The Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change

 

“With this declaration, we outline the scale of the threat of climate change, and we provide the best possible advice,” says Brian P. Schmidt, Nobel laureate and a spokesperson for the Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change.

He continues that he feels a “moral bound duty as a scientist on an issue that has such lasting consequences.” Four Nobel Laureates met with Brian Schmidt on Thursday, one day before the signing of the declaration on Mainau island of Lake Constance on the last day of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. These five scientists discussed this threat to mankind and possible steps and solutions: Steven Chu, former US Secretary of Energy, George Smoot, David Gross, Peter Doherty, and Schmidt, a Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist.

The declaration text itself states: “If left unchecked, our ever-increasing demand for food, water, and energy will eventually overwhelm the Earth’s ability to satisfy humanity’s needs, and will lead to wholesale human tragedy.”

Gross tells his fellow laureates and the attending journalists how he just visited Ladakh in the Himalayas: “These are fragile communities, they are very dependent on the rivers that spring from the Himalayan glaciers, and they are the ones that suffer first.” He points out that in the future, there might even be wars fought over water in several regions of the world. Doherty quotes from the Lancet Commission’s latest report: “They say that we may expect the breakdown of civil society in 21. century. And the poor on the planet are going to be the most affected, as always.”

All Nobel Laureates discussing the declaration in Lindau on Thursday morning agree unanimously that there is overwhelming evidence that emissions of greenhouse gases cause global warming. “There might be some uncertainties left,” concedes Chu. “It’s like in the 1950s when people didn’t know what happened if you smoked one pack of cigarettes per day – but the lung cancer rate was rising so rapidly that something had to be done.” Nowadays we can calculate the cancer risk of smoking quite precisely. “But do we want to wait fifty years until we know what will happen with global warming?”, he asks. Chu adds: “You don’t wait until your house is on fire before you take out fire insurance.” Doherty gives another analogy: when the HI virus was first discovered, many people, even scientist, doubted its role in the AIDS epidemic. But once the virus’ life cycle was understood and could be disrupted with antiviral drugs, most denial dropped.

 

 

Some of the signatories of the Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change on stage just after the signing. Image: Ch. Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

Some of the signatories of the Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change on stage just after the signing. Image: Ch. Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

Doherty also defines the difference between denial and scepticism: “If you’re sceptic, you talk to other researchers, you look at the data. If you’re in denial, you simply reject everything that’s being published.” Steven Chu explains how the best data on climate change comes from satellites: they clearly show how glaciers are shrinking all over the world, from Greenland and the Arctic to the Himalaya, the Alps and some parts of Antarctica. “But there are people in Congress who don’t want to look at satellite pictures,” he remembers from his time in politics. “That’s what I call denial.”

The Nobel Laureates agreed that politicians should act immediately to “lower the current and future greenhouse gas emissions”, as the declaration states. These politicians will meet at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, starting November 30, 2015. “It takes half a century to turn the boat,” states Chu. While it is true that newable energy technologies keep getting cheaper, this takes time. “At some point, the technology will be competitive.” Smoot adds: “You need infrastructure for that. This will also create jobs and give us a better infrastructure.” Doherty thinks that not only politicians need to reach results, but voters need to urge their leaders to act: “Politicians care about nothing except votes. So you have to convince the people who vote.” Schmidt replies that yes, voters could and should be informed about climate change, but that many politicians “will realise that they have a responsibility – it’s not only votes.”

Altogether, the laureates are cautiously optimistic, for instance when they think about the US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change last November. “It shows that we can move forward in the divide between developing and developed nations,” Smoot explained. This divide was one of the main obstacles in the past UN Climate Change Conferences in Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro. The laureates believe that the global warming challenge can be met with a combination of politics and technology, Doherty: “We’ll solve this through policy and technological innovation – and the latter drives economy.”

Chu concludes: “I’m a technological optimist and political optimist. It is possible to find a solution, but we’re running against the clock,” because change is getting more urgent – and more expensive – all the time.

For all further information on the Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change please visit Lindau-Nobel.org.

 

Susanne Dambeck

About Susanne Dambeck

Susanne Dambeck is a science writer in English and German, and author of several nonfiction childrens' books. A political scientist by training, she has worked in politics, television and as a biographer. Apart from scientific findings, she is interested in people and in storytelling in different languages.

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29 comments on “The Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change

  • Jonas Schimke says:

    Ein herber, aber dennoch verdienter Tiefschlag für diejenigen, die sich zwar Klima-“Skeptiker” nennen, jedoch in Perversion des wissenschaftlichen Begriffes mit Faktenverdrehung den Eindruck zu erwecken suchen, als gäbe es das Problem der anthropogenen Globalen Erwärmung gar nicht.

