New Book By Hans von Storch: Climate Scientists Took On Role Of Prophets…”Completely In Over Their Heads”

At their blogsite here climatologist (IPCC author) Professor Hans von Storch and cultural scientist Werner Krauss have announced they’ve authored a new book on the topic of climate change, society and policy:

Climate Trap

“The Climate Trap – The dangerous proximity of politics and climate science” – Hanser Verlag

The book will be released later this month by Munich publisher Hanser Verlag. A longer excerpt for reading is available here in German.

This is neither a skeptic nor an alarmist book. In it von Storch and Krauss have plenty of harsh criticism for both sides of the debate, and then some. Both sides, they claim, are responsible for having driven the climate issue into the ground. The book, they say, explains how climate science got there in the first place, and what possibilities are left to get climate sciences back on track so that it can produce productive action.

Here are some excerpts of the publisher’s excerpt:

On the state of climate change today, von Storch and Krauss write (my emphasis):

After the unprecedented success story of climate change becoming an object of public attention and concern, climate policy and the accompanying climate debate have wound up in a dead end. Despite the Kyoto Protocol and other agreements, commitments to transform the energy supply, and all the climate summits, there’s been no noteworthy success. To the contrary: The curve depicting global emissions of greenhouse gases has been surging upwards. In the summer of 2012, at the summit Rio +20, katzenjammer was everywhere.”

On the climate debate:

Together with climate politics, the climate sciences have ended up in a credibility crisis. The often-made commitment of limiting the temperature increase to 2°C is scientifically controversial and practically impossible politically. The debate is also being paralyzed by a raging public dispute between alarmists and skeptics. […]

The climate debate is stuck in the mud, the credibility of climate scientists has been cast into doubt, and the policymakers’ ability to act on the issue of climate is minimal. We are sitting in the climate trap.”

Why are we in this trap? Von Storch and Krauss write:

It’s not only incompetent politics, the exaggerations by the media and climate protectors, or the destructive forces of the skeptics that are responsible for the interim failure of climate policy. More responsible is the fact that we failed to understand the problem in its full dimension.”

The authors reveal how they feel about alarmist scientists. Since the early 2000s they felt “something was amiss”.

Was the climate apocalypse really at our doorstep as we could read in the media? Or were they exaggerating in their depiction of the results coming from climate science? […]

The climate scientist [von Storch] had the suspicion that climate science was dragging around a ‘cultural rucksack’ that was influencing the interpretation of the data. The cultural scientist [Krauss], with regards to the appearances by some climate scientists in the media and the roles they were readily assigned, was reminded of weather-wizards and shamans of foreign cultures.”

In the book, the authors even describe climate science as a ‘tribe of scientists’ and how some began behaving like prophets:

Some climate scientists were regular interview-partners and talkshow guests – and thus self-confidence became bigger, to the point that they knew the truth about climate change and thus became convinced that policy-making and society should follow the deeper insight of science.”

Without really being aware of it, climate scientists had taken over the role of prophets: They predicted the imminent end-of-the-world if society did not fundamentally change soon, reduced its emissions, and behaved more sustainably with the environment. The problem was not only the message, but also that they were were often completely way in over their heads with the role as mediator between nature and society.”

These “prophets” put out a story that was too much to handle. Von Storch and Krauss write:

Science delivered the raw material for a big climate narrative, one that still continues to shape our perception and media depiction of climate change today. It unleashed the horror scenarios of the Cold War and the fear of the atom, conveying them into the 21st century. A narrative seeded in the world by climate scientists, and one that keeps going out of their control again and again.”

The authors tell us that the way out of the “climate trap” is to begin by “viewing climate change as an issue that does not hang over us like ominous writing on the wall, but as one that has an appropriate place in our societies.” Krauss and von Storch are telling us: “Cool it!” They propose a third, alternative way.

If the rest of the book is like the beginning, then it will have the potential to change the direction of the climate discussion in Germany for the better. It’ll be near the top of my birthday wishlist.

