible, and it is laughable to me that a guy who made millions while driving up the cost of important services like healthcare to the "poor" people he now pretends to care about is being defended by liberals. He still opposes caps to malpractice suits, making the costs of healthcare even more prohibitive for the average family. But guys like you buy it hook, line and sinker, because you either don't know anything about economics or have no principles.

  4. #4
    Hall Of Fame
    Charter JI Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    L.I. NY (where the Jets used to be from)
    Posts
    13,339
    Post Thanks / Like
    [quote][i]Originally posted by Tom The Nader Fan™[/i]@Jul 19 2004, 07:41 AM
    [b] Edwards' emotional plea worked. Jennifer Campbell's family won a record jury verdict of $6.5 million against the hospital where the girl was born -- a judgment reduced later to $2.75 million on appeal. Edwards also settled with Jennifer's obstetrician for $1.5 million.
    [/b][/quote]
    Is this the part where we blame Bush and the Republicans for the lack of affordable health care?

  5. #5
    JetsInsider.com Legend
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    37,738
    Post Thanks / Like
    Is the point of all this is that there are NO Republican/Conservative Lawyers, and certainly none who EVER made money on the kinds of things Edwards did? Or is the implication that Bush/Cheney would NEVER make money in ways some of us would find immoral or reprehensible?

  6. #6
    Hall Of Fame
    Charter JI Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    L.I. NY (where the Jets used to be from)
    Posts
    13,339
    Post Thanks / Like
    [quote][i]Originally posted by Warfish[/i]@Jul 19 2004, 09:53 AM
    [b] Is the point of all this is that there are NO Republican/Conservative Lawyers, and certainly none who EVER made money on the kinds of things Edwards did? Or is the implication that Bush/Cheney would NEVER make money in ways some of us would find immoral or reprehensible? [/b][/quote]
    Are those the only two choices or is there another?

    Maybe, besides being a 1 term senator with little experience in any relevant field, this trial atorney has made a fortune in the one field that has most influenced pricing medical insurance out of the reach of many of the 'regular guys' he and Kerry claim to be supporting.

    But you already knew that.

  7. #7
    Tom The Nader Fan™
    Guest
    [quote][i]Originally posted by Piper+Jul 19 2004, 09:11 AM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (Piper @ Jul 19 2004, 09:11 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin--Tom The Nader Fan™[/i]@Jul 19 2004, 07:41 AM
    [b] Edwards&#39; emotional plea worked. Jennifer Campbell&#39;s family won a record jury verdict of &#036;6.5 million against the hospital where the girl was born -- a judgment reduced later to &#036;2.75 million on appeal. Edwards also settled with Jennifer&#39;s obstetrician for &#036;1.5 million.
    [/b][/quote]
    Is this the part where we blame Bush and the Republicans for the lack of affordable health care? [/b][/quote]
    :lol:

  8. #8
    Hall Of Fame
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philly
    Posts
    38,782
    Post Thanks / Like
    remember when Bush declared global warming "junk science" and everyone here not only believed him but swore it was the truth... until his own committee admitted it was real... and now no one talks about it? <_<

    junk science is a term conservatives loves to throw around, meanwhile according the the science community no one in the first world deals with as much actual junk science as the President of the United States

    [url=http://www.ucsusa.org/ucs/about/page.cfm?pageID=769]http://www.ucsusa.org/ucs/about/page.cfm?pageID=769[/url]

    these men are some of the best and brightest

    let me guess they are all commies right

  9. #9
    Tom The Nader Fan™
    Guest
    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Jul 20 2004, 02:08 AM
    [b] remember when Bush declared global warming "junk science" and everyone here not only believed him but swore it was the truth... until his own committee admitted it was real... and now no one talks about it? <_<

    [/b][/quote]
    Uhhh... no. I don&#39;t remember that.

    Yet another straw dog argument from the People&#39;s Republic of Bitonti.

  10. #10
    Hall Of Fame
    Charter JI Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    L.I. NY (where the Jets used to be from)
    Posts
    13,339
    Post Thanks / Like
    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Jul 20 2004, 02:08 AM
    [b] remember when Bush declared global warming "junk science" and everyone here not only believed him but swore it was the truth... until his own committee admitted it was real... and now no one talks about it? <_<

    junk science is a term conservatives loves to throw around, meanwhile according the the science community no one in the first world deals with as much actual junk science as the President of the United States

    [url=http://www.ucsusa.org/ucs/about/page.cfm?pageID=769]http://www.ucsusa.org/ucs/about/page.cfm?pageID=769[/url]

    these men are some of the best and brightest

    let me guess they are all commies right [/b][/quote]
    Is this like when you accuse neocons of turning every Bush argument back on what Clinton used to do?

