Book Review: Our Explosive Sun by Pål Brekke

Posted: February 12, 2012 by tallbloke in Astronomy, Astrophysics, atmosphere, books, climate, Solar physics

My apologies to Pål Brekke for the long time it has taken me to review this book. The last seven weeks have been a blur of intense activity for me, dealing with the aftermath of the police raid on my home, finishing and launching the new website for the University of Leeds faculty of Education where I work, and handling the publication and discussion of the Unified Theory of Climate.

Our Explosive Sun: A Visual Feast of Our Source of Light and Life
Pål Brekke

Click the image to visit Amazon and open a preview of this book

This book is lavishly illustrated with many images and diagrams which make it a pleasure to read. The sections on star formation and the solar system are delivered as plain fact, consonant with the standard model, with no hint of the possibility that we may not know as much as we think we do about the processes in the deep past which brought about the formation of the planets and our Sun. There is a minor error which may have been corrected since the proof version I read which has a caption concerning Venus directly below an image of Mercury.

Sections on the aurorae seen at Earth’s northerly latitudes and the solar eruptions which cause the goemagnetic storms which generate them are nicely woven together to give a good general overview of the links between the Sun, space weather, and terrestrial effects. Christian Birkeland gets a mention, along with a couple of really interesting photos of the laboratory in which he created his model planet.

Discussion of the effect of the Sun on climate is introduced half way through the book where Pål says:

Earth has experienced large climate shifts in the past. Even during the last few thousand years, there have been large temperature variations. One thousand years ago, it was warmer on Greenland than today. Vikings settled down on the grassy hills and grew crops. This was during a period when the Sun was very active andsomewhat brighter. Later, as the Sun became more quiet and the temperature fell, the ice moved closer to the ocean and the fjord froze. The people had to abandon Greenland.

The last 100 years of human activity has also contributed to climate change due to land use changes, deforestation, and the emission of greenhouse gases. Today there is increasing concern about future climate change due to human activity. Human-driven climate change will work in addition to natural climate variability mainly caused by the Sun. If we want to understand human caused climate change, we also need better knowledge about natural climate variability. If we learn more about the Sun, we may be able to predict how it will vary in the future.

We know that variations in solar activity contribute to climate change. In particular, when we go far back in history, we find strong evidence that the Sun was an important driver for the climate. Thus, better knowledge about how the Sun varies is important.

Once again, the information is presented as plain fact, with no caveats regarding uncertainty about attribution. While readers here will be pleased to see the emphasis on the need to understand natural variability, some will feel that this synopsis still gives too much to the proponents of the unproven ‘enhanced greenhouse effect’. But we should not be too hard on Pål here, because he is making only a lightly formulated overview rather than investigating detailed arguments.

Following this there is a section on the atmosphere and how radiation is ‘trapped’ on it”s way back out of it, creating the ‘natural greenhouse effect’. No mention is made of the gas laws. Then we get some nice clear explanation of why the sky is blue and sunsets red, and the passage of the seasons and its effect on average temperature. The next sections are on human dependence on the Sun and how we utilise the Sun’s energy in various ways.

The sections on how to observe the Sun are a good guide to amateur observers and offer extra hints on safety and image enhancement. There is nothing about photography of the solar disc however. Of great interest is the following section on modern professional study of the Sun, aurorae and the atmosphere. Great photos of laser stations and other observatories enliven the interest of the book greatly and will be an inspiration to the young students the book is primarily aimed at.

The book is now available on iTunes too:

  1. Doug Proctor says:

    The Global Warming hysteria is based on a catastrophic feed-in effect on additional CO2 by water vapour, however the hysteria is supported by claimed current evidence of the CO2-warming in progress. Any and all contribution by natural causes to the last 50 years of warming bring the historical rise closer to the minimum proposed values of the C02 forcing. At which level it is neither powerful, catastrophic or distinguishable from hypothetical natural factors, including synergistic effects of minor cyclical features.

    Chaos theory indicates that small influences at the beginning can result in large, unexpected outcomes. This is based on the existence of powerful drivers in the presence of small input. It should be noted that the reverse is true: small changes in the processes, i.e. changes that can turn a powerful driver into an impotent one, though still chaotic in nature, and make take large inputs and generate small outcomes.

    CAGW is easily the Wizard of Oz: powerful in imagination only, but you can’t be sure until you look behind the curtain.

  2. tallbloke says:

    Someone who doesn’t post here has this to say about the book:

    Thanks for the above quote from Pål Brekke’s book, “Our Explosive Sun: A Visual Feast of Our Source of Light and Life.”

    The title and the quote are factually correct, and key missing information – Earth’s heat source is the same nuclear furnace that made our elements and spit them out five billion years (5 gyr) ago – was explained in the abstract of a paper in press, “Neutron repulsion.”

    “Earth is connected gravitationally, magnetically and electrically to its heat source – a neutron star that is obscured from view by waste products in the photosphere. Neutron repulsion is like the hot filament in an incandescent light bulb. Excited neutrons are emitted from the solar core and decay into hydrogen that glows in the photosphere like a frosted light bulb.” . . . (experimental data) . . .

    “Together these findings offer a framework for understanding how: a.) The Sun generates and releases neutrinos, energy and solar-wind hydrogen and helium; b.) An inhabitable planet formed and life evolved around an ordinary-looking star; c.) Continuous climate change – induced by cyclic changes in gravitational interactions of the Sun’s energetic core with planets – has favored survival by adaptation.”

  3. Joe's World says:


    The “Chaos Theory” is the lack of understanding the circulation system and the bad theories that have generated our current understanding of the planet with NO motion included.
    “Balance” is what society and science is trying to achieve in a system NEVER designed to be in balance. If you had the same exact energy counteracting, there would be no need for movement as both cancel each other out. If the balance is always slightly off, then you have motion.