Solar Shift Rocks Germany
He was the best-known environmentalist in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Now, even Fritz Vahrenholt no longer believes in the predictions of global warming.
Every year hundreds of thousands of Christians leave the church. This hardly causes a stir. But if a bishop falls from faith, it is a bang. Quite similar is the case with the belief in a climate catastrophe. Only 31 percent of Germans are still afraid of global warming. In 2006 it was exactly twice as many. And now a heavy weight has reinforced the ranks of the non-believers. Vahrenholt, one of the fathers of the German environmental movement, no longer trusts the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And neither does he accept the scenarios of the Potsdam Institute which has been raising the alarm about the climate change for years and advises Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Minister for the Environment and.
Vahrenholt still accepts the consensus that the world has warmed by 0.8 degrees Celsius in the 20th century. Not, however, the forecasts of massive further increases in warming. “Until two years ago,” he says, “I believed the IPCC and represented its recommendations in my lectures.” Doubts came to him when he was a reviewer of the IPCC report on renewable energies. “I discovered many errors and asked myself if the other IPCC reports were similarly inadequate.”
At the same time, the fact that, contrary to the predictions, the average global temperature has not risen for more than a decade made him ponder. Vahrenholt wondered if man-made greenhouse gases are really the most important factor in the climate system. After talking with dozens of scientists, he considers the influence of the sun to be underestimated. Finally, Vahrenholt cast doubt that warming is fundamentally bad for people and nature.
The release of e-mails, which revealed that leading climate scientists wanted to hide inconsistent research findings, also left him puzzled. His confidence was completely shattered as it turned out that the so-called hockey stick curve was manipulated. This graph plays a major role in Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth”. It should demonstrate that recent warming advances more dramatic than any historical warm periods previously.
Next week, Vahrenholt, together with the geologist and paleontologist Sebastian Lüning, will present his collected doubts in book form. The book’s title: “The cold sun.” For months, rumors have been circulating about the upcoming release. The publishers Hoffmann und Campe is keeping the manuscript secret until publication. But when Vahrenholt held a lecture at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences a few days ago, it became clear that it was a general payback with the IPCC, the Potsdam Institute and Angela Merkel’s energy policy. Even in personal conversations, the 62-year-old makes no bones about it. “I couldn’t take it any more ,” he says, “I had to write this book.” His criticisms is not new. They have been presented by many scientists. But in politics, it is less a matter of what is said but rather who says it. For decades, Vahrenholt has been the most prominent environmentalists in Germany’s Social Democratic Party, alongside Erhard Eppler, who wrote the preface to his first major bestseller, “Seveso is everywhere” – a book that many today still remember. The book about “the deadly risks of Chemistry” appeared 1978. It was one of the books, which supplied arguments for the emerging environmental movement. Vahrenholt thus became the most prominent critic of the chemical industry. In the 1990s, the SPD made him Environment senator of the state of Hamburg.
Doubters like him have been often accused to represent the interests of coal and petroleum industries. This accusation will not bother Vahrenholt. Since 2001 he has worked for companies that earn their money with renewable energy, first for Repower Systems, a leading manufacturer of wind turbines. Since 2008 for Innogy, the largest German investor in renewable energy. The RWE subsidiary invested over one billion Euros annually in CO2-free electricity. Accordingly, it would be in his interest to celebrate the transformation of energy by the Federal Government.
However, he does the opposite.”The promotion of photovoltaics is madness,” he said in Munich. “It is the most uneconomic form of climate protection.” He still considers wind power to be reasonable. But his earlier euphoria was dampened, as he experienced in 2008 and 2009 that the wind sometimes pauses for weeks in Central Europe. He began to learn about cyclical fluctuations in air pressure, which exert a strong influence on the wind patterns and the climate.
A second natural factor, which Vahrenholt holds for at least as important as carbon dioxide (CO2), is solar activity. The work of the Danish researcher Henrik Svensmark and other climate scientists convinced him that the fluctuating magnetic field of the sun is a driver of climate change, because it shields cyclically more or less cosmic radiation from the earth. This particle radiation from space contributes to cloud formation.
When Vahrenholt publishes his book on Monday, it remains to be seen whether established climate scientists will descend on him like they did with other critics in the past. However, there are signs that even in the Potsdam Institute there is now gnawing doubt
Differing from earlier predictions, the head of the Institute, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, admitted a few days ago at a seminar of international agricultural experts that it is quite possible that a warmer climate in combination with a further increase of atmospheric CO2 levels would lead to more plant growth and better harvests. A few days later, his deputy Ottmar Edenhofer, surprised journalists at a press conference in Muinch, which he held jointly with Vahrenholt. The sceptic said that it had not warmed for over a decade and would rather cool in the future. Edenhofer did not contradict him, even when asked.
Translation Phillip Mueller