An outstanding essay…
An extremely dangerous political development is in full swing in Europe: Legal courts are now taking it upon themselves to decide the questions of science.
Europe‘s climate courts infringing on the freedom of science
While constantly claiming they are “following the science”, climate change partisans are in reality suppressing it.
By Fred F. Mueller
This has been blatantly demonstrated in a decision of the Karlsruhe-based Federal Constitutional Court of Germany on March 24, 2021. For many years, “Climate change Chancellor” Angela Merkel had the opportunity to staff this court with her devoted followers. The recent ruling on the Climate Protection Act of Germany’s government will certainly set a mark in history. Although the word “climate” is nowhere to be found in the current version of the German Basic Law (= Germany’s Constitution), “climate protection” and, moreover, even the “establishment of climate neutrality” have now been virtually elevated to constitutional articles. In the view of Germany’s highest court, compliance with the “2-degree target” and, if possible, even the “1.5 -degree target” of the Paris Climate Agreement even justifies considerable state interference with the civil liberties enshrined in the Basic Law.
The first right of freedom now to be marginalized is the freedom of research and teaching, as is documented in the written opinion of court President Stephan Harbarth and his seven fellow judges in the first chamber: The Federal Constitutional Court considers itself authorized to decide on scientific questions by judgement instead of by scientific proof, as is usually the case. This might be regarded as a kind of reversion to the Middle Ages, when people who relied on their own intellect were considered as a thorn in the side of the religious and political rulers of that era. Such independent spirits dared to put into doubt everything that was put before the people by princes and priests.
In the centuries of conflict between the natural sciences on the one hand and the religious and secular elites on the other, the verdict of the Catholic Inquisition against Galileo Galilei – an outstanding founder of modern science – marked a turning point in some ways. His trial was basically about whether a subject was allowed to clarify the processes in nature through experiment and logic or whether the rulers – at that time the Catholic Church with the help of inquisition courts, which also exercised secular power up to burning at the stake or incarceration – also had the final say in this matter. After the scandalous verdict against Galileo, the church lost more and more of its prestige.
The natural sciences, on the other hand, were able to gradually assert themselves in a long, tough struggle, even though it took the Catholic Church until 1992 before Galileo Galilei was officially rehabilitated. Secular courts, on the other hand, had been much more reluctant to trying to legally “clarify” scientific questions. Customarily, it was accepted that in physics, chemistry or mathematics, neither majority opinions nor court rulings apply, but only logic, experiment and evidence.
Figure 1. Henry’s law in action: CO2 dissolved under pressure in sparkling water outgases when poured, forming bubbles (Photo: Author)
It is all the more surprising, therefore, when a secular court nowadays sets out to elevate the views of just two academic bodies to quasi-binding constitutional requirements. The first of these is the IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which for years has been presented as the world authority on climate issues. The second source of justifications for this epochal ruling is the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU). This body was staffed by the government with hand-picked specialists, all of whom hold professorial titles. They have expertise in numerous fields such as medicine, biology, waste and recycling, environmental law and research, and political science. Just one member – a physicist and geographer – has the background required to assess climate science issues. The deputy chair of the SRU is Prof. Kemfert. This telegenic economist and staunch supporter of the “climate change” narrative has been hyped up to become a media and talkshow star. Although she is presented there as highly competent in energy issues, she is de facto just a steadfast lobbyist of the solar and wind energy industry. She also occasionally attracts attention by using terms from the vocabulary of an obscure neo-Marxist sect.
Henry’s Law Declared irrelevant
The scientific victim of the Karlsruhe ruling is Henry’s Law, which hardly anyone would be able to describe if asked about it on the street. Yet its effects are well known, since it has a visible and audible effect every time one opens a bottle of sparkling water or a can of soft drinks: Gas bubbles form in the beverage over a longer period of time with an intense hissing sound. This gas is CO2, which the bottler had previously added to the beverage under high pressure, causing it to dissolve in the liquid. When the bottle is opened, this pressure drops and the CO2 is forced out of the liquid again in the form of gas bubbles.
