Here is an outstanding interview given by Prof. Hans von Storch, one of Germany’s leading climate scientists, in an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt
(Germany’s equivalent to the Wall Street Journal) yesterday. Although a warmist, Professor Hans von Storch, much to his credit, has always kept an open ear and mind to serious climate sceptics. Here are some paraphrased excerpts of yesterday’s HB interview.HB: Are today’s hot and cold extreme events a sign of global warming?
HvS: It’s important to keep weather separated from climate. The media have certainly been focussing more on the weather. And unfortunately there are plenty of activists who like to connect heat waves and storms with climate change. And then these activists wonder why sceptics do the same when there’s a cold winter, using it as evidence against warming. It’s intellectually low. The fact of the matter is that it is trending warmer.
HB: Who recommends the scientists for participation in the IPCC?
HvS: In Germany it’s the Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Reactor Safety and the Ministry of Research and Science in Bonn. Here one can apply to participate, and this is what I’ve done. I offered to be a part of WG2. That’s where most of the errors occurred and I’d like to help out this time around to prevent such errors from happening again. My name has been sent, along with 80 others, to the IPCC in Switzerland.
HB: The IPCC has come under fire because it dramatised climate change. How can we prevent such errors and what should quality control look like?
HvS: We have to look very closely at the literature that is handed to us. We have to be very careful with grey literature. It has to meet the highest scientific standards. Under no circumstances can literature from interest groups like reinsurers, coal industry or environmental groups be accepted.
HB: And what about the WWF’s Amazon Rainforest report?
HvS: One cannot claim that this was a neutral scientific report. The IPCC made that mistake, and it cannot be blamed on the WWF, who have legitimate interests.
HB: Could there be a benefit in allowing studies from interest groups?
HvS: I would not agree to that. In WG2 it would not be necessary to include material from interest groups. There’s already enough scientific literature at hand.
HB: And what about critical opinions from the scientific community? In the wake of the hacked e-mails from the CRU, some scientists complained that their publications had been blocked.
HvS: Here we have to differentiate between 2 kinds of gate-keeping. In the case of the Climate Research Unit, it is alleged, or indeed it was attempted, to keep an article with a contrary opinion from being published. Thus it was possible to assure that some results would not flow into the IPCC report.
In the IPCC report itself, minority opinions also must be allowed to be shown. We have to determine just where there is consensus, and where there are contrary opinions. This has to be done scientifically, without any prejudice.
HB: A report for the political decision makers probably has to be summarised: But isn’t that walking on a tight rope between what is scientifically exact and what the politicians understand?
HvS: A summary by the scientists for the politicians is in my opinion, not necessary. The summary emphasis takes place at a later time when the decision makers wish to present the matter to their clientel. The politicians that I’ve been involved with know what climate research is about –and especially on questions of adaptation. Personally I’m quite impressed by their competence.
HB: Last fall after errors were found in the IPCC report and the disclosure of the CRU e-mails, climate science skidded off track and came under heavy fire.. What does this branch of science need to do in order to regain respect?
HsV: There are two strategies – and I’m afraid not much is happening for the most part. It is simply being claimed that evil media outlets and the fossil fuel industry are behind the unjust discrediting of the science. But this assertion simply is not sustainable. In the past, climate science attempted to work too much with catastrophe reports. But that bubble blew last fall. As a result, trust suffered immeasurably.
We have to take a critical view of what happened. Nothing ought to be swept under the rug. Some of the inquests – like in Great Britain – failed at this. They blew an opportunity to re-establish trust.
The second strategy us scientists have to consider is what role it is we wish to play. Are we supporters of a certain political process, or supporters of a certain brand of politics? I’m emphatically for the first, whereby we are the providers of special knowledge. We must not say that this is right, and that is wrong. This is not the competence of a climate scientist. We are merely experts in climate dynamics, and not specialists for competing political or ethical problems. Fundamentally a debate has to take place. That’s what climate scientists want, and that is what is expected from the public.
HB: Is there a danger that climate science falls on the wayside because the sceptics take up very popular slogans against the subject of anthropogenic climate change?
HsV: Many alarmists do the same– both sides don’t hold back much. We have to accept the challenges the sceptics present and step into the debate with them in order to win them over.
Many physicists, chemists, engineers or geologists have open questions about climate change which they view as unanswered. Here there is a considerable and legitimate potential at hand, which unfortunately is not addressed often enough. Instead, they sometimes get attacked and called sceptics, which only serves to aggravate them. It’s no way to build trust. We have to find a way back to a reasonable discussion.
HB: Do you have any hope that progress can be made with the next IPCC report with respect to climate protection, especially after the spectacular failure of Copenhagen?
HsV: I don’t expect that the next IPCC report will significantly improve the chances for a comprehensive climate protection program. The last report was already so emphatic that there is no way to top it. The concept that science tells politics what’s necessary has failed. We have to give up on the idea of making an agreement from top down for 150 countries, and that they will abide by it. Change has to come from the bottom.