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Gerald Warner: Inconvenient CLOUD Rains On The Global Warming Parade

CERN (Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire) is the ultimate iconic institution of 21st-century science, the Vatican of the religion of physics and materialism. Its white-coated priesthood commands immense deference from the faithful.

As befits so authoritative a body, it has shown a proper disdain for the craven caution that has sometimes sought to restrain its tampering with unknown forces, as when it shrugged off criticism and deployed the Large Hadron Collider to re-create conditions a fraction of a second after the putative Big Bang, by engineering particle collisions. CERN haughtily rejected the “precautionary principle”. Now it has gone further, in a different context, and potentially discredited another application of the precautionary principle – the great carbonphobia based on “man-made” global warming.

CERN may have failed to glimpse the elusive Higgs boson, but it has done something of greater immediate service to humanity by furnishing the first really serious laboratory-based challenge to the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) scam. The bland announcement from Geneva, timed to coincide with the publication of the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets) experiment’s early results in the journal Nature on 25 August, was headed: “CERN’s CLOUD experiment provides unprecedented insight into cloud formation.” Jasper Kirkby, spokesman for the CLOUD team, kept his remarks technical and uncontroversial.

The reason the boffins are not dancing in the streets of Geneva is that they know they are dealing with material as explosive politically as a particle collision. The implications of their findings for “man-made” climate change and carbon hysteria were foreseen well in advance. Back in 1998, presumably suffering from the delusion that scientific investigation was free and unfettered, Kirkby naively predicted that the sun and cosmic rays “will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century”. After this ill-advised outburst of honesty, Kirkby saw his funding evaporate, otherwise this experiment would have been conducted much earlier.

What gives the climate industry the heebie-jeebies is the fact that Kirkby’s experiments complement those of Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark, who has long maintained that cosmic rays provide a seed for clouds and thus contribute to terrestrial temperature. You might think that CERN, bloated on billions of euros from taxpayers and having failed to put the Higgs boson on the world’s front pages, would be relieved that one of its teams is beginning to get a result. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The last thing an institution with its mouth on the public teat on so epic a scale needs is discoveries that threaten the ability of governments to impose trillions of pounds of “green taxes” on their subjects.

Back in July, CERN’s director general, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, was already engaging in pre-emptive damage limitation. He was quoted as telling the German publication Welt Online in an interview: “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.” Right on. That is a longstanding scientific principle: achieve research results, but do not, under any circumstances, presume to interpret them. Especially if the interpretation could start an irresistible process of blowing the whole global warming fraud out of the water, making carbon credits as sexy as Confederate war bonds and condemning Al Gore to eke out his existence as a mere multi-millionaire rather than billionaire.

The signs are that CLOUD, as it progresses, will vindicate Svensmark. For the warmist nomenklatura this is their worst nightmare. It is a highly sophisticated experiment involving firing particle beams from CERN’s Proton Synchrotron accelerator into a gas-filled chamber, which they can hardly sneer down. It outranks the capers of the software masseurs and those who “hid the decline” at the University of East Anglia, let alone the “hockey stick” farce. So the warmists are trying to pretend it proves nothing adverse, while expressing admiration of techniques employed.

That can only be a temporary holding operation as experiments continue. There is now every likelihood that continuing revelations will cause Gore to emit some outdoor droplets of his own, unless results take a wholly unexpected course. This is potentially seismic for the climate lobby and complicit governments. Climategate demonstrated the bad faith of the AGW campaigners, which was half the battle. If a contrary theory of what does cause climate change is scientifically demonstrated, that further brick out of the wall would bring down the whole house of cards. We must hope that happens before governments and the United Nations drive the world much closer to bankruptcy in their slavish adherence to climate superstition.

Scotland on Sunday, 4 September 2011

Editor’s note: Not so fast, Gerald – see in particular David Whitehouse’s warning: Cloudy Science Reporting