Science editor Mark Henderson has a story on the Times Online’s blog Eureka about what could be the largest representative action ever filed in the history of the world. The complaint, filed with the UN Human Rights Committee, seeks to save every inhabitant of the planet (and perhaps the entire solar system) from what could be imminent annihilation if CERN‘s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland creates micro-black holes when it begins to smash subatomic particles together at near light speed this month. The complaint was filed by a group calling itself ConCERNed International, who seeks to enjoin the project until CERN’s scientists can prove that there is no chance that the collider will pose a danger in the form a “mass production” of “microscopic black holes.” The UN Human Rights complaint follows an unsuccessful civil lawsuit last year filed in Federal Court in Hawaii attempting to enjoin operation of the collider.
For those about the run into the streets screaming in panic, the LHC has been the subject of a comprehensive safety study, and physicists agree that there is little danger of world destruction by black hole, strangelets, magnetic monopoles, or anything else. Henderson paraphrases Michio Kaku in saying
there is a chance that the LHC could produce a black hole, but only in the sense that there is a chance that it could produce fire-breathing dragons.
The prospects of success in the case are probably worse than the chances of either black holes or fire-breathing dragons. As far as I can tell, even assuming that creating a risk of global destruction by black hole is considered a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Committee does not appear to have authority to enter or enforce any kind of injunction that would shut down the LHC.
For now, the there is no true global forum for claims of global concern, even those of apocalyptic proportions.