Study shows CFCs, cosmic rays major culprits for global warming

Ozone at Antarctica - Image NASA

From the University of Waterloo press release.

WATERLOO, Ont. (Monday, Dec. 21, 2009) – Cosmic rays and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), both already implicated in depleting the Earth’s ozone layer, are also responsible for changes in the global climate, a University of Waterloo scientist reports in a new peer-reviewed paper.

In his paper, Qing-Bin Lu, a professor of physics and astronomy, shows how CFCs – compounds once widely used as refrigerants – and cosmic rays – energy particles originating in outer space – are mostly to blame for climate change, rather than carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. His paper, derived from observations of satellite, ground-based and balloon measurements as well as an innovative use of an established mechanism, was published online in the prestigious journal Physics Reports.

“My findings do not agree with the climate models that conventionally thought that greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, are the major culprits for the global warming seen in the late 20th century,” Lu said. “Instead, the observed data show that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays most likely caused both the Antarctic ozone hole and global warming. These findings are totally unexpected and striking, as I was focused on studying the mechanism for the formation of the ozone hole, rather than global warming.”

His conclusions are based on observations that from 1950 up to now, the climate in the Arctic and Antarctic atmospheres has been completely controlled by CFCs and cosmic rays, with no CO2 impact.

“Most remarkably, the total amount of CFCs, ozone-depleting molecules that are well-known greenhouse gases, has decreased around 2000,” Lu said. “Correspondingly, the global surface temperature has also dropped. In striking contrast, the CO2 level has kept rising since 1850 and now is at its largest growth rate.”

In his research, Lu discovers that while there was global warming from 1950 to 2000, there has been global cooling since 2002. The cooling trend will continue for the next 50 years, according to his new research observations.

As well, there is no solid evidence that the global warming from 1950 to 2000 was due to CO2. Instead, Lu notes, it was probably due to CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays. And from 1850 to 1950, the recorded CO2 level increased significantly because of the industrial revolution, while the global temperature kept nearly constant or only rose by about 0.1 C.

In previously published work, Lu demonstrated that an observed cyclic hole in the ozone layer provided proof of a new ozone depletion theory involving cosmic rays, which was developed by Lu and his former co-workers at Rutgers University and the Université de Sherbrooke. In the past, it was generally accepted for more than two decades that the Earth’s ozone layer is depleted due to the sun’s ultraviolet light-induced destruction of CFCs in the atmosphere.

The depletion theory says cosmic rays, rather than the sun’s UV light, play the dominant role in breaking down ozone-depleting molecules and then ozone. In his study, published in Physical Review Letters, Lu analyzed reliable cosmic ray and ozone data in the period of 1980-2007, which cover two full 11-year solar cycles.

In his latest paper, Lu further proves the cosmic-ray-driven ozone depletion theory by showing a large number of data from laboratory and satellite observations. One reviewer wrote: “These are very strong facts and it appears that they have largely been ignored in the past when modelling the Antarctic ozone loss.”

New observations of the effects of CFCs and cosmic rays on ozone loss and global warming/cooling could be important to the Earth and humans in the 21st century. “It certainly deserves close attention,” Lu wrote in his paper, entitled Cosmic-Ray-Driven Electron-Induced Reactions of Halogenated Molecules Adsorbed on Ice Surfaces: Implications for Atmospheric Ozone Depletion and Global Climate Change.

The paper, published Dec. 3 in Physics Reports, is available online at:

h/t to Russ Steele

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George E. Smith

Well it is pretty remarkable that someone can come out of the blue and simply claim that “it ain’t CO2”. Well I personally firmly believe it ain’t CO2, while I do understand the CO2 GHG trapping mechanisms and process.
My surprise is that Professor Lu can be so sure that his CFC/cosmic ray mechanism fully explains the observed patterns.
And of course one wonders how his cosmic ray effect fits in with Henrik Svensmark’s thesis.
Is it clouds or is it simply ozone holes.
Well time to do some intensive reading.

Henry Galt

Not a climate scientist. Move along.


Too bad this didnt appear a week before Copenhagen. Very interesting! Hopefully we can read more about this.


I don’t get why so many people discount cosmic rays as a cause of climate change. Those particles move so fast that one could race a photon across the galaxy and lose by a few millimeters, and have the mass of a particle but the momentum of a tennis ball after being hit by a professional player. I’m glad somebody’s come out and said that they are a primary source of climate change.


Absolutely fascinating. Wonder if this will go through the peer review process and others commenting on this theory.

George E. Smith

As to the NASA picture above; anyone with eyeballs like that would be blind anyway !


This won’t go over well. I heard Dr. Lu bought gasoline at an Exxon-Mobile station last year, I’m sure he’s on the take!


Except most of Antarctica cooled during that time, it didn’t warm there.

