Climatology—Science or Ideology?

Published: 2003-05-01

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Most readers will probably not realize that there is a German award for ideology-free scientific research, known as the Woitschach Prize for Research. Certain media have mentioned that, in 1999, this prize was awarded to Dr. Wolfgang Thüne, a man who has a Masters degree in meteorology, for his book Der Treibhaus-Schwindel (The Greenhouse Hoax).[1] At first glance, it would appear that the notion of ideology-free science constitutes a pleonasm. However, the sponsors of the prize did indeed have an eye on reality. A look towards the past, into history, will also teach us that science has often been under the influence of ideology, and still is today. This is especially true for historiography,[2] a field in which ideologists frequently appear in the disguise of (self-proclaimed) scientists, or merely employ-somewhat selectively-the results of scientific work. A precarious position is occupied by all those scientists who need financial funding for their work, which they receive only as long as they work in line with the ideas of their sponsors.

What, now, is the matter with the "Greenhouse Hoax"? As everyone knows, the "Greenhouse Effect" is nowadays legal tender in the realm of the leading climate researchers, ecologists, and-last but not least-politicians who are involved in environmental matters and matters of energy. Our dictionaries have incorporated this modern word and define it for example as follows:[3]

"Heating of planetary atmospheres by the radiation of sunlight, if heat radiation towards the universe is impeded by trace gases such as carbon dioxide."

In his book "Der Treibhaus-Schwindel (The Greenhouse Hoax)", published in March 1998, Dr. Thüne has proved that this effect does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.[4] The only established fact is the purely statistical finding that, from around 1860 onward, the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the air has gone up in toto, from 0.028 to 0.035 percent by volume.[5] One is struck by the observation that the media generally refer to the more spectacular increase of 30% in the CO2-content. Statistical data also confirm the increase of the average global temperature by 0.7°C over the same period. Clever "climate experts" have now deduced a nexus between these data, claiming that the man-made (anthropogenic) increase in CO2 is the cause of the rise in temperature observed.

Title page of Germany's leading political magazine Der Spiegel, August 11, 1986: Cologne Cathedral submerged by ocean waters.

On the basis of this theory, the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft e.V. (German physical society) first addressed the public in 1986 with the warning of an impending "climatic catastrophe"; the "Greenhouse Effect" was born. True to the journalists' creed that only bad news is 'good' news, writers were eager to seize upon this doomsday-scenario. The title page of the German weekly Der Spiegel at the time even showed Cologne cathedral being covered by the waters released by the polar ice-caps melting as a consequence of the predicted rise in the lower atmosphere's temperature.[6]

Inspired by their belief in a connection between rise in carbon dioxide and increase in temperature, climatologists embarked upon the search for a fitting theory, according to which the so-called trace gases (mainly water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and laughing gas) absorb the radiation emitted by the earth's surface towards space. This phenomenon was named "counter-radiation", later dubbed "greenhouse effect" by the media, in view of the more impressive nature of this word. Action was concentrated upon carbon dioxide, because it had increased by 30% over the last 140 years, i.e., since the beginning of industrialization. It is taken for granted that the cause of temperature increase is the combustion of fossil fuels for industrial and private processes (generation of power and heat, traffic etc.). Thüne's book argues against such a relationship.

Any book on physics tells us that heat radiation consists of electromagnetic waves in a wavelength range between 0.8 µm and 100 µm (infrared radiation). In addition to visible light with its shorter wavelengths (0.45-0.75 µm), the range between 0.8 µm[7] and 3 µm is still part of solar radiation. The radiation emitted by the earth is in the range between 5 µm and 60 µm. In line with all other electromagnetic waves, heat radiation travels with the speed of light (300 000 km per second). Thermal photography of the earth's surface makes use of the specific radiation from earth, which allows us to identify and interpret differences (due to land structure or land use) in the surface temperature. The range of wavelengths available for such remote observation lies between 7 µm and 13 µm and constitutes a permanently open radiation window, unobstructed by CO2 gas as claimed by the "greenhouse"-theorists.

As has been stated correctly by the German parliamentary commission "Precaution for Protection of the Earth's Atmosphere", trace gases in the earth's atmosphere absorb infrared emissions emitted from the earth's surface intensively in most wavelength ranges, but only minimally in some, as for example in the range from 7 to 13 µm. It is within this range, however, where we find the greatest portion of radiation emitted by the earth. This range is, therefore, called "open radiation window," because it is here that the least amount of absorption by water vapor and CO2 takes place. This window allows 70 to 90 % of the radiation from the earth to escape into space. The statement by the commission is thus correct. However, quite unexpectedly, the report continues further on by saying:

"The greenhouse effect due to CO2 is caused essentially by its absorption band at 15 µm."

