Germany’s version of the EPA, the Umweltbundesamt (UBA) unleashed a wave of outrage with the publication of a 123-page pamphlet dubbed: “And indeed it continues to warm – What’s behind the climate science debate” (background here).
The government pamphlet defames and blacklists US and German climate skeptic scientists and journalists.
Among those targeted is Professor Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, co-author of the the German skeptic book, Die kalte Sonne. German daily Die Welt here and Die kalte Sonne here publish his open letter. Here it is in English with permission (short version).
President of the Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environment Agency)
Herrn Jochen Flasbarth
06813 Dessau-Roßlau Germany
Ref.: False portrayal in your pamphlet: “And indeed it continues to warm”
Dear Mr. President,
At a time when 17 climate scientists, who are very close to the IPCC (Otto et.al., Nature Geoscience, 19 May 2013), surprised the public with a startling report showing that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is 50% lower than what had been assumed, thus telling us that all previous prognoses of anthropogenic climate warming are in need of correction, your agency the German Umweltbundesamt (UBA) released a 123-page publication titled “And indeed it continues to warm”. The brochure swears by the IPCC prognoses and it also deals harshly with people who dispute the science surrounding the temperature development we have seen so far this century by using false assertions, omissions and defamation in an intolerable manner. For a federal authority, which belongs to the Federal Ministry of Environment, this is completely unacceptable.
Obstruction of freedom of expression
Before I bring up the major flaws in your pamphlet, I would like to ask: Whatever compelled you to deny journalists their right to free expression and scientists their right to critically scrutinize scientific findings?
As far as I can tell, contrary to what your pamphlet asserts, not a single “climate change skeptic” named in your brochure disputes the warming trend of the earth by greenhouse gases. In the scientific discussion, it is all about attribution, speed, and the extent of climate change, and the necessary measures needed for prevention or adaptation.
I am personally concerned. In the section “Climate Skeptics in Germany” where you highlight in yellow, brand, and pillory the names of journalists, organizations – and the scientists Vahrenholt and Lüning – the method you use is clear: Critics are portrayed as industry henchmen. Regarding my curriculum vitae, you write that I was the chairman of German Shell and have been the manager of power company RWE since 2001. The latter is false. In 2001 I founded the Repower wind energy corporation, made it to the leader in the sector, and was CEO until 2008. Why did you falsify my biography? Did it better fit the image of the villain you wanted to create?
In 2008 I was named Managing Director of the renewable energy company RWE Innogy, which I played a part in founding. Year after year it was the largest investor in the business. You also failed to mention that my primary duty at Shell was to develop renewable energies for the company. The construction of the first solar factory in Germany occurred while I was on the Board. You also fail to mention, because it does not fit the picture, that from 1976 to 1981 I was a manager at the UBA itself, the very agency that is now mocking me.
That you did not mention my term as managing director of RWE Innogy and my current function as the Charirman of the Deutschen Wildtier Stiftung (German Wildlife Foundation) also tells us that the pamphlet has one sole aim: to defame a critic.
You did not handle my Die kalte Sonne co-author Dr. Sebastian Lüning any better. As an assistant professor of geology and paleontology, he had been a peer reviewer for geo-scientific journals for years. He had not been working for RWE DEA for quite some time. What is your idea for scientific debate when you presume that we “are not real climate scientists” and thus not able to examine the various climate models in depth?
I would truly like to know which expert scientists wrote this pamphlet, where Stefan Rahmstorf is cited as a source 12 times. Can you exclude before the public that Mr. Rahmstorf or one of his colleagues played a part in preparing this pamphlet? It seems likely, because when one adds up the projects the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have been commissioned to do by the UBA, we see it comes out to approximately 8 million euros (read here). In addition there are various products that employees of the PIK participated in. Example here.
Whenever one falsifies personal data of this kind, as is the case in your pamphlet, then one has to expect omissions, half-truths and inaccuracies throughout. On this matter I would like to point a few items.
Few scientists deny warming has stopped
On page 8 the pamphlet explains that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) uses 30 years as the time period for studying climate. Thus from that it is concluded that a series of cool years in a decade doesn’t mean the climate is cooling. This is only the case “when the cooling extends over several decades”. That is false. In climate science it is undisputed that the significance of a warming or non-warming period is measured to be about 17 years (Santer et al., Journal of Geophys. Res. 2011). Up to now it has been 15 years since the temperature has stopped rising, even as enormous amounts of CO2 are emitted year after year. Between 2000 and 2010 about 100 billion tons were emitted, which is one quarter of all emissions since 1750. This has to tell us something. Indeed there has to be a force out there that is counteracting the climate gas CO2 and its warming capability of 1.1°C for each doubling of CO2 concentration. But you refuse to consider that possibility. On page 54 the pamphlet states: “From the temperature development since 1998, some conclude that global warming has stopped since this time. However this is incorrect for the following reasons: […] The Hadcrut dataset in Figure 2 shows a continuing global warming for more than 30 years. That is a long-term warming trend. A long-term stagnation of global warming on the other hand is not detectable.” Yet IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri and James Hansen (formerly at NASA) think differently, and do recognize the missing temperature increase. Only very few scientists refuse to recognize this stop in warming, as Stefan Rahmstorf does. This outlier opinion obviously has been accepted by the UBA.
