The Resonator, the research podcast of the German Helmholtz Research Group conducted a long interview (1 hr 40 min!) with climate scientist Hans von Storch director of the GKSS Research Center. In the interview von Storch was asked about his views on a wide variety of climate science related issues.
Overall the interview saw a Hans von Storch who spoke frankly and openly. Some of the remarks he made raised my eye brows. In general von Storch, best described as a non-alarmist warmist, views the climate debate as being dominated by the more extreme positions from both sides, with voices in the middle getting drowned out. He levels a fair amount of criticism at the climate science community, but does so without naming any persons in particular.
Due to the sheer length of the interview, I will only look at the points that I found interesting and relevant as skeptic.
Scientists too quick to accept dramatic scenarios
At the 15-minute mark von Storch describes a science that is so politicized with both sides are trying to make it black and white, and a debate that has been overly shrill. Some scientists, he says, have tended to accept dramatic scenarios and consequences even when there’s little evidence behind them. He also talks of a group of scientists who fancy themselves as the ultimate authority and who have the last word. All the exaggerations and projections of doom, gloom and disaster have led to an overall discrediting of the field.
“Science and Nature are pretty bad journals”
At the 29-minute mark von Storch says he sees himself as someone who needs a lot of time before he is convinced of anything. I was surprised to hear him call both Science and Nature “pretty bad journals” when it comes to the quality of their articles. Hans von Storch cites an article published by Science claiming that the climate was going to tip in the year 2047, calling the report “a real doozy“. He says that science journals must remain sufficiently critical and not let themselves get caught up with the zeitgeist. Von Storch admits that he has not always been popular among the community.
Overall von Storch doesn’t blame the media much for the hysteria, implying that the hysteria stems more from scientists communicating poorly. The media are only interpreting what the scientists are spewing. Projections of snowless winters, for example, were hardly helpful in lending credibility to climate science.
Scientists dramatizing for attention and prestige
At the 37-minute mark von Storch believes some scientists succumbed to drama in order to get attention and prestige, and says that the such are only damaging the credibility of climate science.
Models too CO2-centric
At the 40-minute mark von Storch discusses possible reasons why the warming has stalled and thinks other explanations need to be examined, such as solar activity and aerosols. He finds climate models too CO2-centric in general. Here he appeals for more patience to let the science unfold.
At the 45 minute mark he fires harsh criticism at scientists who promote a society governed by an elite technocracy, calling the idea “stupidity”. He calls the proposals made by a group of scientists in favor of appointing future councils to represent the interests of future generations “peculiar”.
At the 59-minute mark, on whether storms are becoming more frequent and severe, von Storch says he doesn’t think this is the case and that the disasters are more about the over-development of coastal areas.
Hockey stick was “something dumb” – an attempt to steer politics
On the hockey stick chart, at the 63 minute mark, von Storch has some blunt words on how it was possible for it to become the icon it became. He recalls having examined the chart himself and finding it deficient.
I believe it was something dumb by scientists who wanted to steer politics.”
He thinks the climate science community were too quick to call it the last word. Hans von Storch sees critique of the hockey stick and confirmed and that’s why it no longer appears in the IPCC reports. Scientists, von Storch reminds us, should not be so quick to claim absolute truth.
Also, von Storch believes that the oceans could be warming up, but that there is very little data out there to confirm it.