Planet Gore

Don’t Let Evidence CLOUD the Issue

Rejoice and let joy be unconfined, for the results are in. As noted on National Review Online a couple of years ago, Swiss physics super-laboratory CERN has been conducting a major study into the link between cosmic rays and climate change. In recent days, the CLOUD (“Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets”) experiment has wrapped up, and, according to The Register, we now know that:

The chief of the world’s leading physics lab at CERN in Geneva has prohibited scientists from drawing conclusions from a major experiment. . . .

CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer told Welt Online that the scientists should refrain from drawing conclusions from the latest experiment.

“I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them,” reports veteran science editor Nigel Calder on his blog. Why?

We now know nothing more than we did before.

It would have been reasonable, given the immense power of the church, had Galileo just shut up back in 1610 and kept his ‘consensus-shattering’ findings quietly to himself. But he did not, and, in 1633, was found “vehemently suspect of heresy.” A a result, one of the great minds in history was required to ”abjure, curse, and detest” his discovery. All very well, except for a small problem: He was right, something the church did not entirely accept until 1820, over two hundred years since the original Sidereus Nuncius was published. In our enlightened age, we are thankfully beyond the point at which scientific results are censored because they fail to meet with pre-determined outcomes or an established consensus. Right?

Maybe not. A theory proposed by Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark — that solar variations affect the flow of cosmic-ray particles into our upper atmosphere, which in turn affect our climate by influencing cloud formation — is currently not accepted by the IPCC because the data is, admittedly, inconclusive. To test Svensmark’s theory, we’d need a series of major studies on how cosmic rays affect cloud formation — like, for example, the one just completed at CERN in Switzerland. 

It is possible, as Nigel Calder has observed, that CERN’s results are simply too “boring” to interpret (although that would still be a poor excuse; research data is not typically readied for Broadway), but there is something disturbing about the reason given by CERN Director Rolf-Dieter Heuer for the shelving. He argues that to interpret the data would be to

go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.

So? Why does that matter one whit? Science is science. No one would seriously have suggested that the discovery of plate tectonics should have been kept quiet because it interfered with the practice of human sacrifice to appease the earth-shaking gods. And it is, of course, fine for previous data to be employed in support of the “highly political arena.” As Calder notes:

CERN has joined a long line of lesser institutions obliged to remain politically correct about the man-made global warming hypothesis. It’s OK to enter “the highly political arena of the climate change debate” provided your results endorse man-made warming, but not if they support Svensmark’s heresy that the Sun alters the climate by influencing the cosmic ray influx and cloud formation..

The science is settled. Long live the science.

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