    Wollen wir hoffen, dass die Mainauer Deklaration entscheidend dazu beiträgt diese Leute für immer verstummen zu lassen, damit die Klimawissenschaft sich endlich wieder unbehelligt von der fossilen Lobby ihren eigentlichen Aufgaben widmen kann.

    Reply
    • John Concannon says:

      Hello Jonas, a scientist is expected to be sceptical, as part of his job. The scientific method is to create a hypothesis and see if it survives all tests. It is required by science that any hypothesis should be met with scepsis. Man made climate warming (if it exists at all) has to be shown as negative for the human race if action is required. This has not been the case and all the alarming prophecies failed to materialise.
      The report includes the famous “overwhelming evidence” statement which can be interpreted as “overwhelming political propaganda” just as easily. The whole thing seems more like an expensive get together for the boys. I hear they’re having another similar “do” in Paris this year.
      I get more sceptical everytime I read such nonsense

      Reply
    • Until today there is no scientific evidence that carbon dioxide (CO2) can affect our climate. The medieval warm period and the Little Ice Age took place in the northern hemisphere, even though the concentrations of CO2, methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) were, nearly constant, according to the 4th report of the WG I to the IPCC from 2007 (see https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-2-1-figure-1.html). This means that we do not know why these two periods of climate change did occur.

      Obviously, the Nobel Laureates suggest that the opponents of the hypothesis on anthropogenic global warming owing to so-called greenhouse gases have to show that this hypothesis is wrong. The opposite is true. Someone who has created a hypothesis must deliver evidence to show that his hypothesis is true, but not vice versa.

      I suggest that the Nobel Laureates should read the paper of Mauritsen et a. (2012) entitled “Tuning the climate of a global model” (see http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012MS000154/abstract). Tuning a numerical model is not in agreement with scientific standards. Speculation with numerical models is not only the most expensive kind of speculation, but also the most stupid one.

      Reply
  • Brian Andrews says:

    Hi Jonas, It is not a bitter blow to those who question the science. It is further evidence of exactly what we have been saying. A small number of white males with left wing political views have perverted science in order to impose their own world view on every one else. Why did only half of the attendees sign? Why did they not list their affiliations against their names? It defies belief that this could have anything to do with science.

    Kind Regards,

    Brian

    Reply
    • Daniel Rosenblatt says:

      Dear Brian,

      as I heard the story from someone that was there, the entire declaration was not planned in advance, it was rather a reaction to comments made by one of the attending Nobel laureates denying climate change. The initiative had about 24 hours to circulate and it is well understandable that not all laureates wanted to take a public stance on such a short notice or at all. I would point out that out of the people who are willing to put their reputation on the line on this matter, the ones who believe actions should be taken outnumber the other 36:1. The “consensus” you speak about prevails among climate scientists, the ones who actually study this matter.

      As for your requirement of writing down their institutions, this is an irrelevant observation for 2 reasons. a) The signature ceremony was limited in time, there was a large crowd and it would have been downright tedious to make them wait until all laureates write down the names of their institutions. b) These people, although highly appreciated, don’t represent their institutions and should not make declarations on behalf of their universities. They have only their own reputation to put on the line, and that’s what they are doing.

      Here’s how deaf they are to science: “What is the key message of the Mainau Declaration? – They Message is that while there is uncertainty, the IPCC report on Climate change represents the best understanding of climate change today, and should be used as the basis of policy decisions by the world. (Brian P. Schmidt)”

      Also, here are pictures of the signatures and the ceremony, if you still believe they were trying to hide the fact of the signing the declaration.

      Kind regards,
      Daniel Rosenblatt

      Reply
  • Remarkable that so many scientists signed a declaration on an area beyond their expertise. It might be appropriate to draw attention to a quote by Karl Popper in “The logic of scientific discovery”:
    “We may now return to a point made in the previous section: to my thesis that a subjective experience, or a feeling of conviction, can never justify a scientific statement, and that within science it can play no part except that of an object of an empirical (a psychological) inquiry. No matter how intense a feeling of conviction it may be, it can never justify a statement. Thus I may be utterly convinced of the truth of a statement; certain of the evidence of my perceptions; overwhelmed by the intensity of my experience: every doubt may seem to me absurd. But does this afford the slightest reason for science to accept my statement? Can any statement be justified by the fact that Karl Raimond Popper is utterly convinced of its truth? The answer is, ‘No’; and any other answer would be incompatible with the idea of scientific objectivity.”