Gary Hladik

I guess “The Team” doesn’t have anybody on the Physics Reports editorial staff. 🙂
Being skeptical of man-made climate change in general (as opposed to Mann-made CC), I suspect Professor Lu overstates his case, but this is yet more evidence that the science is far from “settled”.


Looks like it was peer reviewed and accepted into publication. Very interesting stuff!


“Is it clouds or is it simply ozone holes.”
Maybe it isn’t either-or.
Here’s a little pure uninformed speculation. More cosmic rays are supposed to cause cooling because they cause low cloud formation. An ozone hole could let in more cosmic rays (?) , thus allowing more low cloud formation.
Does this make sense?

Dave F

Hmmmm. Looks like we were wrong.

Dave D

Obviously the COP Agreement (Suggestion) will now me amended with the US paying for it’s CO2 emmissions XXXX’d out and CFC emmissions penciled in, everything else applies!


Oops, I just realized my last post made no sense. He is saying ozone holes cause warming. My bad.

John Cooke

A physicist publishing in a reputable journal – I’d trust this before I trusted a lot of the other stuff around. Sounds really interesting and worth a read between making stuffing and mince pies!


I’m sceptical. But if Lu publishes his data and codes, he’ll certainly hold the moral high ground against the Climate Scientologists.

Martin Lewitt

Here is an earlier paper that is available online, which may lay some of the background for this more recent publication:

Calvin Ball

How are they able to write that many paragraphs, and not mention the proposed mechanism of heating?

Galen Haugh

George is right; with so many new theories flying at us, these are indeed exciting times. And while I haven’t read the paper yet (that’s next on my list), it does seem to fly in the face of Henrik’s theory (see The Cloud Mystery series on YouTube if you haven’t alread). Perhaps they are somewhat offsetting, or one is more dominanat than the other, or there’s even more mechanisms to consider. But certainly CO2 gets lost in the discussion, having been demonstrated as more of a benefit by far (check out the video on the “Plants Need CO2” Web site discusses the benefit to China), and only circumstantial evidence that it’s a causitive factor in global warming.
Maybe Al Gore can start trading CFC Credits instead of Carbon Credits; can there be that much money in it?


The science is settled.


Setting aside whether Lu is right or wrong, it will be interesting to see how those invested in CO2 C/T industry (RC, etc), will react to this. I bet they will say that (1) Lu is not a climate scientist, and (2) this paper was not peer reviewed by climate scientists. The question is — will such attacks stick notw that the press undersatnds how the Team has rigged the peer review process?


in his research, Lu discovers that while there was global warming from 1950 to 2000, there has been global cooling since 2002. The cooling trend will continue for the next 50 years, according to his new research observations.
so in 50 years time we are going to put out more cfcs again to stop the cooling trend?

I have said before that I am a ‘Discovery channel’ watching no nothing but.
The flux in the earths magnetic field image looked just like the Ozone hole in the north pole image.
It would stand to reason that the north and south poles/holes in the magnetic doughnut that surrounds earth would let in more cosmic/solar rays and thus deplete the ozone does it not?
Not being a scientist I don’t know the effect a magnetic field would have at also deflecting heat but I am sure the massive dynamo at the centre of our earth and its effect on climate has to be explored more.

This is all Wikipedia has to say about the journal:
“Physics Reports is scientific journal, Review section of Physics Letters, published by Elsevier since 1971.
Physics Reports publishes literature on specialised topics on physics, which are usually shorter than a monograph, oriented to physicists in all disciplines.”
Anyone know if it is taken seriously, widely read, etc?


Wouldn’t that just be the greatest irony of all, skewering both sides — Global Warming was indeed man-made. . . and already fixed and in the rear-view mirror.
I look forward to hearing the counter-attact from the Dioxidists. . . and whether or not the GCM boys intend to do any work modelling these findings.


George, a paper published earlier in the year (sorry, can’t find the reference), showed that cosmic rays are implicated in actually generating and regulating the ozone hole in the first place.
As I’ve said many times before, it’s the physicists who are doing real science in this area, not the surface record/treemometer stick fiddlers.


Has anyone ever actually detected/measured CFCs in the stratosphere?


Btw, is there somewhere one can see a table of estimated man-made C02 emissions by year from 1850-2008? It did strike me as a little facile to suggest that C02 emissions from 1850-1950 had little effect without taking into account relative yearly levels of emissions.


Could you please provide a little more in the way of scientific details rather than vague but rather overwhelming claims?
“The climate in the Arctic and Antarctic atmospheres has been completely controlled by CFCs and cosmic rays, with no CO2 impact.”
“As well, there is no solid evidence that the global warming from 1950 to 2000 was due to CO2. Instead, Lu notes, it was probably due to CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays.” — “No solid evidence”? Huh? “was probably” or is?
How does his work devalue the theories of greenhouse gases? How does his theory extend to cover the entire globe? This is a rather extreme claim… it needs something more than “he says” to back it up. This is an irresponsible post. Put some meat behind it.


