16 October 2010

The German Sceptics

I recently went through a little clash with the German climate sceptics scene, which was quite interesting. It may be difficult to follow the details for those who do not speak German, but you may still get a taste of the current "climate" in Germany.

The starting point were an article of and interview with Horst-Joachim Luedecke in a regional newspaper in southwestern Germany (Badische Neueste Nachrichten) in August. The tone of these contributions was that anthropogenic climate change is, if at all real, not significant and does not justify any expensive counter measures. Such opinions are not new, but what annoyed us at the Institute of Environmental Physics in Heidelberg was that the characterisation of Luedecke as a "retired physics professor from Heidelberg" suggested a link to our department. Luedecke is a retired professor and lives in Heidelberg, but has nothing to do with us. Hence we issued a public statement through the PR-office of the university, stating that the anthropogenic influence on climate was real and offering our expertise to the press and public as a more reliable source of information on climate change.

Of course, this statement did not fail to raise angry reactions by other German climate sceptics and I went through some rather fruitless e-mail exchanges. Luedecke issued a reply on "his" EIKE-website (see below), which contains all the original documents. The final result is that I gained a better impression of the German sceptics scene, which I'd like to share here. Luedecke is a speaker of the so called "European Institute for Climate and Energy" (EIKE), founded in 2007. Sounds good but it is just an association of German sceptics. As Luedecke explained to me, EIKE is very open-minded in terms of views of its members - as long as they fight the theory of anthropogenic climate change and oppose measures of climate protection.

As a result, EIKE publishes a wide spectrum of climate sceptic views on its website. Luedecke himself is quite moderate and argues on a scientific level. He has a little paper on the physical basis of the greenhouse effect buried somewhere on the EIKE site, which is quite good except for the last part, where he selects only those few studies (e.g. by Richard Lindzen) that suggest a negative rather than a positive feedback on the CO2-effect, thus denying a significant anthropogenic influence on climate. Luedecke has also published a book on "CO2 and climate protection". I haven't read that so I can't comment.

However, there is also lots of highly dubious material on the EIKE site. If you follow the publications link on the page you find contributions by some interesting German climate sceptics, such as the recently deceased Ernst-Georg Beck, who essentially disputes that there is an anthropogenic CO2 increase, or Gerhard Stehlik, wo has weird theories on his own on the greenhouse effect. Unfortunately, his paper on this matter which he sent me some years ago is not available on his website anymore (dead link). And you find of course the quite widely known paper of Gerlich and Tscheuschner, who maintain that the greenhouse theory violates the second law of thermodynamics and who have been refuted many times (also see Globalklima). And in its advisory board, EIKE has among others my old critic Lord Christopher Monckton Viscount of Brenchley. I'm impressed!

The EIKE site is a caleidoscope of climate scepticism from the German perspective. If you understand German and are interested in the unplumbed depths of the human mind, enjoy!