Climate scepticism has now gained a firm foothold in various European countries.
In Denmark Bjørn Lomborg stands out as the single most important sceptical environmental¬ist, defying the political correctness which is such a characteristic feature of his home country, as well as other Nordic countries. But wait! Bjørn Lomborg is not a genuine climate sceptic. Real climate sceptics admire his courage, his scientific rigour and debating skills, but beg to disagree with him on the fundamentals of climate science. Lomborg acknowledges that there is such a thing as man-made global warming, which is quite in line with the mantra of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). He ‘only’ challenges the cost benefit relationships of the policy meas¬ures, which have been proposed to do something about it. Massive expenditures (often euphemistically called ‘investments’) in exchange for undetectable returns. Real climate sceptics do not accept the man-made global warming hypothesis. They are of the opinion that the human contribution to global warming over the last century or so is at most insignificant. But, of course, they are happy with the arguments advanced by Bjørn Lomborg to bolster their case against climate hysteria.
In Germany EIKE (Europäisches Institut für Klima und Energie, Jena: http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/) has been established – still in its infancy, but nevertheless. Moreover, a group of German climate sceptics has written something which could be called a consensus among many climate sceptics: Climate Manifest of Heiligenroth (See: http://www.klimamanifest-von-heiligenroth.de/klimaman-e.html). Furthermore there are many climate sceptical websites in Germany. For those who like visual thrills and possess a basic command of the German language, Konrad Fischer’s website might be fun: ‘Videos and films concerning the greenhouse swindle and climate terror’ (http://www.konrad-fischer-info.de/7video.htm)
But the AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) belief is still overwhelming in Germany. In newspapers and on TV, Stefan Rahmstorf, the German climate Torquemada, — comparable to Al Gore in the US, George Monbiot in the UK and David Suzuki in Canada — are constantly attacking critics of the AGW hypothesis. Contrary to good scientific practice, he lavishly lards his interventions with ad hominem attacks and insinuations that his opponents lack qualifications and/or are being paid by industry. Although decades of pro AGW indoctrination has left its mark on the German psyche, even true believers are becoming fed up with him.
In Sweden, despite its high standards of political correctness, there is a very vocal group of climate sceptics, which regularly publish in ‘Elbranchen’. In September 2006 they organised a seminar: ‘Global Warming – Scientific Controversies in Climate Variability’. This meeting was hosted by the Royal Technical High School in Stockholm and chaired by its rector, Peter Stilbs (See: http://gamma.physchem.kth.se/~climate/). Even Swedish TV has aired a debate on the issue. For those who have some command of the Scandinavian languages, see: http://webbtv.axess.se/index.aspx?id=229: Veckans Debatt: Global uppvärming: Vad säger vetenskapen?
In Italy the Bruno Leoni Institute has espoused climate scepticism (http://www.brunoleoni.it/). In Spain, the foundation Rafael del Pino has paid attention to climate scepticism in the past, but because of social and political pressure it has felt forced to keep a low profile on this issue over the last few years. (http://www.libertaddigital.com/index.php?action=desaopi&cpn=25151) In the French-speaking part of Europe, individual scientists such as as Marcel Leroux could be mentioned. Moreover, the Molinari Institute has joined the cause of climate scepticism (http://www.institutmolinari.org/index.htm). In the Czech Republic, President Vaclav Havel is single-handedly attempting to instil some common sense into public opinion. In Austria the Hayek Institute carries the torch (http://www.hayek-institut.at/english/1183/termine/article/hayek/2035/), while Estonia is represented by Olavi Kärner (http://www.aai.ee/~olavi/).
In my own country, the Netherlands, the situation has markedly improved. In line with the tradition of consensus-seeking, it has been possible to establish something close to a real dialogue between AGW adherents and the climate sceptics. Personally, I have even been invited by the Nether¬lands Royal Meteorological Institute (KNMI) to become expert reviewer of the IPCC. As such, I have submitted many fundamental criticisms on the draft texts of the Fourth Assessment Re¬port of the Panel (AR4). What happened to my comments? To be honest, I have not the faintest idea. Most probably, nothing at all.
Nevertheless, in my capacity as expert reviewer of the IPCC, I have also received (a tiny) part of the Nobel price, which has been awarded to Al Gore and the IPCC (yes, thanks for your congratulations). Should I be grateful? I don’t think so. Both ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and the latest IPCC report labour under cherry-picking, spindoctoring and scare-mongering (Al Gore’s movie more than the IPCC reports). Awarding the Nobel price for such flawed science is a disgrace. But it should be recalled that the Nobel Prize for Peace is being awarded by a group of (five) Norwegian politicians and not by the Swedish Academy of Science, which is always scrupulously investigating the merits of the candidates. The Norwegians are piggybacking on the reputation of the Nobel prizes for science and literature. The method of electing the winner of the Peace prize ensures a political outcome reflecting the current strength of Norwegian political parties. Four out of five members of the parliamentary committee that selected Gore are former cabinet members. The fifth, Mjoes, was president of the University of Tromso. So the Democrat Gore owes his prize to a constellation of Progressives, Social and Christian Democrats and Green socialists. Little wonder Francis Sejersted, past chairman of the committee, admits: ‘Awarding a peace prize is, to put it bluntly, a political act.’
Russian scientists are criticising very openly the AGW hypothesis. They do it with a frankness which – in this particular field – is still rare in the ‘free world’. Usually scientists shroud their statements in clouds of caveats. Even the IPCC follows this tradition to a certain extent. But Russian climatologists do not. They simply state that a new little ice age is imminent. Not so long ago it was astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg, who declared that the Earth will experience a ‘mini Ice Age’ in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity. Now it is the climatologist Olech Sorochtin, member of the Russian Academy of Physical Science, who joins him. His message was prominently disseminated by the Russian press agency Novosti, which in the period of the Cold War was generally considered to be a mouthpiece of the Kremlin. (http://de.rian.ru/analysis/20071009/83073114.html). Therefore, it is perhaps not too far-fetched to speculate that this might be a warning signal that the Russians will drop out of Kyoto when its first phase expires in 2012.
But Britannia rules the waves. Stewart Dimmock, a Kent lorry driver and school governor, took the government to court for sending copies of Gore’s film to schools. He was backed by a group of campaigners, including Viscount Monckton, a former adviser to Mrs Thatcher. They won a legal victory against ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Mr Justice Burton ruled that the movie contained at least nine scientific errors and said ministers must send new guidance to teachers before it was screened. ‘That ruling was a fantastic victory,’ said Monckton. ‘What we want to do now is send schools material reflecting an alternative point of view so that pupils can make their own minds up.’ Monckton has also won support from the maker of ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’. Martin Durkin, managing director of WAG TV, which produced the documentary, said he would be delighted for his film to go to schools. I have become a proselytiser against the so-called consensus on climate change … people can decide for themselves,’ he said.
And what about our kids? Well, they have survived the story of Santa Claus without any visible scars. Wouldn’t they survive the nonsense of man-made global warming as well?
Hans Labohm is an independent economist. Together with Dick Thoenes and Simon Rozendaal, he is co-author of ‘Man-Made Global Warming: Unravelling a Dogma’.