The online Der Spiegel yesterday published a piece by Hans von Storch, Director of the GKSS-Research Center in Geesthacht, Germany and Nico Stehr of the Karl-Mannheim-Professur for Cultural Sciences at the Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen. The title:”The world of the the world-saving professors has failed“
Their conclusion on Durban: “The conference in Durban was a disappointment; environmental policy is stuck. Climate scientists are to blame because they are fixated on conceitedness and missionary zeal for reducing CO2 emissions.” They add:
The UN Climate Conference in Durban was a swan song.”
The attempt by scientists to guide a successful climate policy has failed. […] The cause for this is a false understanding of the role of climate science and the simplification of the climate change problem.”
For years, science professors had taken on the role of saving the planet, their arrogance exploding faster than CO2 emissions in China. It wasn’t long ago that everything appeared to be in order for the climate scientists. Physicist and chancellor Angela Merkel even allowed herself to be advised by leading scientists of a renowned institute, one was even allowed to use the title: “Advisor to the Chancellor”. Von Storch and Steyr write:
Their views were accepted throughout the world as fact and their suggestions taken as correct.
Politics was to be guided by science – the science of a few men. Since then climate policy has failed, and CO2 emissions have risen unabated.
They led to failed climate policy. The leading figures in climate science are now suffering from withdrawal syndrome because no one wants to listen to them any longer, let alone celebrate them.”
Citing James Hansen, von Storch and Steyr are calling for a new direction in climate communication policy, pleading that policymakers move away from “Hollywood scientists”, who are naively portrayed as playing the lead roles as “world rescuers”.
What’s needed, the two authors say, is a more open discussion and not “autocratic government forms as solutions to the climate problem” or “great transformations of society” backed by the authority of scientists.
Von Storch and Steyr write that all the scare-mongering has had a devastating impact. Claims that climate change will lead to climate wars, death, disease, refugees, etc. are “not only perceived as attempts by single groups of scientists to gain recognition and financing, but also lead to perceptions that everything is connected to climate change.” Von Storch and Steyr write:
This either gets understood as absurdity or leads to the acceptance of an inevitable fate.”
Von Storch and Steyr cite recent US surveys that show society no longer trusts scientists.
Factual discussions hardly take place between climate science, civil societal organizations, and politics. The acceptance of climate science as a competent, objective interpreter is disappearing.”
It’s time for scientists to devote themselves to science once again. The societal climate debate has to open up.”
If anything else can be concluded, it is that something has gone terribly wrong and that major overhauls of the entire process are long overdue and in dire need. And when Der Spiegel, who started this whole mess 25 years ago, starts bringing it up, then you know something is afoot.