This week’s print edition of Der Spiegel features an interview with Prof. Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, the Director of the climate doomsday Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and advisor to Pope Francis.
Hat-tip: Reader Stefan B.
8°C of warming
When asked if society is headed for trouble, Schellnhuber warns that if we continue burning fossil fuels as before, then “we will end up with 4 or even 8°C of warming” and that “we will find ourselves in an extremely dangerous world“.
Only 20% chance humanity will save itself
In the interview he says that “on bad days I get really depressed” and that humanity finds itself in the “race of its life“. He tells Spiegel that the planet is going to take some hard hits, but that it still isn’t too late to avert total damage. Throughout the interview Schellnhuber’s pessimism at time takes on weird, surrealistic dimensions. In his book, Spiegel writes, Schellnhuber sees only a 20% chance the world will succeed in putting the brakes on climate change.
State must intervene
In the interview Schellnhuber harshly criticizes the UN climate process, describing the conferneces as Kafkaesque events that keep postponing the rescue of the world. He says we have to wonder “if there is any intelligent life on the planet“.
He sees little chance of curbing the fossil fuel industry quickly enough, yet holds out hope that divesting from fossil fuel companies might do the trick:
If for example some influential investors pulled their money out of the coal, oil and gas industry because they felt it no longer had a future, then we would get an avalanche dynamic that could cause the old system to quickly implode on itself.”
Wow! And all the human casualties resulting from that scenario be damned, Schellnhuber seems to be saying.
Throughout the interview Schellnhuber calls on the state to use its might to massively intervene in the free market and industry, e.g. especially the automotive industry. He hopes that governments will soon require carmakers to meet punishingly high emission standards and in this way force them to produce electric cars instead.
In the interview Schellnhuber tells Spiegel that (when he isn’t flying all over the world to places like Australia in a jet) he gets around in an i3 by BMW. Sounds pricey. He tells Spiegel he wonders why people still drive the dirty cars powered by combustion engines.
Worse than thought 5 or 10 years ago
When asked if scientists have been too shrill with their warnings and if he is perhaps being too alarmist, Schellnhuber responds:
Precisely because I, as an expert, know that we have very little time to stop a global tragedy, I have to raise my voice. […] Unfortunately the situation looks more dramatic than what we perceived it to be five or ten years ago.”
Here Schellnhuber claims already the West Antarctic Peninsula has already begun to collapse.
When asked if he tends to jump on the alarmist prognoses that suit his concept regarding storm frequency, Schellnhuber denies that he does, but adds, “but my physical intuition tells me that storms, especially in connection with thunderstorms, will be more severe all over the world if more energy gets pumped into the atmosphere. Nature will decide who is right.”
Schellnhuber also tells Spiegel he does not see any global temperature pause whatsoever in the temperature datasets. But he does admit the globe cooled for awhile after 1945 and that no one knows why.
Moon stations on earth
At the end of the interview Schellnhuber piles on the global warming doom hyperbole, warning that a world that is 7 or 8 degrees warmer will be almost uninhabitable and that “we will be building moon stations on earth“, citing today’s Persian Gulf and its completely artificially climatized urbanization – and with “bizarre medical consequences“. He adds:
Even though in Abu Dhabi where the sun shines the whole year, the residents there suffer from a massive lack of exposure to light. Nowhere else on earth are there so many people with vitamin D deficiency, which leads to rickets and other things.”
At 65, it’s time for Schellnhuber to also have himself checked for possible Vitamin deficiencies, and to go into retirement. He’d do science a big favor.
Image: Cropped from Spiegel October 31, 2015 print edition.