Dr. Wolgang Thüne Slams Climate Policy: Efforts To Steer Climate Are “Utopian Pipe Dreams”

Der Spiegel cover of August 11, 1986

The concept of “climate catastrophe” in Germany was born 25 years ago  writes German meteorologist Dr. Wolfgang Thüne here at his blogsite and, as of today, except for the media bluster, there are still no signs of it. Thüne writes:

Do you remember January 22, 1986? On this day a press conference took place in Bonn at the Hotel am Tulpenfeld. The German Physikalische Gesellschaft e. V. (German Physical Society) invited journalists and presented them with the “Warning of a Pending Climate Catastrophe”. Written on the invitation: ‘The Energy Work Group of the German Physical Society urgently warns in the accompanying document of an imminent threatening climate catastrophe’.

Later that year in August, Der Spiegel came out with its infamous Climate Catastrophe issue whose front cover showed Germany’s beloved Cologne Cathedral landmark half-submerged in sea water. The warning on the cover read: “Ozone Hole – Ice Cap Melt – Greenhouse Effect: Scientists warn of  THE CLIMATE CATASTROPHE”.

In its story Der Spiegel wrote:

A consequence of not immediately reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be sea levels rising dramatically and the Cologne Cathedral will find itself in the middle of North Sea water. The Greens reacted spontaneously and produced a paper on September 28, 1986 called:  “Overhaul of the Industrial Society“.

The sudden doomsday predictions even prompted the government in 1987 to launch the so-called Enquete Commission with the task “Precautions for Protecting the Earth’s Atmosphere.” And so the panic in Germany had begun. The following year in the United States, James Hansen gave his infamous, sweaty testimony before Congress.

Today, 25 years after Tulpenfeld, and after 15 UN climate conferences with nothing to show, the climate catastrophe still remains elusive. In fact sea level rise has decelerated over the last 5 years, and the 0.5°C is far less than what was projected 25 years ago, and is likely due to natural causes (PDO). Indeed the accumulated cyclone energy reached a record low last year.

“Utopian pipe dreams”

Dr Wolfgang Thüne

Thüne explains in depth the origins and definitions of the term “climate”, calling concepts like climate catastrophe and climate protection absurd, and reminds us that “climate” is an abstract term, whose currently accepted definition hardly goes beyond a simplistic bureaucratic meaning, and is naively defined as the average of 30 years of weather.

Thüne slams attempts to limit global temperature rise to 2°C, or to steer weather so that it complies with the specifications of a “climate” that is derived by averaging an arbitrary 30-year period of weather. He calls such efforts “utopian pipe dreams”.

In view of our paleo-climatic knowledge that there have been numerous temperature fluctuations during the earth’s history, and picking a random 30-year period as the standard for the quality of the climate is an expression of unprecedented ignorance of nature.”

Even more absurd, says Thüne, is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s concept of implementing: “global climate justice“. Thüne adds:

No matter what is tried, man will never be able to stop the always ongoing process of weather-climate change.”


The German Physical Society, with its climate warning, has outed itself as an anti-scientific lobbyist for special interest groups.”

The sun, not CO2, drives the climate

Thüne clearly thinks the focus on CO2 is grossly misplaced, saying solar and orbital factors play the biggest role by far. Thüne writes (emphasis added):

Suppressing this knowledge and making threats with a climate catastrophe is unforgivable, and is to be tagged as scientifically criminal. The German Physical Society has to know that the climate that it uses as a threat and for spreading fear, does not exist. That climate is an abstract term, a feature or, as Al Gore correctly says, a phantom.

Thüne explains how many people do not even understand the solar constant, which is not constant at all. Radiation is not constant at 1368 watts/m².

In reality, because of the earth’s varying distance from the sun during its orbit, the ‘solar constant’ is between 1320 and 1416 W/m2. That means that at the start of January the earth receives 96 W/m2 more in solar radiation then it does at the beginning of July.”

Thüne reminds that the solar climate on the sun indeed impacts the climate on the earth.

It always comes down to the angle of the sun rays striking the solar energy-absorbing earth’s surface. Every physicist or natural scientist has to know that.

Unfortunately, many are paid handsomely to ignore that, and to focus on CO2.

Dr. Wolfgang Peter Thüne, retired, was a meteorologist at the German Weather Service (DWD), meteorologist for ZDF television from 1971-1986. Received a Dr. phil. summa cum laude in Sociology, Political Sciences and Geography in 1986, was a representative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation for Brazil in Rio de Janeiro from 1986-1990, and then served in the Mininistry of Environment.