It is precisely at this point that opinions diverge, for when one has recourse to "Wien's law of displacement", a wavelength of maximal emission lmax of 15 µm yields a temperature of minus 73°C of the emitter. With this "counter-radiation" it is, however, impossible to heat the earth's surface with its average "global temperature" of plus 15°C. It should be noted that all major "climate experts" collaborated in the report of this commission.

As everyone knows, a cloudless night sky leads to a strong cooling of the earth's surface, the sun's radiation taken up during the day being returned to the universe during the night as "temperature radiation." Doctor Thüne says in his paper:[8]

"The CO2 molecules in particular, with their absorption bands at 2.8 µm, 4.5 µm, and 15 µm, which are as characteristic and as unchangeable as a human fingerprint, have no effect on the daily course of temperature, because they cannot close the "open radiation window" between 7 and 13 µm. This would be valid even if the earth were surrounded by an atmosphere of pure carbon dioxide."

Fundamentally, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, heat will flow only from a hot body to a cold one (in this case the universe). The "greenhouse effect" is thus only an illusion, and it is absurd to designate CO2 as a "greenhouse gas." Carbon dioxide is neither a glass roof nor does it reflect the heat radiation from earth. Even a greenhouse cools down during the night and must be heated during the winter months. The warming effect consists only in its ability to store the radiation it receives by preventing horizontal and vertical movements of the air. The glass walls do not prevent it from cooling down overnight on account of the radiation it gives off. It is thus unrealistic to attribute to CO2 the power to cause a "greenhouse effect" and the reduction of CO2-emissions, demanded by "climate experts," is without any scientific foundation.

Fig.1: Radiation model of the "greenhouse" theorists

Fig. 2: Radiation model according to Dr. Thüne

As opposed to this argument, the established climate researchers explain the "greenhouse effect" as follows:

"Without an atmosphere, the earth's surface would be at an equilibrium temperature of minus 18°C. In reality, the air temperature near the ground is, however, plus 15°C, the difference of 33°C being due to the trace gases [!] with their effect on climate. As an analogy, let us imagine a glass pane placed between the sun and the earth's surface. The glass allows the incident radiation from the sun to pass nearly unimpeded towards the earth, but absorbs part of the radiation emitted from the earth, itself radiating heat in both directions: towards the earth and towards the universe. This increases the radiation balance of the earth's surface, because the additional energy stemming from the glass pane is almost totally absorbed at the surface of the earth and provokes an increase in the heating up of the surface of the earth."

Anyone who does not understand or who cannot believe this, can read up on the details in an expert paper.[9]

"Climate" is the average state of the atmosphere and its characteristic weather phenomena of a certain region, measured over a certain period of time. A "global climate" as construed by the "climate researchers" is as artificial a statistical notion as the so-called average world temperature. Both "values" have always been subject to unexplainable variations. Polar ice-core investigations have revealed that between around 860 and 1860, the infamous CO2-concentration of the air was actually constant. Strangely enough, though, "climate" throughout that period was not constant at all and showed considerable variations. For instance, between 60 BC and 600 AD we have a temperature dip, followed between 600 and 1310 AD by a higher temperature level, with the temperature in the North Atlantic region rising by 1.2°C. No explanation for this rise has so far been found. In the year 1200 AD, temperatures reached their maximum. Between 1310 and 1860 AD the so-called "Little Ice-Age" occurred. From the middle of the 19th century on, average temperatures have been rising in an irregular fashion. Clever "climate researchers" have been quick to attribute this to the CO2-increase caused by modern industrial society.

This "problem" is permanently on the agendas of the well-known conferences on climate change, also called "climate summits." The following such meetings have been held so far: Rio de Janeiro 1992, Berlin 1995, Kyoto 1997, Buenos Aires 1998, Bonn 1999, Den Haag/Bonn 2000/2001, Marrakech 2001. The objective has been to achieve a worldwide reduction of the emission of "greenhouse gases", CO2 in particular. In Kyoto, it was agreed that the industrial nations would reduce CO2 emissions by 5.2% by 2012, as based on 1990 figures. In Buenos Aires, one could agree only upon an activity plan for the next two years, allowing various flexible mechanisms to fulfill the norms in addition to individual national efforts. The industrialized nations were granted the right to trade in emission rights and emission duties or to be credited for investments aimed at climate protection in other countries. This amounts to a commercialization of the 'problem,' including a full-scale trade in 'indulgences.' The "Buenos Aires Action Plan", as voted, contained a mandatory timetable for the clarification of any open questions by the end of 2000. A total of 60 nations had voted for this protocol. The convention was to become effective, however, only when ratified by 55 nations, provided that these states were responsible for at least 55% of all emissions. With 25% of all emissions occurring in the USA, ratification by the US Congress would have been crucial.