Are cosmic rays so selective as to only interact with CFC and ozone and not with water molecules in the atmosphere?
If the cosmic rays destroy the CFCs, how can the CFCs destroy the ozone layer? In any case, the concentration of CFC’s in the atmosphere has decreased significantly since it was addressed 20 years ago with the Montreal Protocol.
So, if he is so sure about his hypothesis, why does he say that the temperature will start rising again around 2050 since the concentration of CFCs will still be decreasing and more CFC’s will get destroyed by cosmic rays? If in fact his theory is true, the effect will be minimal since the concentration of CFCs will be less and hopefully the sun will be active by then and will repulse more cosmic rays coming this way.


Is Professor Lu making his data available?
It is time scientists to encourage review and discussion of their work.
And, if this is found to be consistent what do you think the carbon greed corps will do?
They will fight like hell for the money.


Not cosmic rays! Didn’t that nut Svensmark try to pawn off the idea that cosmic rays are behind low level cloud formation??? He even managed to convince that traitor Kirkby at CERN to run an experiment partially based on the work of him and his denier team! Now we have some denier nut saying that cosmic rays are causing ozone holes, when we all know the science on that has already been settled!
Where’s the CRUtape Letter team when you really need them? Cosmic rays again! I love it. Svensmark will be vindicated in the end. I hope he is doing well.

Is there a way to read the paper without paying $32 for it?


Are his hypothesis based on the CRU temperature chart?


I recently read that the ozone hole was responsible for the anomalous cooling of Antarctica. Now this guy says that the ozone hole is responsible for warming.
No one knows what the heck is going on with climate.


Crap, and after tons of math trying to figure out my carbon footprint, now I have to figure out my cosmic ray footprint!! We still are to blame….right????


Ahhh. . . a sudden thought on the “counter-attack”.
Trenbeth’s “travesty” is now solved, and they just claim it is a minor fortuitious decrease that C02 buildup will still inevitably overwhelm.

I was under the impression that cosmic rays break up ozone just fine by themselves. Are “and CFCs” added to this paper just to not make a complete break away from current dogma?
Cosmic rays = 80%-something hydrogen (without electrons, so, protons) and 15%-ish helium (without electrons, so alpha particles).
ozone + hydrogen = water + oxygen


As the planet is still warming at around 0.2C per decade, it seems Mr Lu’s argument doesn’t hold water.

I’m sure William Connolly is already scheming on how to spin this on the Cosmic Ray pages Wikipedia pages


Well those naughty Medievals were so sloppy with their CFCs!!
No wonder there was a warm period!
Scientists should leave certainty to the priests.


But…but…but…. the science is settled???

Patrick M.

Let’s see if this guy is actually approaching the problem from a scientific angle or a statistical angle. I’d rather not hear another statistical “proof” that Global Warming is caused by X.


>> Ray (09:59:12) :
If the cosmic rays destroy the CFCs, how can the CFCs destroy the ozone layer? <<
It's not CFCs that destroy the ozone, it's chlorine. The CFC/ozone theory claims that chlorine gets into the stratosphere as a component of the CFC molecule. I believe chlorine is the 3rd most common element in the oceans. I wonder why oceanic chlorine can't also reach the stratosphere? It was an amazing coincidence that the CFC/ozone theory came about just as the patent on Freon-12 expired.


Yes I recently read a MSM report just prior to Copenhagen where one of the antartic resreachers said that there would be rapid warming after the ozone hole healed itself later on. Googling ozone layer healing warming gets you a long list including
Published by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, a coalition of experts that co-ordinates research in the region, the report has been published to give negotiators in Copenhagen the most up-to-date science available. ”Everything is connected – Antarctica may be a long way away but it is an important part of the Earth’s system,” said Colin Summerhayes, the executive director of SCAR.
But its a report not a peer reviewed published study and with a very timely release so motives could be questioned.


What about the role of Aerosols along with the CFCs. This blends well with the CLOUD theory and cosmic rays. Human produced aerosols along with cosmic rays could in fact produce more clouds.


I think that now that the gig is up for the CO2 scam – more and more scientists will try and prove that CO2 is not the cause.

Tom G(ologist)

The science is settled. Too late Dr. Lu. This train has left the station.
Nevermind all this physics stuff. We now have a whole bunch of hockey sticks and are ready to play with the world’s pucks – or is that bucks?

George E. Smith (09:32:28) :
And of course one wonders how his cosmic ray effect fits in with Henrik Svensmark’s thesis. Is it clouds or is it simply ozone holes.
According to the paper, it has nothing to do with Svensmark’s mechanism.

John Galt

It’s settled then. Lu needs a visit to Room 101 immediately!