16 responses to “New Book By Hans von Storch: Climate Scientists Took On Role Of Prophets…”Completely In Over Their Heads””

  1. Doug Cotton

    The reason it is “over their heads” is because climate scientists (like Roy Spencer) don’t understand the physics involved. The following demonstrates …


    Roy, the following proves that your point (6) in your post about “Misunderstandings” is incorrect in assuming isothermal conditions could exist in a gravitational field.

    It is well known that the “Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate” is -g/Cp where g is acceleration due to gravity and Cp is weighted mean Specific Heat of the gases involved.

    The -g/Cp result can be derived from first principles based solely on the assumption that, in the absence of any other process adding or removing energy, potential energy (PE) interchanges with kinetic energy (KE) in every molecular free flight path between impacts with other molecules. We know this must happen from basic Newtonian physics.

    So, if a few picograms of mass M move with net mean downward motion represented by a mean height distance H (which could be negative if the net motion were upward – thus covering all possibilities) and thus gain (or lose) KE which is equivalent to the loss (or gain) of PE, then that KE is the energy required to raise the mass M by a temperature difference, T. If we use specific heat, Cp (rather than heat capacity) so that M cancels, then that KE gain is the product M.Cp.T whilst the PE loss is of course the normal Newtonian product M.g.H and hence

    M.Cp.T = – M.g.H
    and so the thermal gradient is
    T/H = -g/Cp

    Now we also need to consider the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which has not been considered in your post as far as I can see.
    I will use the modern statement (because the Clausius statement, I say, only applies in a horizontal plane where PE = constant.) Quoting from Wiki “Laws of Thermodynamics” item, the Second Law of Thermodynamics reads …

    “An isolated system, if not already in its state of thermodynamic equilibrium, spontaneously evolves towards it. Thermodynamic equilibrium has the greatest entropy amongst the states accessible to the system.”

    Note also the definition of thermodynamic equilibrium

    “A thermodynamic system is in thermodynamic equilibrium when it is in thermal equilibrium, mechanical equilibrium, radiative equilibrium, and chemical equilibrium. Equilibrium means a state of balance. In a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, there are no net flows of matter or of energy, no phase changes, and no unbalanced potentials (or driving forces), within the system. A system that is in thermodynamic equilibrium experiences no changes when it is isolated from its surroundings.”

    So we also need mechanical equilibrium which involves no net mass transfer still happening.

    We will assume we have a perfectly insulated cylinder of pure nitrogen gas, so phase change, chemical reactions and radiation don’t play a part in disturbing the equilibrium.

    Now, when you turn the cylinder to a vertical position you have a situation which is not thermodynamic equilibrium. The “build up of pressure” is not instantaneous, as it requires physical movement of molecules with more ending up at the bottom.

    Hence, we immediately see that the original isothermal state in a horizontal position is no longer a state of thermodynamic equilibrium the instant it is in a vertical position. This in fact is obvious, because the mean of (PE+KE) for all the molecules in the top half is more than the mean of (PE+KE) for those in the bottom half. This is the very reason that the molecules move, and the fact that that movement amounts to work being done, demonstrates that the isothermal state in a vertical column was not a state of thermodynamic equilibrium.

    Hence an isothermal state IN A VERTICAL PLANE does not represent the required equilibrium conditions of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    So we need to consider what then would be the thermodynamic equilibrium state representing greatest entropy, as required by the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
    The very reason that the isothermal state was not in thermodynamic equilibrium is that the mean (PE+KE) was different in the top half and the bottom half, because then there was a propensity for some molecules to “fall” to lower heights, in order to create the extra pressure we do in fact observe.

    Hence, only when the mean (PE+KE) is homogeneous throughout the vertical column do we then have thermodynamic equilibrium which is also that of maximum entropy, wherein no extra work can be done by the system.

    Hence, only the state with homogeneous (PE+KE) per molecule satisfies the equilibrium requirements of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    As a corollary, we then deduce that the mean KE is less where the mean PE is greater, and vice versa.

