Vahrenholt Hits Back At German Government’s Pillory Of Skeptics: “Why Did You Falsify My Biography?”

Vahrenholt_Photo_DkS site Germany’s version of the EPA, the Umweltbundesamt (UBA) unleashed a wave of outrage with the publication of a 123-page pamphlet dubbed: “And indeed it continues to warm – What’s behind the climate science debate” (background here).

The government pamphlet defames and blacklists US and German climate skeptic scientists and journalists.

Among those targeted is Professor Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, co-author of the the German skeptic book, Die kalte Sonne. German daily Die Welt here and Die kalte Sonne here publish his open letter. Here it is in English with permission (short version).

To the
President of the Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environment Agency)
Herrn Jochen Flasbarth
Postfach 1406
06813 Dessau-Roßlau Germany

Ref.: False portrayal in your pamphlet: “And indeed it continues to warm

Dear Mr. President,

At a time when 17 climate scientists, who are very close to the IPCC (Otto, Nature Geoscience, 19 May 2013), surprised the public with a startling report showing that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is 50% lower than what had been assumed, thus telling us that all previous prognoses of anthropogenic climate warming are in need of correction, your agency the German Umweltbundesamt (UBA) released a 123-page publication titled “And indeed it continues to warm”. The brochure swears by the IPCC prognoses and it also deals harshly with people who dispute the science surrounding the temperature development we have seen so far this century by using false assertions, omissions and defamation in an intolerable manner. For a federal authority, which belongs to the Federal Ministry of Environment, this is completely unacceptable.

Obstruction of freedom of expression

Before I bring up the major flaws in your pamphlet, I would like to ask: Whatever compelled you to deny journalists their right to free expression and scientists their right to critically scrutinize scientific findings?

As far as I can tell, contrary to what your pamphlet asserts, not a single “climate change skeptic” named in your brochure disputes the warming trend of the earth by greenhouse gases. In the scientific discussion, it is all about attribution, speed, and the extent of climate change, and the necessary measures needed for prevention or adaptation.

Falsified biography

I am personally concerned. In the section “Climate Skeptics in Germany” where you highlight in yellow, brand, and pillory the names of journalists, organizations – and the scientists Vahrenholt and Lüning – the method you use is clear: Critics are portrayed as industry henchmen. Regarding my curriculum vitae, you write that I was the chairman of German Shell and have been the manager of power company RWE since 2001. The latter is false. In 2001 I founded the Repower wind energy corporation, made it to the leader in the sector, and was CEO until 2008. Why did you falsify my biography?  Did it better fit the image of the villain you wanted to create?

In 2008 I was named Managing Director of the renewable energy company RWE Innogy, which I played a part in founding. Year after year it was the largest investor in the business. You also failed to mention that my primary duty at Shell was to develop renewable energies for the company. The construction of the first solar factory in Germany occurred while I was on the Board. You also fail to mention, because it does not fit the picture, that from 1976 to 1981 I was a manager at the UBA itself, the very agency that is now mocking me.

That you did not mention my term as managing director of RWE Innogy and my current function as the Charirman of the Deutschen Wildtier Stiftung (German Wildlife Foundation) also tells us that the pamphlet has one sole aim: to defame a critic.

You did not handle my Die kalte Sonne co-author Dr. Sebastian Lüning any better. As an assistant professor of geology and paleontology, he had been a peer reviewer for geo-scientific journals for years. He had not been working for RWE DEA for quite some time. What is your idea for scientific debate when you presume that we “are not real climate scientists” and thus not able to examine the various climate models in depth?

I would truly like to know which expert scientists wrote this pamphlet, where Stefan Rahmstorf is cited as a source 12 times. Can you exclude before the public that Mr. Rahmstorf or one of his colleagues played a part in preparing this pamphlet? It seems likely, because when one adds up the projects the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have been commissioned to do by the UBA, we see it comes out to approximately 8 million euros (read here). In addition there are various products that employees of the PIK participated in. Example here.

