Who pays the piper?

Late last month, without much fanfare, scientific titan CERN released new evidence that could dramatically alter the balance of the global warming debate. Potentially vindicating the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark, new CERN research from their CLOUD project demonstrates that cosmic rays provide a seed for clouds. As a result tiny changes in the earth's cloud cover could account for the earth's variations in temperature. Such a revelation throws into question whether anthropogenic global warming is actually happening, or whether cosmic rays and the sun are the dominant controllers of the earth's climate.

Such an important discovery should surely be big news. However CERN's Director General has attempted to play down the study and it's potential conclusions in order to avoid "the highly political arena of the climate change debate." So, instead of what should be a debate concerning the causes of global warming we are struck by an entirely different debate, the autonomy of scientists who receive government funding. CERN receives millions of euros in funding from it's member states, the top three being Germany, France and UK, a list which is ever growing as more countries clamour to join the well-respected establishment. However such government funding undermines the very credibility that makes CERN the scientific goliath it claims to be. Nigel Calder makes a similar point, arguing that:

"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 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."

The scientists behind the CLOUD experiment have been in a battle for over a decade to continue and publish the results of the project due to their state-funded position. Jasper Kirby, a CERN scientist, postulated back in 1998 that the cosmic ray theory would "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." This admittance of a hypothetical alternative to anthropogenic theories was apparently a step too far for global warming activists who pressured the Western governments that control CERN's funding to suspend the project. It is only after a decade of negotiation that the project was allowed to continue, and even now it's results are being stifled by a need to placate political influences. As a result last week's CLOUD paper perhaps reveals more about the distortion of science by government intervention than it highlights any real scientific breakthrough.