Wednesday, September 7, 2011

CLOUDs in the Cloud Chamber

The Wall Street Journal's reporter Anne Jolis puts it so innocently.  The physicist folks at CERN finally got around to testing the theory of Henrik Svensmark, that cosmic rays (charged particles entering the earth's atmosphere) "seed" clouds by creating cloud pre-nuclei as they speed through the atmosphere.
At the Franco-Swiss home of the world's most powerful particle accelerator, scientists have been shooting simulated cosmic rays into a cloud chamber to isolate and measure their contribution to cloud formation.
Do tell.  So, after half a century of particle accelerator chappies using cloud chambers to track high- energy charged particles we have to test whether charged particles entering the atmosphere leave tracks of visible moisture?  You mean charged particles out in the atmosphere behave just like they do in cloud chambers?  Golly, those physicists are smart.

CERN has notoriously taken over a decade to run this experiment.  You can understand why.  Confirmation of Svensmark's hypothesis means that climate is driven in large part by the solar cycle.  When there are few sunspots, we know, more cosmic rays penetrate to the atmosphere.  So if cosmic rays seed cloud formation and clouds reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth, why, maybe the Little Ice Age, coinciding with a major solar minimum, was caused by excessive cloud formation from cosmic rays.  Better soft-pedal that one.  We government-funded physicists wouldn't want to tread on the gravy train of our government-funded climate scientist friends.

It looks like the whole climate-change hysteria is reaching the end game.  That's why the climate scientists reacted hysterically to the recent Spencer-Braswell article on cloud feedback.  Just as well, really.  We could use the money to repair the government's balance sheet.

I wonder what the liberals and the environmentalists will come up with next.

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