Figure 2. This statement by the Federal Constitutional Court contradicts Henry’s Law
Henry’s law also explains why fish suffocate in midsummer because the oxygen content of warming water drops below the minimum threshold, or why divers can suffer severe health damage from nitrogen bubbles in their blood when they surface too quickly.
Figure 3. Henry recognized that there is a constant exchange of gas molecules at the interface of water with the air, resulting in an equilibrium between the “internal pressure” of the gas in the liquid and its partial pressure in the atmosphere (Graphic: Author)
The basics of Henry’s law are easy to grasp: The interface between water and air is well permeable for gas molecules, who constantly migrate from the atmosphere into the water and vice versa from the water into the atmosphere. After some time, an equilibrium is established where the number of molecules migrating in each direction per unit of time becomes equal. One can imagine the whole thing in such a way that the gas in the liquid is under an “internal pressure” which brings about a balance of its pressure share (partial pressure) in the atmosphere. If for example, the nitrogen content of the atmosphere were suddenly increased, additional nitrogen would dissolve in the water until a new equilibrium is restored. This law also applies to all other gases in the atmosphere. The results can be calculated quite simply with the help of the so-called Henry constant.
These relationships were recognized and scientifically investigated as early as 1802/03 by the English physician and chemist William Henry (1774 to 1836). Henry’s law describes the influence of pressures and temperatures on the quantity of gases dissolved in water. He probably never imagined that his findings would be challenged by top courts in faraway Europe more than 200 years later. But exactly that happened in Karlsruhe.
Figure 4. This court statement too contradicts the findings of William Henry.
Key statements of the Karlsruhe ruling
Crucial statements in the Karlsruhe ruling are:
– Only small portions of anthropogenic emissions are absorbed by the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere…
– The large remainder of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, however, remains in the atmosphere over the long term, accumulates, contributes to the increase of the CO2 concentration and thus has an effect on the temperature of the earth.
– Unlike other greenhouse gases, CO2 does not leave the Earth’s atmosphere naturally over a period of time that is relevant to humanity. Every additional quantity of CO2 that enters the Earth’s atmosphere and is not artificially removed from it….therefore permanently increases its CO2 concentration and leads to a further rise in temperature.
The more water there is, the more gas it can hold
The ratio of the total amounts of a particular gas in the atmosphere and in the ocean depends on the total amounts of it in the water and in the atmosphere. This is easy to understand: If you increase the amount of water, you also increase the amount of gas it must absorb to restore pressure equilibrium, given the same pressure and temperature conditions. Since our oceans are huge in relation to the atmosphere, they contain many times more gas than the atmosphere itself.
Figure 5. The more water there is, the greater the amount of gas that must dissolve into the oceans until equilibrium is restored (Graphics: Author)
Figure 6. With its statement, the Karlsruhe court is in contradiction not only to Henry’s law, but also to findings e.g. made by the NOAA (US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Organization)
Since it is known what quantities of CO2 are contained in the atmosphere and in the ocean, respectively, it is quite easy to calculate, assuming constant temperature and air pressure conditions, what fractions of an additional amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere by humans will remain in the atmosphere and how much of it will dissolve in the ocean. In 2008, the Earth’s atmosphere contained an approximate 3,000 gigatons of CO2 (1 gigaton = 1 billion tons). The equilibrium amount of CO2 dissolved in the oceans is about 140,000 gigatons, about a factor of 50 higher. This results in a ratio of 98 to 2. According to Henry’ Law, therefore, of each additional ton of CO2 introduced into the atmosphere, about 98% or 980 kg will be permanently dissolved in the oceans. Claims about a climate catastrophe due to humans “littering of the atmosphere with CO2” resulting in a “self-immolation” of humanity as well as any calculations of “CO2 residual budgets” based on this false claim contradict elementary scientific findings. This misjudgement is also at the base of the recent judgement of a Dutch court against Shell. And more lawsuits of this caliber are underway thought Europe.
Figure 7: The exchange of CO2 between the ocean and the atmosphere is evaluated quite differently by scientists such as Prof. Andrew Watson than by the German Federal Constitutional Court, which, however, has given its interpretation quasi-constitutional status.