  11. #11
    Jets Insider VIP
    Charter JI Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    Naples FL
    Posts
    42,999
    Post Thanks / Like
    Bit..Before the Earth had Life on it wasn&#39;t the whole Planet a
    Boiling mess of Lava and Volcano&#39;s?? I wonder if that hurt the
    Ozone layer..Or is it just Cow Farts and Republican Oil Drilling?? :P

  12. #12
    Tom The Nader Fan™
    Guest
    [quote][i]Originally posted by savage69[/i]@Jul 20 2004, 08:45 AM
    [b] Bit..Before the Earth had Life on it wasn&#39;t the whole Planet a
    Boiling mess of Lava and Volcano&#39;s?? I wonder if that hurt the
    Ozone layer..Or is it just Cow Farts and Republican Oil Drilling?? :P [/b][/quote]
    Cow Farts and republican oil drilling caused the ice age, too.

  13. #13
    Hall Of Fame
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philly
    Posts
    38,782
    Post Thanks / Like
    my point is twofold

    1) Bush is notoriously lacking when it comes to respecting the scientific community (aw, what do they know)

    2) that most voters (GOP and Dem alike) wouldn&#39;t know the difference between real science and junk science if it stood up and bit them in the ass

  14. #14
    Hall Of Fame
    Charter JI Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    L.I. NY (where the Jets used to be from)
    Posts
    13,339
    Post Thanks / Like
    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Jul 20 2004, 11:19 AM
    [b] my point is twofold

    1) Bush is notoriously lacking when it comes to respecting the scientific community (aw, what do they know)

    2) that most voters (GOP and Dem alike) wouldn&#39;t know the difference between real science and junk science if it stood up and bit them in the ass [/b][/quote]
    That&#39;s sure easier than offering an opinion on the tread starter.

  15. #15
    All Pro
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    2,393
    Post Thanks / Like
    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Jul 20 2004, 11:19 AM
    [b] that most voters (GOP and Dem alike) wouldn&#39;t know the difference between real science and junk science if it stood up and bit them in the ass [/b][/quote]
    [img]http://www.freespeechradio.net/signspube.jpg[/img]

  16. #16
    Hall Of Fame
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    11,692
    Post Thanks / Like
    Global Warming isn&#39;t &#39;real.&#39; The only thing &#39;real&#39; about global warming is the fact that it is politically expedient for politicians to acknowledge it as real and talk in such terms. In terms of hard data and evidence, there is little in existence that justifies such nonsense about catastrophic "climate change" or humanity&#39;s role in it. It is a ploy to further along an agenda, nothing more. The Greenies have long used the Impending Catastrophy Theory to further their agendas. They try to scare people into compliance...sort of the exact thing they accuse Bush of doing with regards to the war on terror. Models are only as good as the numbers and assumptions that go into them.

    It&#39;s like the second-hand smoke nonsense...second-hand smoke doens&#39;t cause cancer or anything, and DDT is desparetly needed to fight malaria, but because some Greenies think it will kill birds, even if used perspicaciously, millions go without.

  17. #17
    Hall Of Fame
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philly
    Posts
    38,782
    Post Thanks / Like
    5ever if global warming isn&#39;t real then why did Bush&#39;s own committee say it was real?

    who is wrong here

    lets face the facts people - if the year were 1492, 5ever would be sitting here talking all pompous about how the world being round was "junk science" and the rest of you guys would be fixin to string that loudmouth know it all wop Galileo Bitonti up from a tree.

    with the Angry ignorance in this world it&#39;s a wonder my ball-busting tell it like it is, no bull****, bloodline made off the old continent at all

  18. #18
    Hall Of Fame
    Charter JI Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    L.I. NY (where the Jets used to be from)
    Posts
    13,339
    Post Thanks / Like
    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Jul 20 2004, 12:10 PM
    [b] with the Angry ignorance in this world it&#39;s a wonder my ball-busting tell it like it is, no bull****, bloodline made off the old continent at all [/b][/quote]
    You really need to work on your self-image :(

  19. #19
    Hall Of Fame
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    11,692
    Post Thanks / Like
    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Jul 20 2004, 12:10 PM
    [b] 5ever if global warming isn&#39;t real then why did Bush&#39;s own committee say it was real?

    who is wrong here

    lets face the facts people - if the year were 1492, 5ever would be sitting here talking all pompous about how the world being round was "junk science" and the rest of you guys would be fixin to string that loudmouth know it all wop Galileo Bitonti up from a tree.

    with the Angry ignorance in this world it&#39;s a wonder my ball-busting tell it like it is, no bull****, bloodline made off the old continent at all [/b][/quote]
    Bush&#39;s own committee said it was real for the reasons I&#39;ve outlined in my initial post about global warming. Bitonti - stop comparing yourself to Galileo, that is pretty darn arrogant.

    You hate everything and anything to do with the word "oil." Honestly - have much have you scrutinized the Global Warming Theory? Have you read anything by scientists who discredit it? Do you know the exact nature of all of the assumptions that are imbedded within the models used by the alarmists who predict dire consequences? Do you know the formulas and assumptions that even THOSE assumptions are based upon? Do you acknowledge that this planet has been around for so many millions of years that our available weather data is only such a shirt time as to be completely statistically irrelevant? We&#39;ve been able to track ans measure weather and climate patterns for less than a few hundred years. That&#39;s it. That is barely even a blip. We do not know if any fluctuation is simply normal or cyclical, or part of the every-changing and erratic movements of sunspots, or (in your view) due to automobiles.