UBA refuses to acknowledge natural factors
The UBA is obviously unaware of the fact that the warming of the 20th century occurred cyclically. The warming from 1910 to 1940 was followed by a cooling until 1977. Then another similar period of warming occurred from 1977 to 1998. In our book “Die kalte Sonne” and at our blog (here and here) we point out that the oceanic cycles were not taken into account by the climate models and the IPCC reports. When these well-known powerful cycles are taken into account, then the warming due to CO2 from 1977 to 1988 is only 50% of what is claimed.
What is even stranger is that page 110 of your report falsely quotes and distorts the content of our book: “Both authors […] of course make natural causes such as fluctuating solar activity responsible for the global warming of the last years”. Just reading the inside jacket of our book would have sufficed to learn that ocean cycles and the sun have played a much greater role in the history of our climate than what was previously thought. It is widely known by the public that the oceanic decadal oscillations generated a large part of the 1977 – 1998 warming. This is a duty that would have been a credit to the government UBA according to its founding Act.
UBA bans rolling back CO2 climate sensitivity
Since then there have been numerous scientific findings that confirm this. Not least, this earlier under-estimation of the impacts of oceanic decadal oscillations has resulted in numerous authors revising CO2 climate sensitivity downward in countless peer-reviewed articles, and now claim it is only half as much as what was previously thought. Why is this not mentioned in the UBA pamphlet?
Instead, the German Federal Office of Environment (UBA) pamphlet on page 28 cites a study from the year 2000! (Grieser et al.): “About two thirds of the global warming since this time (mid 20th century) can be traced to man.” The study, commissioned by the UBA, gives an anthropogenic greenhouse signal of 59.9%. However the study then states that the greenhouse signal for European temperatures is hardly significant at only 7.6%. According to the study, an equally high impact is assigned to both climate gas emissions and to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). That result is nowhere to be found in the UBA pamphlet. We suppose that the impact of the NAO having already been emphasized way back in 2000 would only cause confusion! Instead, time and again, only the publication by Schellnhuber and Rahmstorf (Climate Change, C. H. Beck, 2007) gets quoted. On page 40 only greenhouse gases come into question: “The warming since the 1970s cannot be explained by natural causes.” Page 45 states that the models “give a contribution to warming by anthropogenic causes (greenhouse gases and aerosols) of 0.5 °C”. And because warming in the 20th century (p. 50) is 0.6 °C, it means that already 80% of the warming is due to anthropogenic impacts. Yet, the UBA takes it a step further. On page 38 the pamphlet depicts the climate model results of the IPCC 2007 report. Here the impact from natural factors is close to zero (Figure 1), if not even negative, and only the anthropogenic factors cause warming.
This all leads to crucial questions when it comes to sensitivity. It’s beyond doubt that climate gas CO2 contributes to warming. But what is more important is the question: How much? As you know climate sensitivity of CO2 is the warming that results from a doubling of CO2 concentration with respect to the pre-industrial 280 ppm.
Here the UBA –publication cites only Schellnhuber/Rahmstorf (Climate Change, p. 42): “The assured valid range of climate sensitivity is 2 to 4.5 °C […] Thus one can assume that 3°C is the most probable value.”
Since then, however, numerous scientific findings are showing that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is much lower (see here).
In peer-reviewed journals, the following CO2 climate sensitivities have been published:
Nic Lewis 1.1 to 2.2°C (Journal of Climate 2013 ), Troy Masters 1.5 to 2.9°C (Climate Dynamics 2013 ), Michael Ring 1.5 to 2°C ( Atmospheric and Climate Science 2012 ). Also the results of the Norwegian Research Council have cut the sensitivity of CO2 in half. But for the UBA, this is all not worth mentioning.
In our book “Die Kalte Sonne” we calculated a CO2 climate sensitivity of 1 to 1.5 °C. Yes, we have to deal with an anthropogenic warming that is far below the catastrophic prognoses of the IPCC and its representatives: 2 to 6 °C. The main message of our book: the natural factors give us time to change our energy basis over to a sustainable foundation. And as far as I can tell, our claim is not far off from the latest scientific results.
Nevertheless our scientifically founded point of view is being banned by the UBA.
Mr. President, in view of the mentioned publication by 17 climate scientists, who have reduced the CO2 climate sensitivity by about one half, your environmental agency really needs to put the pamphlet through the shredder.
UBA has ventured out of bounds
The tasks and duties of the UBA are clearly outlined in accordance with the Act establishing the (UBA). Among its tasks is to clear up questions in the public concerning environmental issues and coordinating environmental research of the country, UBA mission statement here.
However with the publication of the recent pamphlet “And indeed the warming continues”, your agency has clearly ventured out of bounds.
I’d like to know how you intend to correct this unprecedented distortion of scientific data.
I believe that the Parliamentarians of the German Bundestag should know what kind of publications federal tax money is being used for.
Therefore I am taking the privilege of sending a copy of the German version of this letter to the Chairman of the Budget Committee and to the Federal Ministry for the Environment.
Photo Vahrenholt: kaltesonne.de/