30 responses to “Dr. Wolgang Thüne Slams Climate Policy: Efforts To Steer Climate Are “Utopian Pipe Dreams””

  1. grayman

    OK where as this guy 25 years ago and why has he not been out saying these things since? Honestly i am glad he is here now to say it, one more for the cool side. I suspect he will now be on the German Parliments new hit list for coming out of hte closet, so to speak. Pierre maybe he can do a guest post for you? Hope you guys across the pond are starting to warm up.

    1. Bernd Felsche

      You may not have noticed that Dr Thüne has been blogging on this for a year now. On the 13th of January last year he posted an article that he wrote originally in March 2004.
      It’d take the best part of a day to translate the whole thing and I don’t have the time.
      The final paragraphs says:

      Wer, wie von den „Klima-Experten“ verkündet, dem Irrglauben anhängt, es hätte ein geradezu paradiesisches vorindustrielles „Wetter- und Klimagleichgewicht“, so der Leipziger Meteorologieprofessor Gerd Tetzlaff, gegeben und dies wiederherstellen möchte, der muß konsequenterweise die ganze Industriegesellschaft vernichten und vor- oder postindustrielle Zustände anstreben. Haben diese Konsequenz die Klimapolitiker in ihrer Mehrheit bedacht? Oder sind sie nur irgendwelchen schönen Parolen aufgesessen, die ihnen die Kulturrevolutionäre und Gesellschaftsveränderer der „sechziger Jahre“ eingeflüstert haben? Der Abschied von dieser Utopie wird nicht leicht sein und vielen unter uns sehr schwer fallen. Aber er ist zwingend notwendig!

      which translates approximately to:

      Those who hang onto the mistaken belief propagated by “climate experts” that there was a paradise-like, pre-industrial weather and climate balance as per Leipzig Meteorology Professor Gerd Tetzlaff, and who wish to re-establish that, must necessarily destroy industrial society and strive for pre-industrial conditions. Have climate politicians considered these consequences? Or have ther simply swallowed the seductive slogans that were whispered to them by the counter-revolutionaries and social engineers of the “60’s”? Departure from this Utopia won’t be easy and it will be very hard for many among us. But it is imperative!

      In fact, Thüne has publically railed against the catastrophists and the nonsense of AGW since the late 1990’s. The German Wikipedia entry even has:

      Auftreten gegen „Treibhaus-Schwindel“
      Seit den späten 1990er Jahren tritt Thüne gegen den von ihm so bezeichneten „Treibhaus-Schwindel“ auf und bezeichnet den gesamten Treibhauseffekt als „physikalische Unmöglichkeit“ und „naturwissenschaftliches Märchen“, die Wissenschaft als „völlig korrumpiert“. Unterstützer des Kyoto-Protokolls, wie auch Gerhard Schröder und Jürgen Trittin, hätten „offensichtlich nicht gelernt kritisch zu denken und den eigenen Verstand zu benutzen“. Seine Bücher zum Thema erfuhren eine gewisse Rezeption in den Massenmedien.

      Quick translation:

      Stance against the “Greenhouse Swindle”
      Thüne has stood up against what he calls the “Greenhouse Swindle” since the late 1990’s and describes the Greenhouse Effect as “physically impossible” and “scientific fairy tales” and the (climate) science as “totally corrupted”. He says that supporters of the Kyoto Protocol such as Gerhard Schröder and Jürgen Trittin have “apparently not learnt to think critically and to use their own sense”. His books on the subject got some exposure in the mass media.

  2. DirkH

    AGW is only a tool for The Great Transformation.

    1. DirkH

      English main site:

      Be afraid, be very afraid. (No, not of rising waters.)

      1. Asim

        Thanks for the link!

  3. grayman

    Pierre, thanks and i do look forward to hearing more from him. Here in Austin Tx a hot bed of warmist, I can only laugh seeing and hearing them talk about AGW as they become enraged when not hearing agreement to thier meme, so i do not bother to engage them.

    1. Rob Honeycutt

      Grayman… I believe that happens on both sides of the debate. But when you engage with people sometimes they’re set back on their heels a bit and have to figure out how to communicate.

      That’s why I like coming to Pierre’s blog here. It’s a chance to engage and communicate.

      To be honest, there’s really nothing more boring than hanging around where everyone in the room is saying the same thing.

      1. DirkH

        The most “sciency” (as in, might be science; at least, has a pretty graph) argument i ever got from a warmist in real life was Hockey Stick v 2.0; the one where Mann used the Tiljander data the wrong way up.

        Most of the time they don’t have ANY data to back up their claims; just MSM blurbs so it’s really quite boring to talk to them. For instance, they wouldn’t even know that there are several global temperature products… How should they, the MSM never tells them.

        It’s not a real debate.

        1. Rob Honeycutt

          Dirk… Really? Have you been over to Skeptical Science? Every single article is backed up with from 3 to over a dozen citations of published science.