    Scientists argue about tons of things, and many scientists are arrogant and have a considerable amount of their careers tied to their theories, and are reluctant to admit error. Also, the government is a huge, complex organization, so characterizing some report as "Bush&#39;s" is not accurate, since many, many legislators and committees exist from which these reports are comissioned. Many legislators have to cater to special interests, one of which is the greenies, and this they get scientists who are receptive to their desired ends.

    There is simply no way to declaratively state either way that global warming exists, and proving a negative is impossible. Thus, global warming gains a foothold, even though not a shred of evidence exists to justify it. (Don&#39;t bother posting some link with some "study" containing "predictions" that don&#39;t disclose the methodology of the assumptions within. - I&#39;ve seen most of them)

  20. #20
    Jets Insider VIP
    Charter JI Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    Naples FL
    Posts
    42,999
    Post Thanks / Like
    Well here&#39;s a 2 day old European Article&#33;&#33;




    The truth about global warming - it&#39;s the Sun that&#39;s to blame
    By Michael Leidig and Roya Nikkhah
    (Filed: 18/07/2004)


    Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research.



    A study by Swiss and German scientists suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes.

    Dr Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, who led the research, said: "The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.

    "The Sun is in a changed state. It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently - in the last 100 to 150 years."

    Dr Solanki said that the brighter Sun and higher levels of "greenhouse gases", such as carbon dioxide, both contributed to the change in the Earth&#39;s temperature but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.

    Average global temperatures have increased by about 0.2 deg Celsius over the past 20 years and are widely believed to be responsible for new extremes in weather patterns. After pressure from environmentalists, politicians agreed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, promising to limit greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012. Britain ratified the protocol in 2002 and said it would cut emissions by 12.5 per cent from 1990 levels.

    Globally, 1997, 1998 and 2002 were the hottest years since worldwide weather records were first collated in 1860.

    Most scientists agree that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels have contributed to the warming of the planet in the past few decades but have questioned whether a brighter Sun is also responsible for rising temperatures.

    To determine the Sun&#39;s role in global warming, Dr Solanki&#39;s research team measured magnetic zones on the Sun&#39;s surface known as sunspots, which are believed to intensify the Sun&#39;s energy output.

    The team studied sunspot data going back several hundred years. They found that a dearth of sunspots signalled a cold period - which could last up to 50 years - but that over the past century their numbers had increased as the Earth&#39;s climate grew steadily warmer. The scientists also compared data from ice samples collected during an expedition to Greenland in 1991. The most recent samples contained the lowest recorded levels of beryllium 10 for more than 1,000 years. Beryllium 10 is a particle created by cosmic rays that decreases in the Earth&#39;s atmosphere as the magnetic energy from the Sun increases. Scientists can currently trace beryllium 10 levels back 1,150 years.

    Dr Solanki does not know what is causing the Sun to burn brighter now or how long this cycle would last.

    He says that the increased solar brightness over the past 20 years has not been enough to cause the observed climate changes but believes that the impact of more intense sunshine on the ozone layer and on cloud cover could be affecting the climate more than the sunlight itself.

    Dr Bill Burrows, a climatologist and a member of the Royal Meteorological Society, welcomed Dr Solanki&#39;s research. "While the established view remains that the sun cannot be responsible for all the climate changes we have seen in the past 50 years or so, this study is certainly significant," he said.

    "It shows that there is enough happening on the solar front to merit further research. Perhaps we are devoting too many resources to correcting human effects on the climate without being sure that we are the major contributor."

    Dr David Viner, the senior research scientist at the University of East Anglia&#39;s climatic research unit, said the research showed that the sun did have an effect on global warming.

    He added, however, that the study also showed that over the past 20 years the number of sunspots had remained roughly constant, while the Earth&#39;s temperature had continued to increase.

    This suggested that over the past 20 years, human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation had begun to dominate "the natural factors involved in climate change", he said.

    Dr Gareth Jones, a climate researcher at the Met Office, said that Dr Solanki&#39;s findings were inconclusive because the study had not incorporated other potential climate change factors.

    "The Sun&#39;s radiance may well have an impact on climate change but it needs to be looked at in conjunction with other factors such as greenhouse gases, sulphate aerosols and volcano activity," he said. The research adds weight to the views of David Bellamy, the conservationist. "Global warming - at least the modern nightmare version - is a myth," he said. "I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world&#39;s politicians and policy-makers are not.

    "Instead, they have an unshakeable faith in what has, unfortunately, become one of the central credos of the environmental movement: humans burn fossil fuels, which release increased levels of carbon dioxide - the principal so-called greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to heat up. They say this is global warming: I say this is poppycock."

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Follow Us