Cover of the book "Der Treibhaus-Schwindel" (The Greenhouse Hoax) by Wolfgang Thüne. The "Greenhouse Theory" in shambles.

If the climate convention of the United Nations were to become a reality, enormous bureaucracies would have to be established at the UN and in every individual country to organize, coordinate, and regulate matters-a massive effort, to be financed, of course, by the tax-payer or the consumer. Remember Parkinson's Laws!

The "international community", with its adoption of the UN-climate convention at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, has recognized the existence of an additional "greenhouse effect" caused by man (i.e. anthropogenic) and having a "self-evident nature." Since that time, "recalcitrant" individuals who disregard the welfare of mankind as a whole may be labeled quite officially as "liars." The discussion of the energy policy of the future- bears the imprint of Max Horkheimer's "critical theory" and its postulate of the "social duty of science." Thus, this branch of science has also been gobbled up by both politicians and ideologists. We are waiting for legal action to be brought to bear against "recalcitrant revisionists" in the area of climatology. Obviously, a new law would need to be added to the Penal Code covering such things as "negation or verbal minimization of the greenhouse effect."

Surprising and frightening at the same time is the solid front of leading organizations to have adopted the new theory: Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology (MPI-Met.), German Physical Society (DPG), German Meteorological society (DMG), as well as university institutes for meteorology and geophysics. Apparently, the major incentive seems to be the abundant sources of money that the state is providing for research in this area. Meanwhile, the said effect has been raised to the level of an axiom, for example if we read in relevant publications:

"It is well known (!) that the greenhouse effect is caused by trace gases, CO2 in particular, which absorb the heat radiated from the surface of the earth."

Invariably, such authors invoke the broad consensus among scientists as "proof" of their theory. Does history not teach us, though, that revisionists who acted up against established teachings and helped new visions to be promoted were in general a minority or even a minority of one? The majority principle as applied in a democracy cannot seriously be used here to prove a point. We note with some alarm and a greater dose of suspicion the hectic activity exhibited by established institutions at the sight of Dr. Thüne's first publications. Once his book appeared, insults and defamations voiced against the author became widespread. The German Meteorological Society had nothing better to do than to recommend to its member that he leaves the society, his membership record of 30 years notwithstanding.

Aroused by Thüne's attacks, the camp of established climatologists appears at least to start having second thoughts about the validity of their theory. While it was heretofore accepted dogma that the warming noted since 1860 was anthropogenic in nature, the Max-Planck-Institute Report no. 287 withdrew from such a position quietly-i.e. without a major press conference-and almost completely. It stated that the CO2-concentration in the atmosphere had been, for all intents and purposes, constant over the last 8000 years, in spite of considerable variations in temperature over this period.[10] One starts hearing doubtful statements such as:[11]

"It is, however, difficult to live with uncertainty and so a lack of knowledge is often replaced by convictions. The only certainty about this unique global experiment launched by mankind is that its final issue is uncertain."

We note the admission of such self-doubts with some satisfaction.

Title page of the Book "Acquittal for CO2," by Wolfgang Thüne

With all this taking place, the German energy suppliers are finding themselves in a bind. If Dr. Thüne's assumption is correct, namely that the nuclear power plant lobby eagerly seized upon the greenhouse theory in order to instill new life into nuclear energy, the promoters of such a strategy seem not to have taken into account the fact that politicians in Germany nowadays have to reckon with the Greens. Since the Greens, however, are absolutely hostile to nuclear energy, the energy supply industry is now in the defensive on both fronts, nuclear as well as fossil.

With the advancing liberalization of the German energy market and the parallel imposition of the obligation to accept energy transmission via their power grids by foreign third parties, the energy supply firms might have to fall back on trading the cheapest energies available in other European countries, such as electricity from Polish coal or nuclear power from France-certainly not very palatable alternatives for ecologists or established climatologists. We can only recommend to the energy industry who have become, in a way, the prisoners of "climate protectors" to start reviewing seriously and critically the crumbling CO2-theory and no longer to ignore the counter-arguments. This could lead to substantial savings in obviously nonsensical 'ecological' investments that they now have to make.