Whenever one falsifies personal data of this kind, as is the case in your pamphlet, then one has to expect omissions, half-truths and inaccuracies throughout. On this matter I would like to point a few items.

Few scientists deny warming has stopped

On page 8 the pamphlet explains that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) uses 30 years as the time period for studying climate. Thus from that it is concluded that a series of cool years in a decade doesn’t mean the climate is cooling. This is only the case “when the cooling extends over several decades”. That is false. In climate science it is undisputed that the significance of a warming or non-warming period is measured to be about 17 years (Santer et al., Journal of Geophys. Res. 2011). Up to now it has been 15 years since the temperature has stopped rising, even as enormous amounts of CO2 are emitted year after year. Between 2000 and 2010 about 100 billion tons were emitted, which is one quarter of all emissions since 1750. This has to tell us something. Indeed there has to be a force out there that is counteracting the climate gas CO2 and its warming capability of 1.1°C for each doubling of CO2 concentration. But you refuse to consider that possibility. On page 54 the pamphlet states: “From the temperature development since 1998, some conclude that global warming has stopped since this time. However this is incorrect for the following reasons: […] The Hadcrut dataset in Figure 2 shows a continuing global warming for more than 30 years. That is a long-term warming trend. A long-term stagnation of global warming on the other hand is not detectable.” Yet IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri and James Hansen (formerly at NASA) think differently, and do recognize the missing temperature increase. Only very few scientists refuse to recognize this stop in warming, as Stefan Rahmstorf does. This outlier opinion obviously has been accepted by the UBA.

UBA refuses to acknowledge natural factors

The UBA is obviously unaware of the fact that the warming of the 20th century occurred cyclically. The warming from 1910 to 1940 was followed by a cooling until 1977. Then another similar period of warming occurred from 1977 to 1998. In our book “Die kalte Sonne” and at our blog (here and here) we point out that the oceanic cycles were not taken into account by the climate models and the IPCC reports. When these well-known powerful cycles are taken into account, then the warming due to CO2 from 1977 to 1988 is only 50% of what is claimed.

What is even stranger is that page 110 of your report falsely quotes and distorts the content of our book: “Both authors […] of course make natural causes such as fluctuating solar activity responsible for the global warming of the last years”. Just reading the inside jacket of our book would have sufficed to learn that ocean cycles and the sun have played a much greater role in the history of our climate than what was previously thought. It is widely known by the public that the oceanic decadal oscillations generated a large part of the 1977 – 1998 warming.  This is a duty that would have been a credit to the government UBA according to its founding Act.

UBA bans rolling back CO2 climate sensitivity

Since then there have been numerous scientific findings that confirm this. Not least, this earlier under-estimation of the impacts of oceanic decadal oscillations has resulted in numerous authors revising CO2 climate sensitivity downward in countless peer-reviewed articles, and now claim it is only half as much as what was previously thought. Why is this not mentioned in the UBA pamphlet?

Instead, the German Federal Office of Environment (UBA) pamphlet on page 28 cites a study from the year 2000! (Grieser et al.): “About two thirds of the global warming since this time (mid 20th century) can be traced to man.” The study, commissioned by the UBA, gives an anthropogenic greenhouse signal of 59.9%. However the study then states that the greenhouse signal for European temperatures is hardly significant at only 7.6%. According to the study, an equally high impact is assigned to both climate gas emissions and to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). That result is nowhere to be found in the UBA pamphlet. We suppose that the impact of the NAO having already been emphasized way back in 2000 would only cause confusion! Instead, time and again, only the publication by Schellnhuber and Rahmstorf (Climate Change, C. H. Beck, 2007) gets quoted. On page 40 only greenhouse gases come into question: “The warming since the 1970s cannot be explained by natural causes.” Page 45 states that the models “give a contribution to warming by anthropogenic causes (greenhouse gases and aerosols) of 0.5 °C”. And because warming in the 20th century (p. 50) is 0.6 °C, it means that already 80% of the warming is due to anthropogenic impacts. Yet, the UBA takes it a step further. On page 38 the pamphlet depicts the climate model results of the IPCC 2007 report. Here the impact from natural factors is close to zero (Figure 1), if not even negative, and only the anthropogenic factors cause warming.

