Online German daily Die Welt here published a surprisingly anti-alarmist article written by Prof Wolfgang Behringer, a science historian at the University of Saarbrücken.
His conclusion: climate change and ice cap melting (and freezing) are nothing new and that man ought to be grateful it’s warmer, and not be hysterical about it.
Indeed this is the first time in human history where some among us are cursing the warmth. He writes: “The ice at the poles is supposedly melting faster than ever before – but that has occurred many times before. That it’s getting warmer on the planet is good news for man.” (Actually, it hasn’t warmed in over 10 years, but we will go along with Behringer’s overall statement).
Behringer says that so many climate predictions have been shown to be wrong, e.g. more hurricanes because of warming, that climate scientists have adopted a new pattern of argumentation: “The prognosis was wrong, but we are still right.”
Behringer writes that all the horror stories about melting Arctic every August are convenient for journalists for filling in the slow news cycle that is typical during vacation month of August. Warm periods are hardly foreign to the planet. Behringer reminds us: “In the nomenclature of geology, a ‘warm period’ is defined by completely ice-free poles. According to this terminology, we’ve been living in an ice age for a few million years now.”
The warm period of the Holocene over the last 10,000 years (70% of which has been warmer than it is today) has been a blessing for mankind, facilitating the development of agriculture. Behringer cites numerous examples and reminds us that life during the Little Ice Age, let alone the ice age itself, is not anything we would want to go back to.
Behringer then says that the role of the Arctic is minor:
The entire Arctic plays hardly a role. 90 percent of the ice and 70 percent of the world’s fresh water are stockpiled in the Antarctic ice sheet, and it is disputed on whether or not it is growing. At 82.5°C below zero at the top of Antarctic, the risk of melting would appear to be relatively small for even the laymen among us.
As long as it keeps getting warmer, it’s good news. When the Holocene comes to an end, as it was once believed in the 1960s after a few cold years, then we could really be in for the blues. […] With all the consensus on global warming, we are obviously treading on thin ice when it comes to its interpretation.”
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Behringer teaches at the University of Saarbrücken and is the author of A Cultural History of Climate.