German media, writing in one of the “greenest” European countries, are now veering away from green energy as fast as lagging public opinion will allow. A few years ago, Germany was “fully committed” to the EU’s goal of ending fossil fuel use. It was building lots of wind turbines, and even some solar farms despite its often-cloudy skies. After the tsunami, Prime Minister Angela Merckel announced Germany would phase out its nuclear plants quickly, implying more power from renewables.
Now, Germany is burning more coal than ever, and choking on the huge set of green subsidies to which it is already committed.
The green energy retreat surely began with the end of the global warming trend after 1998. Then, beginning 2008, Germany has had four bitter winters in row. In a long-time leftist co-authored a book called The Cold Sun: Why the Climate Catastrophe Is Not Taking Place. Fritz Vahrenholt and geologist Sebastian Luning pointed up the natural 1,500-year cycle and the sun’s recent shift into a cooler phase (patterned on my best-selling Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years.)
Vahrenholt’s German timing was perfect. The high costs of “green” electricity were beginning to impact ordinary Germans. The phase-out of the nuclear threatened to deliver brown-outs. Germany’s energy intensive industries threatened to take their jobs to the Third World.
Major German news organizations spread Vahrenholt, his activist history, and his renunciation of green energy all over the country. Then, last week Der Spiegel published a story charging that the huge German re-insurance company Munich Re had been promoting fears of global warming to justify higher insurance rates. Reporter Alex Bojanowski says Munich Re “claims to have found the first proof that man-made climate change is triggering more and more weather catastrophes in North America.”
“Nowhere in the world,” claimed Munich Re, “is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. [Their study] shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America.”
Munich Re director of geo-research Peter Hoppes added: “Such a chain of evidence for the impact of climate change is unprecedented.”
However, Der Spiegel quotes Roger Pielke, Jr of the University of Colorado, whose study of U.S. tornado damage is slated to appear soon in the journal Environmental Hazards. Pielke says U.S. tornadoes since 1950 have actually caused less property damage and U.S. droughts have also been shorter and less severe over recent decades.
The journal Natural Hazards had already published a special edition (June, 2003) on extreme weather. Its experts failed to find evidence of any increase in extreme storminess during 20th century’s warming trend.
Atmospheric scientist Clifford Mass of the University of Washington is quoted saying “Most of the claims make no sense and contradict observations.” Mass warns “hyping the trend and distorting it is irresponsible.”
Bojanowski’s “news” instincts are excellent. He doesn’t attack the government-sponsored wind turbines that bid to bankrupt the average German. He attacks the corporation that is merely playing off past German green fears. Nor does he attack the UN climate panel or the climate models, which started the craze with forecasts that now appear laughable. That will surely come later, unless the temperatures defy the ongoing cooling phase of the Pacific Oscillation and start to rise sharply again.