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I have been following with interest the coverage in the media here – and discussions amongst friends and neighbours – of a highly controversial book published in German this month: “The Cold Sun: Why the Climate Catastrophe is not taking place”. The authors, Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Lüning talk down climate change and say there is no need for all the fuss. The authors suggest global temperatures are only influenced to a very small extent by CO2 emissions.  They blame “more than half” on solar activity. Now this argument is not new and has been refuted by many respectable scientists – but the hype surrounding the book might lead a lot of people to think it is. I’ve been surprised by a few people recently expressing sympathy with the climate sceptical point of view, in spite of the huge scientific consensus that climate change is happening and man-made emissions are largely to blame. Some media – including one of the big tabloids – have been fuelling the scepticism by publicising and  taking up the arguments without mentioning the scientific evidence that suggests the opposite. Other papers like the renowned weekly Die Zeit have been taking a more balanced look at the issue, listing the evidence indicating human-fuelled climate change and refuting the sceptic’s arguments. It also has to be mentioned that one of the authors Vahrenholt has very close links to the German energy giant RWE. From their point of view, a delay in the shift to renewables and lower targets for reducing CO2 emissions just might seem like a very helpful thing, say Zeit authors Frank Drieschner, Christiane Grefe and Christian Tenbrock. It remains to be seen to what extent the book and media treatment of it will affect – or not – the overall consensus here in Germany that we have to take action to combat climate change asap.



February 10, 2012 | 11:59 am