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.