Hans von Storch On Media, Politics; Climate Science And Activists

Hans von Storch offers more interesting insights on skeptics, alarmists, the role of the media, politics, scientists etc. at his Klimazwiebel site, read here and here (in German).He answered quite a number questions as part of an “Expert Interview – Climate Change and Media”.  I picked out only some of the questions and his answers. There is quite a bit there.

Indeed Prof von Storch has plenty of criticisim for both sides (not surprisingly). In summary, Prof. von Storch advises the media, politics and scientists to stick more to their roles, and to stay away from one extreme or the other.

Q: How do you perceive public communication on anthropogenic climate change in Germany?
HvS:  The communication has improved considerably over the last year since ClimateGate, the IPCC blunders and the failure of COP-15.  The talk has become less dramatic, as well-known alarmists can longer be so sure with the attention of the public.

Q: In your view how should successful public communication of anthropogenic climate change be set-up?
HsV: Less positive is the tendency to moralise and to propagandise, like Germany should be a model for the rest of the world while countries like China and USA are to be demonized. The communication on one side should present the scientifically supported perspectives as factual supplementary conditions for decision-making, while on the other hand highlighting as political options the possibilities for making decisions by politics and society (i.e. decided by values).

Q: What has to improve with the public communication of anthropogenic climate change and what has to happen so that it gets better?
HvS: More openness to questions and skepticism; more skepticism with respect to the alarmists (i.e. the ones who have the more interesting “stories” for the media and politics); more resistance to attempts at using single events as proof that supports far-reaching statements (like on the irrelevance of the man-made greenhouse effect) on climate dynamics; caution in the argumentative use of the latest scientific findings (much in Nature and Science later turns out to be in need of revision); evaluating scientific results from the methodical points of view, and less from the point of view of political application.

Q: How do you assess the current situation in climate research?
HsV: The situation in climate research as much improved over the last year– to the extent that the discussion is more open. The influence of political circles and cartels has decreased some.

Q: What’s going well, and where are there problems?
HsV: Climate science finds itself in a post-normal phase where the mixture of politics and science is mutually beneficial to both. That doesn’t mean that the scientific process itself is damaged, but there is a need for a discussion in public on what role science should play.

Q: What must be improved and what must happen in order for things to get better?
HsV: The practice observed up to now of  “stealth advocate scientists“, i.e. of scientists who, without saying it, put their science in service of a certain political matter, needs to be stopped.

Q: What trends in the media in Germany with respect to communication on global climate change do you see?
HvS: Since about one year, the reporting has gotten more critical and open.

Q: What’s the deal with the interest of the media? Could you give us a current example?
HsV: The interest by the media was very considerable for a period of about 2 months after the events surrounding COP-15, ClimateGate and the IPCC revelations, but then faded. Alarmist reports have become somewhat less lately, also during COP-16 in Cancun. Obviously there seems to be an interest in better researched background reports.

Q: Over the last years, what impact have the increased number of skeptics had on the public communication of anthropogenic climate change?
I don’t believe the number of skeptics has gone up; more are just admitting it. I think there have always been latent reservations also among other professors from physics, geology and other areas. These reservations are now being more explicitly expressed. Many of these people are so-called “skeptics“. They are not oil-industry seduced hacks.

Q: In your opinion how does the future constellation between, climate science, climate politics and the media appear?
HsV: Hopefully in such a way that all three of these players start accepting more and more their own roles and functions, particularly I hope the media find their way back to accompanying science and politics more critically also in the climate field.

12 responses to “Hans von Storch On Media, Politics; Climate Science And Activists”

  1. ArndB

    HvS about a ‘critical view’:
    “Roger A Pielke … he voices rather critical views, and likely not everybody will like his assertions. … But being a Fellow of both the ….(AMS) and (AGU…..he is undoubtedly a legitimate participant in the discussion among scientific experts. “ At. http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/2010/09/interview-with-roger-pielke-sr.html, Posted 05 Sept 2010.

  2. DirkH

    To satisfy the environmentally-concerned voters, governments of the developed world start channeling money and bureaucrats into the Biodiversity bandwagon. This indicates that they see no chance of convincing their populations of AGW. The production of bogus science has begun, we will soon see the first calls to reduce CO2 emissions and put a price on them to prevent ocean acidification.
    Same as before, but warming is no longer a believable excuse. Climate science will vanish from the headlines and might even clean up its act to finally become a science (it isn’t one now).

    Richard Black has the details:

    He points out that they shape the new bureaucracy after the IPCC’s example but want to learn from the IPCC’s mistakes. So, better camouflage next time.

  3. DirkH

    Well, what can one say to von Storch’s critique? He wants the media, the sceptics and the alarmists to avoid hyperbole. Good luck with that!

    I think he’s an honest scientist. He just chose a field where he’s nearly alone amongst scumbags. His decision.

  4. R. de Haan

    He’s a “luke warm warmist”. They are the worst.
    They disqualify both sides of the isle for their own glory.
    The “EU precautionary Principle” does the rest.

    1. ArndB

      HvS says that his profession is: Climate statistician (Klimastatistiker) see at: http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/2010/07/in-der-presse-klimaforschung-und-die.htm

      On 09 March HvS wrote: http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/2010/03/cold-winter-2010.html
      “No, P. Gosselin,
      climate is the statistics (frequency distributions, cross-correlations, EOFs, spectra etc.) of weather (in a somewhat general sense), climate change is thus a change of these statistics. While it can not be excluded that some new phenomena may show up, first of all we keep “our weather”, but the frequency (and possibly intensity) of events is changing.
      Thus, there will be sunshine, rainfall, storms, dry days, frost and snow in future, ENSOs, positive and negative NAOs. More warm days, less cold days, less cold winters, more hot summers – but not: no cold winters, only hot summers.”

      ____P Gosselin said… What do you mean by “events”? Weather? Cycles?
      ____Hans von Storch said… P. Gosselin – yes, I mean “weather”, as we are speaking about a change in the statistics of weather. When we run a climate model, we get a sequence of weather (if you wish: events), sampled every 10 minutes or whatever the time step of the model is…..

      From HvS no concrete answer. He does not say what WEATHER is. There is no statistic of weather, but only e.g. on temperatures, clouds, precipitation, wind (and more than several dozen other weather indicators), in extreme numbers (by location, time period etc), which remain statistics. More at: http://www.whatisclimate.com/,
      Wishing a fine Holiday Season and a Happy 2011,
      Arnd Bernaerts