  4. Rob Honeycutt

    “In reality, because of the earth’s varying distance from the sun during its orbit, the ‘solar constant’ is between 1320 and 1416 W/m2. That means that at the start of January the earth receives 96 W/m2 more in solar radiation then it does at the beginning of July.”

    I can find nothing to support this claim. It contradicts a wide range of research and satellite readings of TSI.


    1. DirkH

      Ask Dr. Leif Svalgaard. He’s a regular on the solar threads at WUWT. He will confirm the numbers. Earth is closer to the sun during Northern Hemisphere winters.

      The wikipedia has it as well
      “The actual direct solar irradiance at the top of the atmosphere fluctuates by about 6.9% during a year (from 1.412 kW/m² in early January to 1.321 kW/m² in early July) due to the Earth’s varying distance from the Sun”
      (90% of that article are devoted to “debunking” claims that the sun has an influence on climate; but well, Brigade Harvester Boris and William M. Connolley wrote it.)

      1. DirkH

        The “kW/m^2” are verbatim from the wikipedia. Not my mistake.

        1. DirkH

          Oh. Sorry. They say 1.321 kw… so it’s correct. I overlooked the decimal point. Unfortunately, in Germany we have “.” and “,” swapped so we would write 1.432,00 where an American would write 1,432.00 … so i misinterpreted it; and the way the wikipedia writes it is correct.

          1. Rob Honeycutt

            Ah! Thanks Dirk… This makes sense now. From the same wiki article, very next paragraph:

            “The Earth receives a total amount of radiation determined by its cross section (π·RE²), but as it rotates this energy is distributed across the entire surface area (4·π·RE²). Hence the average incoming solar radiation, taking into account the angle at which the rays strike and that at any one moment half the planet does not receive any solar radiation, is one-fourth the solar constant (approximately 342 W/m²). At any given moment, the amount of solar radiation received at a location on the Earth’s surface depends on the state of the atmosphere and the location’s latitude.”

            That’s the same number that shows up in Trenberth’s papers. 342 W/mˆ2.

            So, what I’m getting here is that Thune is using his figures out of context.

          2. Bernd Felsche

            Rob, it’s not only the atmospheric conditions that determine the amount of heat received; there’s also the condition of the surface. And that very same also determined the radiative properties.

            Consider for example that the southern hemisphere’s (SH) surface has very much more water than land. During its summer, the hemisphere has significantly greater solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere than the winter; the other way around from the northern hemisphere (NH). Observe also that the SH’s temperatures haven’t exhibited significant “warming” over recent decades.

            There are a number of factors at play but the dominant ones are those tied in with the relative area of oceans. These are not just limited to the pure thermodynamics such as the excellent radiative emissivity of liquid water, but the nature of life in the oceans that is largely driven by photosynthesis and dissolved CO2 near the surface.

            As a thought experiment, consider how things would be if Earth’s orbit were such that the NH received peak solar radiation in its summer, being closest to the sun at the time, and most-distant in the NH winter. My estimate is that for the SH, it would mean a further moderation of seasons, but for the more-populated NH, harsher seasonal changes as it doesn’t have the volume of water to dampen transitions.

    2. Ed Caryl

      All the sites that report TSI “correct” for the orbital distance. If they didn’t, you couldn’t see the much smaller changes in the real solar output. This analogous to taking out tidal changes in sealevel charts.

      1. Ed Caryl

        Rob, look at page 3, the third paragraph of the paper you cite, for a description of the orbital correction.

        1. Rob Honeycutt

          Got it. Thanks Ed.

          1. grayman

            Rob that is why i come here also for good conversation and dialoge. I hate the hotblooded attacks that go on at so many others, IMO it makes them look more the fool than anything they say or throw at the ones that they are conversing with. We may disagree about the climate but good debate makes it all worth while thank you.

  5. Viv Evans

    Just a little footnote: Dr Thuene is a meteorologist, someone who deals or dealt with weather forecasting … just like Joe Bastardi, Piers Corbyn, Anthony Watts …

    Odd, that …


  6. Neal J. King

    Thüne is right about the variation in the intensity of sunlight beating down on the planet (incongruously named the “solar constant”), at least in concept (since I haven’t checked the numbers): Since the power output of the sun is fixed over the course of a year (neglecting the 11-year solar cycle for the time being), since the solar intensity will go as 1/r^2, a variation in distance will translate into a variation in intensity; the % variation in intensity will be close to 2 x the % variation in distance. There’s nothing particularly exciting about that point, it’s just a seasonal input that folds into all the other seasonal issues that need to be averaged over to arrive at a multi-year trend.

    The rest of what he says is the same old nonsense.

  7. Paul

    Dr Thüne is to be congratulated, this is a great read.

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