By Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(German text translated/edited by P Gosselin)
The history of science is rich in discoveries, progress, falsehoods and confusion. How will future generations see the history of climate science? Where are they going to set the point that distinguishes alarmism from reasonable science?
August 12, 2016 could be an important date on the way to answering this question. On that date Vladimir Jankovic and David Schultz of the University of Manchester published in the journal Weather, Climate and Society an important paper of great clarity and openness. In doing so, they coined an important new term: Atmosfear, the fanning of fear through the use suspected processes occurring in the atmosphere.
Jankovic and Schultz do not mince any words. They criticize the simplistic view that extreme weather is always the consequence of man’s activity and that it could be tamed simply by reducing emissions. The recent rise in extreme weather damage can be traced back almost entirely to societal factors, i.e. the increased number of insurance companies, insured values and people settling more in areas of hazard.
The paper’s abstract tells us the important points:
Atmosfear: Communicating the Effects of Climate Change on Extreme Weather
The potential and serious effects of anthropogenic climate change are often communicated through the soundbite that anthropogenic climate change will produce more extreme weather. This soundbite has become popular with scientists and the media to get the public and governments to act against further increases in global temperature and their associated effects through the communication of scary scenarios, what we term “atmosfear.” Underlying atmosfear’s appeal, however, are four premises. First, atmosfear reduces the complexity of climate change to an identifiable target in the form of anthropogenically forced weather extremes. Second, anthropogenically driven weather extremes mandate a responsibility to act to protect the planet and society from harmful and increased risk. Third, achieving these ethical goals is predicated on emissions policies. Fourth, the end-result of these policies—a non-anthropogenic climate—is assumed to be more benign than an anthropogenically influenced one. Atmosfear oversimplifies and misstates the true state of the science and policy concerns in three ways. First, weather extremes are only one of the predicted effects of climate change and are best addressed by measures other than emission policies. Second, a pre-industrial climate may remain a policy goal, but is unachievable in reality. Third, the damages caused by any anthropogenically driven extremes may be overshadowed by the damages caused by increased exposure and vulnerability to the future risk. In reality, recent increases in damages and losses due to extreme weather events are due to societal factors. Thus, invoking atmosfear through such approaches as attribution science is not an effective means of either stimulating or legitimizing climate policies.
And how did the German press deal with the study?
We googled “Atmosfear, Manchester, Extremwetter”. No hits. Yet another case of Total Silence (“Incredible String of Failures by Rahmstorf Continues“): New Study Finds no Robust Relationship Between Shrinking Sea Ice and European Cold Waves”, which the media completely ignored as well.