This all leads to crucial questions when it comes to sensitivity. It’s beyond doubt that climate gas CO2 contributes to warming. But what is more important is the question: How much? As you know climate sensitivity of CO2 is the warming that results from a doubling of CO2 concentration with respect to the pre-industrial 280 ppm.

Here the UBA –publication cites only Schellnhuber/Rahmstorf (Climate Change, p. 42):  “The assured valid range of climate sensitivity is 2 to 4.5 °C […] Thus one can assume that 3°C is the most probable value.

Since then, however, numerous scientific findings are showing that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is much lower (see here).

In peer-reviewed journals, the following CO2 climate sensitivities have been published:

Nic Lewis 1.1 to 2.2°C (Journal of Climate 2013 ), Troy Masters 1.5 to 2.9°C (Climate Dynamics 2013 ), Michael Ring 1.5 to 2°C ( Atmospheric and Climate Science 2012 ). Also the results of the Norwegian Research Council have cut the sensitivity of CO2 in half. But for the UBA, this is all not worth mentioning.

In our book “Die Kalte Sonne” we calculated a CO2 climate sensitivity of 1 to 1.5 °C. Yes, we have to deal with an anthropogenic warming that is far below the catastrophic prognoses of the IPCC and its representatives: 2 to 6 °C. The main message of our book: the natural factors give us time to change our energy basis over to a sustainable foundation. And as far as I can tell, our claim is not far off from the latest scientific results.

Nevertheless our scientifically founded point of view is being banned by the UBA.

Mr. President, in view of the mentioned publication by 17 climate scientists, who have reduced the CO2 climate sensitivity by about one half, your environmental agency really needs to put the pamphlet through the shredder.

UBA has ventured out of bounds

The tasks and duties of the UBA are clearly outlined in accordance with the Act establishing the (UBA). Among its tasks is to clear up questions in the public concerning environmental issues and coordinating environmental research of the country, UBA mission statement here.

However with the publication of the recent pamphlet “And indeed the warming continues”, your agency has clearly ventured out of bounds.

I’d like to know how you intend to correct this unprecedented distortion of scientific data.

I believe that the Parliamentarians of the German Bundestag should know what kind of publications federal tax money is being used for.

Therefore I am taking the privilege of sending a copy of the German version of this letter to the Chairman of the Budget Committee and to the Federal Ministry for the Environment.

Yours sincerely,

Fritz Vahrenholt

Photo Vahrenholt:


11 responses to “Vahrenholt Hits Back At German Government’s Pillory Of Skeptics: “Why Did You Falsify My Biography?””

  1. John Shade

    Good letter. In fact, a very good letter.

    It is a curious thing, but right now at Bishop Hill ( we see a powerful reply by a politician to a climate campaigner, and here on NTZ we see a powerful reply by a climate campaigner to a political appointee about a politically-loaded pamphlet.

    It is always pleasing to see examples of more careful analysis and more penetrating thought from the side of the debate that one supports, and these two letters do just that. Can anyone point me to any careful analysis and penetrating thought from the other side?

    It is another curious thing, on a wider stage, that it is so hard to find anything impressive from those most agitated about a certain trace gas in the atmosphere.

  2. Sean

    Before the UBA comes out with any type of follow on communications, I think they need to take a look at a phenomena known in the US as the “Streisand effect”. Their little pamphlet has brought the subject of poor climate predictions to the front page of many media outlets and it looks like the UBA and the climate science community is taking a drubbing.

    1. DirkH

      Currently the most amazing things happen. Even my local newspaper had an opinion piece talking about John Cook’s 97% survey – comparing it to the rigged election results in the DDR! ! (where the SED always won with 97% of all votes)

      It looks like the local newspaper are not as tightly controlled as the major ones.

