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:
“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.