Similar recommendations can be made to politicians, who are known to be very biased to ideological constructs. The "Ecotax", invented by the united Red-and-Green front in Germany, would lose its justification to a large degree, to the tax-payer's great delight.[12]

Last, but not least, scientists who are now stuck in the blind alley of a dubious theory should face up to an honest dialogue with their opponents. A book entitled The Greenhouse Hoax may sound to them like a provocation, but they should realize that this slogan is only an understandable reaction to the myth of an impending "climatic catastrophe" they themselves have launched.

Totally unperturbed by such fundamental considerations, some 5,000 delegates from 166 countries gathered in Bonn in October 1999. The main topic of dispute was the implementation of the decisions arrived at in the Kyoto agreement regarding the reduction of that most important "greenhouse gas", carbon dioxide. All manner of technicalities were discussed, such as the trade in emission credits (bonuses for CO2-sinks in the form of forests and agricultural areas), measurement of the limits imposed, recognition of climate protection measures in developing countries, investments in countries of Eastern Europe reforming their economies, etc. No breakthrough was achieved, however, because positions with respect to the instruments of implementation differed too strongly.

After another climate summit at The Hague in November 2000 landed on the rocks, talks were taken up again at Bonn in July 2001 with 178 nations participating in the effort to come to terms with the Kyoto protocol, i.e., to achieve a worldwide reduction of CO2-emissions by 5.2% as compared to 1990 and a participation of at least 55 states responsible for at least 55% of total emissions.

By that time, the USA had announced-to the horror of most of the other participants-their withdrawal from the climate debate.[13],[14] Japan, Canada, Australia, and Russia demanded concessions with respect to credits for CO2-sinks. Japan viewed the surveillance measures and the exclusion of nuclear projects as unacceptable. In the end, the conference was on the verge of collapse, and environmental freaks conjured once more the threat of a "climate catastrophe." In an effort to save the Kyoto protocol by any means, a "limping" compromise was arrived at, but no valid solution was achieved. The result was a global reduction of 1.8% in CO2-emissions, instead of the original goal of 5.2 percent.

Environmental activists showed their dissatisfaction with the emasculation of the Kyoto protocol by dragging a lifeboat through the streets of Bonn, carrying the slogan "After Bush the deluge." This "funeral procession" was led by an activist disguised as George Bush and by an "Uncle Sam" turned into a skeleton with a scythe-the USA were declared Environmental Enemy Number One. Thus, this meeting achieved a mere semblance of success, and specialists opined: "The job is only just starting." The next round of the whistle-stopping climate summit took place in October 2001 at Marrakech, Morocco. There, 167 ministers of the environment arrived at a minimum consensus aimed at averting a "global collapse" of climate protection. Meanwhile, CO2-emissions worldwide went up, not down, by 8% in the year 2000, a far cry from what was originally envisaged. The meeting agreed on mandatory sanctions against "climate sinners" and on a quantification of forest resources and agricultural areas. This compromise closed the summit.

The latest UN-sponsored function on climate and environmental protection took place from 29 August through 4 September 2002 at Johannesburg (RSA) under the name of "World Summit for Sustainable Development" (WSSD). This mammoth-like meeting attracted 60,000 participants, among whom one counted 100 heads of state or heads of government. It was a "summit of the least common denominator", the accountants of national interests having attained the upper hand over the visionaries of sustainable development. A celebration to mark the coming into force of the Kyoto protocol had to be cancelled, because the Russian Duma had not yet ratified the paper. All participating nations managed at least to accept the engagement towards reducing the "greenhouse gases detrimental to climate" such as carbon dioxide. The agreement is to come into force by the end of the year 2002.

In the meantime, violent inundations swept through Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, pouring water on the mills of climate ideologists who took it as tantamount to 'proof' of a change in climate caused by man. The German federal elections in 2002 allowed the Greens to capitalize on these events and to increase their votes.

On the other hand, voices critical of "climate protection" have become louder recently, particularly in letters to newspaper editors, but also in the form of books on the subject written by independent scientists and journalists who do, thank God, still exist.[15],[16] The author mentioned above, Dr. Wolfgang Thüne, came out with a second book in May, 2002, entitled An Acquittal for CO2 and consciously destined to break a taboo and to focus more strongly on reality.[17]

A "mature citizen" looking at these publications beyond the mainstream must wonder why such voices remain generally unheard. The reasons have been outlined above. Let's face it: panic is a boon for the shapers of opinions and for politicians. In addition, the end of the Cold War called for a new field of activity in which politicians, environmentalists, and researchers might find employment. The "greenhouse effect" has by now become the bread-and-butter of our journalists, and the State finds the hauling-in of an "Eco-levy" easy going. The motto is: "CO2-End of the World as a Source of Revenue."[18] The German federal ministries for economics and for construction have already given way to "climate protection" and have become active in this regard. New regulations for existing heating systems are to reduce "pollution by carbon dioxide." While it may make sense to increase the efficiency of combustion plants, the reduction of CO2 is only a side effect and in no way a contribution to the "improvement of our climate." Aside from energy resources, only our purse reaps a benefit from such actions. The energy industry is now trying to encourage consumers to buy energy-saving appliances with the misleading slogan "climate protection pays off."