    Then, since temperature is a measure of mean KE and is independent of PE, we have a warmer temperature at the bottom (where PE is least) and a cooler temperature at the top where PE is greatest. QED

  2. Manfred

    » Das ist ein ungewöhnliches und provozierendes Buch. Ein Naturwissenschaftler und ein Kulturwissenschaftler haben es gemeinsam geschrieben. Sie werden hoffentlich sowohl die Klimaleugner als auch die Klimaalarmisten in ihren abgeschotteten Kreisen stören.«
    Reimar Lüst, ehemaliger Präsident der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


    Was versteht Luest unter einem Klimaleugner ? Warum verwendet er diesen historisch schwer belasteten Begriff ?

    Ist ein Klimaleugner, jemand, der meint, Klimawandel sei ueberwiegend auf natuerliche Ursachen zurueckzufuehren ?
    Jemand, der meint, die heutige Warmzeit sei nicht aussergewoehnlich fuer die letzten 1000 Jahre ?
    Jemand, der meint, dass die Klimasensitivitaet unterhalb der IPCC “very likely” Spanne von 2-4.5 K liege ?
    Jemand, der meint, dass die Klimasensitivitaet im Bereich der “very unlikely” Spanne unterhalb 1.5 Grad liege ?

    Mit der Korrektur der Fehler der Bayes’schen Methode nach Nic Lewis und den neuen Daten fuer Aerosole in AR5 sinkt die Klimasensitivitaet auf ca. 1.6 K.

    Mit juengst veroeffentlichten Erhoehung des Forcings fuer Black Carbon sinkt sie nochmals um fast 20% auf nur noch 1.35 K.

    Sind Natur bzw, die Physik nun auch ein Klimaleugner ?

    Herr Luests Kommentar beschaedigt leider dieses Buch und die Max Planck Gesellschaft.

    1. Mindert Eiting

      3 + 4 = x. For one x this is true and for an infinite number of other x false. Probability that ‘3 + 4 = 7’ is true, equals 1/infinite = 0. Climate sensitivity equalling zero may be true while the IPCC sets its probability at zero.

  3. Harry Dale Huffman

    The climate scientists are “in over their heads” not because they have tried to be catastrophe-prophets, but because their science is wrong, and they are incompetent before plain, and even definitive, evidence. So von Storch and Krauss are wrong too, and theirs is just another viewpoint that will not survive if and when real progress in climate science becomes clear to the scientists and the wider world–their view only postpones that glorious day, into the next generation, many years away.

    1. Brian H

      Indeed; throughout, it is evident they consider science has established the CO2-climate mechanism and prediction. But when that lynch-pin is pulled, all changes. Climate scientists (warmist majority) are not just “over their heads”; they are deep in a hole in a mountain of BS, and digging furiously.

  4. Brian G Valentine

    ” … the authors even describe climate science as a ‘tribe of scientists’ and how some began behaving like prophets … ”

    I agree with them there, the whole idea of “altering the climate by altering the atmosphere” is a delusion, which fails to explain any of the past and cannot possibly predict any future events. The only defence this sophistry has is labeling anybody who disagrees with it “deniers” and encourage everybody else to chime in with bullying.

    I read only the excerpt you have provided, I would expect better from von Storch, I am not going to make it a birthday wish or any other occasion for that matter.

  5. Mindert Eiting

    I keep my money in my pocket till a history book is published with title, ‘The climate hoax, its birth, rise, and fall’. Should consist of about one thousand pages, preferably in hard cover. Who will be the author?

    1. Ed Caryl

      I probably will not live long enough. (Sigh…)

      1. Brian G Valentine

        Actually, the history of crackpot climate “science” will be part of treatise titled, “The Decline and Fall of Western Civilisation.”

  6. Fred Singer

    I agree with the authors that there is no scientific basis for the widely adopted warming threshold of 2 degC.

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