In a nutshell:
Science is about finding the truth, no matter what the truth is.
Is that really so?
Seems like the broad public is not always aware of the extent to which political and monetary issues affect the chances of scientific research to take place and to reach public cognizance. ,
Photo source: The Cloud Mystery Gallery
In a fashionable delay of about a year, "The Cloud Mystery", starring the physicists Nir Shaviv (no family relation) and Henrik Svensmark, was broadcasted in Israel. Not that the timing matters much: I'm pretty sure most of the readers, no matter where, have not heard about the film, its makers, and most of all – its thesis.
Nothing surprising about that, is there? How many scientific theses is the broad public aware of? Not many; mainly those that may have some specific bearing on the average person's immediate life. But lo: Shaviv & Svensmark's thesis does have a bearing on our immediate lives!
a. Are Humans to be Blamed for the Global Warming?
Think of the most immediate problem the human race, and our planet in general, is facing. Global warming seems like a very plausible candidate for this issue. Doesn't it? No, it doesn't, says a fairly recent theory, developed by Shaviv, Svensmark, geologist Jan Veizer and just a small bunch of other scientists. "Cosmoclimatology is the name given by Svensmark to the new kind of climate science featured in 'The Cloud Mystery'", as stated in The Cloud Mystery webpage. I shall call this theory of cosmoclimatology CC for short. CC challenges the widely accepted assumptions about the considerable human part in causing global warming. It presents interesting evidence supporting the claim that solar activity and galactic motions affect our climate and bring about a global warming – which will subside without real damage to Earth.
What does it all mean?
It means that humans, according to CC, are not to be blamed for the global warming; their activity has but a minuscule, insignificant effect on Earth's temperature. The increase in Earth's temperature is a natural outcome of cosmic rays, and what's more important: this process is cyclic. The Earth, according to CC, will cool again, long before the warming may become a problem. It has all happened before, explaining the ice ages of our planet.
b. Who governs science?
Seems like we may all take a sigh of relief: icebergs are not about to melt, oceans are not about to flood – we're saved! So why haven't we heard about any of it?
One possible answer is: CC scientists are wrong. The scientific world refuses to accept their findings because they are not well based.
Here is where politics and money enter the picture. I, for one, have not even a clue as for how to scientifically judge CC as right or wrong. Yet, something tells me it deserves my attention.
Martin Durkin, creator of "The Great Global Warming Swindle" (2007), pointed out that scientists depend on research funds. Shaviv states, in a recent interview (in Hebrew, sorry), that the U.S. government alone has spent in the past few years almost two billion dollars on climate research. There are clearly people and organizations that are making a lot of money out of this potential threat. Political gain is obvious here, too: what can be easier for a politician than to ride the environmental wave? The same goes even for commercial companies: almost any respectable company nowadays is advertizing its being "friendly" to the environment. Usually this is not even true, but great for increasing sales.
Many people are making money or gaining political power by joining and encouraging the general tendency of worrying about the global warming. Of course, this alone does not mean that global warming is not a genuine issue that should worry us. However, it does mean that global warming is an issue in need of a very careful scrutinization, that would make sure it is not just being cynically used by interest-driven parties.
For the sake of fairness, we should also consider whether CC scientists are not driven by their own interests. I think the answer to this question is fairly easy: we may suppose that these scientists are gaining some attention simply by being bold and innovative (even if they're wrong). However, the academic world is so built that this kind of attention is more harmful than it is useful. Stated simply: a scientist with no monetary support and academic recognition is no scientist. My conclusion, therefore, is that whether CC is correct or not, it is definitely worth attention, recognition, and further research. ,