Once the critical citizen has seen through the mad activity in this field and has recognized the vanity of the climate debate, he needs no longer worry about the future of mother earth and can turn to more important matters. In doing so, he is only subject to the whims of the weather with which he knows by ex-

perience how to cope. There is no such thing as "climate," the notion has been abstracted mathematically from our weather. Anyone claiming to be able to change climate ought logically to be in a position to influence our weather. This, however, is something that man will never achieve, neither by reducing CO2-emissions nor by any kind of sophisticated "climate research." It follows without fail that man will never change climate, and that "climate protection" is sheer illusion.


[1] W. Thüne, "Das Klima im Dilemma", Rheinischer Merkur, May 28, 1999.
[2] Quotation from Bertold Brecht (1898-1956): "Immer noch schreibt der Sieger die Geschichte des Besiegten.... Aus der Welt geht der Schwächere und zurück bleibt die Lüge." / The victor still writes the history of the vanquished... The weaker leaves the world, and what remains is the lie.
[3] Knaurs Lexikon 1993.
[4] W. Thüne, Der Treibhaus-Schwindel, Wirtschaftsverlag Discovery Press, Saarbrücken 1999; it can be purchased from the author: Wormser Str. 22, D-55276 Oppenheim, Fax ++49-6133-933 796;
[5] CO2 as a normal part of air; it is a colorless, odorless and chemically almost inert gas. It is indespensible for the growth of plants. They use it to synthesize carbohydrates from it with the help of water and sunlight (assimilation). Carbohydrates, in turn, are indespensible for the nutrition of humans and animals.
[6] Der Spiegel, Aug. 11, 1986: "Die Klimakatastrophe - Polschmelze, Treibhaus-Effekt: Forscher warnen" (Climate catastrophe-polar melting, greenhouse effect: researchers warn)
[7] One micrometer (µm) is a millionth part of a meter, a thousandth part of a millimeter.
[8] W. Thüne, "Wettersatelliten widerlegen Treibhaus-These", (weather satellites refute greenhouse theory) VDI-Nachrichten, Nov.11, 1998:
[9] Christian-D. Schönwiese/Bernd Dieckmann, Der Treibhauseffekt. Der Mensch ändert das Klima, Rowohlt, Reinbeck 1989.
[10] W. Thüne, "Newtons Gesetze widerlegen den Treibhauseffekt", (Newton's laws refute greenhaus effect) geospektrum, 5/99, Zeitschrift der Alfred-Wegener-Stiftung (AWS), Berlin.
[11] Klaus Hasselmann, "Was verstehen wir vom Klima?" (What do we understand about climate?), VDI-Nachrichten, June 11, 1999
[12] W. Thüne, "Klimakatastrophe durch Öko-Steuer" (climate catastrophe by eco-tax), Brennstoffspiegel, 11/2000
[13] W. Thüne, "Bush hat Recht" (Bush is right), Brennstoffspiegel, 7/2001
[14] W. Thüne, "Der 'natürliche' Treibhauseffekt" (The 'natural' greenhouse effect), Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, issue 2/2001
[15] Ulrich Berner, Klimafakten. Der Rückblick - ein Schlüssel für die Zukunft, Ehlers Verlag.
[16] Manfred J.W. Müller, Klimalüge? Wissenschaft - Politik - Zeitgeist, Eneri Verlag.
[17] W. Thüne, Freispruch für CO2. Wie ein Molekül die Phantasien von Experten gleichschaltet, edition steinherz, Wiesbaden, 2002.
[18] Headline of a chapter in the book by Günter Ederer, Die Sehnsucht nach einer verlogenen Welt, C. Bertelsmann Verlag 2000.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Oswald Nettesheim
Title: Climatology—Science or Ideology?
Sources: The Revisionist 1(2) (2003), pp. 131-135
Published: 2003-05-01
First posted on CODOH: June 11, 2012, 7 p.m.
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