  3. intrepid_wanders

    I was curious that you left off the “retired Senator” in his signature, so I looked into things a little more. First was the stupid wikipedia, which had everything the UBA appeared to use.

    What is the best is a real glimpse into his CV:

    1974 – 1975 Research work at the University of Münster and at the Max Planck Institute for Carbon Research, Mülheim

    1976 – 1981 Head of the section “Chemical Industry” in the Federal Environmental Agency in Berlin

    1981 – 1984 Head of Department of Environmental Policy, Waste Management and Air Pollution Control at the Hessian Ministry of Regional Development, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry

    1984 – 1990 Deputy Minister in the City of Hamburg Environmental Ministry

    1990 – 1991 Head of Chancellery of the City of Hamburg

    1991 – 1997
    Senator and Principal of the City of Hamburg Environmental Ministry
    Supervisory Board Chairman of Hamburgische Elektrizitätswerke HEW AG, Hamburg utility

    5 years with the UBA (I assume the Federal Environmental Agency in Berlin is the UBA) that is slandering him, over 20 years in government environmental and waste disposal service and when he was with Shell, it was for environmental and responsible waste disposal? WOW! Somebody stuck their ‘south of the belt buckle’ into a hornets nest. This is going to explode into so many hot pieces.

  4. Mike Spilligan

    Sometimes it must seem as though the Federal Republic has been absorbed by the GDR / DDR instead of vice versa.

    1. DirkH

      Here is, BTW, the CV of UBA president Flasbarth, hosted at the UBA.

      I find noteworthy:
      1993 – 2003 Mitglied im ZDF – Fernsehrat
      (member of the ZDF television committee)

      So the Greens control our broadcasters. As we are forced to pay for these broadcasters, the Greens use our own money to brainwash us. They are really masterful manipulators. (Yet the society they create is unviable – deliberately? Claudia Roth is on record to yearn for the day when France has a border with Poland and there is no Germany in between. But what would they destroy after that?)

  5. Jimbo


    “From the temperature development since 1998, some conclude that global warming has stopped since this time. However this is incorrect for the following reasons:….


    Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 5th July, 2005
    “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant….”

    Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 7th May, 2009
    ‘Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.’


    Dr. Mojib Latif – Spiegel – 19th November 2009
    “At present, however, the warming is taking a break,”…….”There can be no argument about that,”


    Dr. Phil Jones – BBC – 13th February 2010
    “I’m a scientist trying to measure temperature. If I registered that the climate has been cooling I’d say so. But it hasn’t until recently – and then barely at all. The trend is a warming trend.”


    Dr. Phil Jones – BBC – 13th February 2010
    [Q] B – “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

    [A] “Yes, but only just”.


    Dr. Robert K. Kaufmann – PNAS – 2nd June 2011
    “… has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008…..”


    Dr. Gerald A. Meehl – Nature Climate Change – 18th September 2011
    “There have been decades, such as 2000–2009, when the observed globally averaged surface-temperature time series shows little increase or even a slightly negative trend1 (a hiatus period)….”


    Dr. James Hansen – The Economist – 30th March 2013
    “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”…


    Now let them fight it out.

  6. GrumpyDenier

    It’s all a rearguard action now that the EU has given shale gas the OK. These people see that the gravy train is heading for the sidings and are desperate to keep the €s coming in.

    As usual they only worry that the headlines get seen and absorbed; they know the journalists won’t bother peering below the surface.

    Good riddance to them all.

  7. Sergio Holmes

    […] Indeed for the UBA it is obviously not about presenting facts simply and clearly. ‘And indeed the warming continues’ pamphlet is a declaration of war on so-called climate skeptics.

  8. Svarta listor på ”förnekare” - Stockholmsinitiativet - Klimatupplysningen

    […] Vahrenholt: ”Why did you falsify my biography” […]

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