It’s unusual to see rationality over climate change in the German media, but sometimes it manages to get through.
In April this year I missed an important podcast interview with one of the world’s most prominent Sahara Desert researchers, geologist Dr. Stefan Kröpelin, by the Düsseldorf-based German daily, Rheinische Post.
Image: University of Cologne
The two RP hosts conducting the interview seemed to expect Dr. Kröpelin would tell the audience how dire the consequences of man-made global warming are on the Sahara Desert and planet overall.
They didn’t get what they bargained for.
Warming does not lead to desertification
Instead, in the interview, Dr. Kröpelin rejected in very clear terms man’s major climatic impact and that global warming is only negative.
Kröpelin told listeners that history is very clear: When the globe is cold, the deserts expand. And when the globe is warm, deserts become greener and far more fruitful.
Kröpelin is a leading expert
Kröpelin has been studying the Sahara for over 40 years, spending weeks and months each year on site gathering data a reconstructing past climates. Nature described Kröpelin as “one of the most devoted Sahara explorers of our time.”
At about 9 minutes into the interview, he explains how the Sahara was massive in size during the last glacial period, and that about ten thousand years ago it greened up once temperatures shot up early in the Holocene.
When asked (10:15) if he worries that things in the Sahara “will get much worse” due to climate change, Kröpelin tells the host and audience: “First, that is a statement I 100% reject”, adding that localized desertification has more to do with the population growth at the edges of the desert and that the people who live there are cutting down trees and extracting water from the ground.
Rising precipitation, shrinking desert
Next (12:00), Kröpelin talks about the remote edges of the Sahara where few people live: “Here we signs that precipitation is increasing and that should the trend continue, the desert is going to shrink.” Similarly as it did at the end of the last glacial. “The Sahara changed from a desert to a savannah. These are not model simulations.” He says rather this is” based 100%” on real observations of a wide variety of proxy data taken throughout the region.
The greening of the Sahara “happened not because it got colder, but because it got warmer,” he said.
A third would become livable again
Kröpelin also shocks the host and audience, claiming that even if the climate models were true, which he says he doesn’t believe, “Maybe one third of the African continent will be a livable zone again. That would be an unbelievable advantage for the people in Sub-Saharan Africa. […] I dispute that over the last decades there’s been a climatically controlled increase of the desert.”
“Never been a stable climate”
On the subject of climate-induced human migration, Kröpelin says human migrations due to climate changes have always occurred. In the past sea level changes simply caused the people to step back or forwards a few meters. But today, the problem is that the built infrastructure is unable to move with the changes. “There’s never been a really stable climate.”
“What’s one meter from 4000?”
On sea level rise, Kröpelin plays down the changes that are occurring today, reminding us that the average depth of the ocean is some 4000 meters, noting. “What’s one meter from 4000 meters of sea depth?”
Climate change “totally exaggerated”
When asked about the climate protests now taking place (21:00), Kröpelin comments: “I would say that today’s handling of climate change is hysterical” and that “we should not be dramatizing.”
The University of Cologne expert geologist says that by only looking at the last few decades, “We can naturally create panic. But I find it totally exaggerated.”
PIK painting “doomsday scenarios”
Kröpelin notes that the claim that global warming is all bad just “isn’t true” and that “the real catastrophe would be a dramatic drop in global temperature” and that “warming is the least of our problems.” He adds: “Climate change is totally exaggerated.”
He sharply criticizes the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) for “painting doomsday scenarios” and says the topic has been heated up by politics.