Climate Change: News and Comments
CERN chief forbids “interpretation” of CLOUD results
Although still very busy with other work, I keep looking out for results from the CLOUD experiment at CERN in Geneva, which is testing Henrik Svensmark’s hypothesis that cosmic rays help to make clouds. They are due for publication this summer. All I have just now is a startling remark by Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN, in an interview by Welt Online a few days ago.
Here is a tidied-up Google Translate version of the relevant exchange.
Welt Online: The results of the so-called CLOUD experiment, exploring the formation of clouds, are awaited with great excitement. Could these results still be important for understanding global climate change?
Heuer: This is indeed a matter of understanding better the formation of clouds. In nature there are many parameters at work – including temperature, humidity, impurities and also cosmic radiation. In the experiment, CLOUD investigates the influence of cosmic rays on cloud formation, using radiation [meaning particles] coming from the accelerator. And in an experimental chamber one can study, under controlled conditions, how the formation of droplets depends on the radiation and particulate matter. The results will be published shortly. I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them. That would 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.
Four quick inferences:
1) The results must be favourable for Svensmark or there would be no such anxiety about them.
2) 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.
3) The once illustrious CERN laboratory ceases to be a truly scientific institute when its Director General forbids its physicists and visiting experimenters to draw the obvious scientific conclusions from their results.
4) The resulting publication may be rather boring.
The interview with Welt Online (in German) is here:
For earlier posts on this blog about “waiting for CERN” see:
UPDATE 23 July: see this Higgs story from the Institute of Physics. http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/46636
Yes, as we always knew, everyone is free to say what particle physics results at CERN seem to mean, even when they’re far from conclusive. If the Director General’s edict about CLOUD results were followed in this case, they’d have to say, “We must make clear that the Higgs boson is only one of many possible particles in the Universe so please don’t take these indications seriously.”