Does climate change affect space?

Has NASA found that climate change is not man-made but is caused by "changes in the earth's orbit around the sun and changes in axial tilt"? At least that is stated in an article on the website Transinformation of September 21, which has been shared on Facebook more than 19,000 times to date.

As early as 1958, NASA had "observed" for the first time that changes in the Earth's orbit and the Earth's axial inclination were responsible for global warming, not humans, write the authors of the article. 1958 is the founding year of the authority. Nasa has known this for “more than 60 years”, but has decided to “spread the vertigo of man-made global warming and let it persist”.

An article about the so-called Milanković cycles, which NASA published in its online magazine in 2000, is cited as alleged evidence of this Earth Observatory published.

In the article by Transinformation is a literal translation of an article on the US website Natural News dated August 30, which, according to the Crowdtangle analysis tool, was shared more than 264,000 times on Facebook. Our fact check colleagues from Snopes have already checked this text. Your result: the allegations are false.

We have also researched the topic and obtained a statement from NASA.

What does NASA say about the claims in the article?

CORRECTIV contacted NASA about the article by Transinformation. Steve Cole, a spokesman for NASA, refers in his response to a recent report on natural climate factors of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. NASA participates in these reports and supports the results.

The report states (under point 2.3) that “important climatic factors in the industrial age” include both human activities and “to a lesser extent” those of natural origin. "The only significant natural climate factors in the industrial age are changes in solar radiation, volcanic eruptions and the El Niño Southern Oscillation." According to the report, there are other "drivers" of natural origin that work on longer time scales; including the Milanković cycles or "changes in atmospheric CO2 due to chemical weathering of the rock".

Cole also refers to a website on which NASA writes about the reasons for climate change. Among other things, it says: “In its fifth assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries around the world under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded that there was a probability of more than 95 percent indicates that human activities have warmed our planet in the last 50 years. "

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Nasa does not assume that “changes in the orbit” or the Milanković cycles are solely responsible for climate change and that humans have no influence on it. On the contrary, the space agency defines several reasons for climate change and names the cycles as one of them - but they are responsible for the change in the climate to a lesser extent than, for example, greenhouse gases emitted by humans.

What are the Milanković cycles?

In a study project of the Faculty of Geosciences at the University of Bremen in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, the Milanković cycles are "in addition to the rotation of the earth around itself (day and night) and the rotation around the sun (seasons)" as "three further cycles that influence the temperature and thereby change the climate" (PDF). It is about how inclined or straight the earth's axis is during its cycle around the sun, at what angle the earth's axis is inclined, and what shape the orbit has (more round or more elliptical).

These three cycles, when combined, cause solar radiation to hit the earth at different angles, resulting in changes in temperature on earth.

However, the Milanković cycles last 25,000 to 100,000 years, so they happen much more slowly than the current global warming, which is caused by CO2 emitted by humans (here an explanation in one of our fact checks). The researchers at the University of Bremen write: "Definitive climate forecasts cannot be based on these cycles alone." Solar radiation on the earth has decreased since 1980 - but the temperature has increased. And: "At the moment the earth's orbit is becoming more circular and is well on its way to an ice age."

We are currently living in an ice age. The fact checkers from Snopes refer to the results of a study published in Science Magazine in 2016 Nature has appeared. According to her, the current orbit arrangement could hold us for another 50,000 years in the current interglacial period - a warm period within an ice age. According to the researchers, CO2 emissions could postpone the next glacial period by 100,000 years. Snopes writes: "In other words: The rapid temperature rises currently observed on the human time scale cannot be explained by Milanković cycles."