    Reply
  • Richard of NZ says:

    Even though these Nobel laureates have no more relevance to the state of the climate than I, I will consider taking their opinions with more than a pinch of salt when they reduce their “carbon emissions” to that or less than mine. The same goes for politicians, activists, U.N. functionaries and members sof the Nobel committees. Until this occurs then I know that there is no reason to be concerned and these empty vessels are just out to be the ruling class in “Hunger Games”. They do nothing of importance, use more than their fair share of the worlds resources and make the most noise about saving the planet, whilst doing the most to damage it.

    Reply
  • Arno Arrak (@ArnoArrak) says:

    This declaration reflects the lobbying efforts of Sam Chu and Sir John Nurse as Brian Schmidt admitted Friday to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. According to Susanne Dambeck, reporting from the meeting, Schmidt insists that “All Nobel Laureates discussing the declaration in Lindau on Thursday morning agree unanimously that there is overwhelming evidence that emissions of greenhouse gases cause global warming.” But this was not so according to FAZ who reports that only 56 percent of the attending Nobelites actually signed the declaration. There is no science in this report but plenty of scare tactics. “… we outline the scale of the threat of climate change, and we provide the best possible advice” pontificates Schmidt. They see the world overwhelmed by “… ever-increasing demand for food, water, and energy…” leading eventually to such outcomes as water wars. It is obvious that the attendees knew nothing of the scale of the climate threat. The declaration simply got its descriptions of threats from the lobbyong efforts of Sam Chu and Sir John Nurse who have been persistent advocates of global warming dogma for years. As a result, their “threats” do not reflect the reality of what is happening to our climate. Let’s take their statement that “…emissions of greenhouse gases…cause global warming…” I note that the gas they are after is carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels, not some others they just throw in to make it scaier. It is quite true that carbon dioxide can be demonstrated to absorb infrared radiation and thereby get warm in the laboratory. In 1896 Svante Arrhenius realized that carbon dioxide in the air that likewise absorbs infrared radiation should get warm and thereby warm the atmosphere. This became the greenhouse theory of global warming, still in use by the IPCC. But science has moved on and we realize that carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Water vapor is also an atmospheric greenhouse gas and there is ten times more of it in the air than there is of carbon dioxide. They both absorb infrared radiation and we need to understand how this absorption is regulated. For IPCC the answer is obvious: the absorption by water vapor is simply added to the absorption by carbon dioxide and this raises their combined warming to two or three times higher than unaided carbon dioxide alone could accomplish. A good thing for global warming theory too because carbon dioxide alone could not generate the high temperatures we are warned of that are on the way. This assumes of course that carbon dioxide and water vapor do not interact in some more specific manner. The Miskolczi greenhouse theory or MGT is based on a different concept. According to MGT water vapor and carbon dioxide form a joint absorption window in the infrared whose optical thickness is 1.87. The latter value has been empirically determined by using radiosonde measurements. If you now add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere it will start to absorb in the IR just as Arrhenius says. But this will increase the optical thickness. And as soon as this happens, water vapor will start to diminish, rain out, the original optical thickness is restored, and no warming takes place. His theory came out ion 2007 and was immediately blacklisted because of the role he gives to water vapor. It turns out, however, that the Miskolczi theory is the only one that can correctly explain the existence of the hiatus, a complete stoppage of warming we have now while atmospheric carbon dioxide just keeps rising. This of coutse violates the greenhouse warming theory of Arrhenius. There has been no warming for 18 years by now, while carbon dioxide just keeps going up.. Anthony Watts has listed over 50 articles attempting to prove that the hiatus does not exist. The latest such “hiatus-killer” is an article by Karl et all in the 4th June Science magazine online issue. They try to show warming instead of a hiatus but are so incompetent that they plain forgot that to prove warming you must show that temperature increases with time. But this is only half the story. The other half is that there was another hiatus in the eighties and nineties that also lasted for 18 years. You don’t see it because it has been over-written by a fake warming called “late twentieth century warming” in official temperature ecords. I show this hiatus as figure 15 in “What Warming?” and the modus operandi of HadCRUT3 suppressing it in figure 24. The other co-conspirators in this despicable fraud are GISS and NCDC, both official temperature sources. Their common action can be traced to common computer processing of temperature curves that left identical traces on all three publicly available temperature data-sets. Having two hiatuses instead of one makes it almost impossible to argue that hiatuses are not real The two hiatuses together have blocked out 80 percent of the warming since the satellite era began. The remaining 20 percent includes the super El Nino of 1998 and a short step warming beginning in 1999. Neither one has anything to do with greenhouse warming. Hence, we can say that there has been no greenhouse warming whatsoever since the satellite era began in 1979.

    Reply
  • John Archer says:

    Only 55% of the attendees signed the declaration then? Not 97%? Shurely shome mishtake?

    But if it’s so, maybe that decline needs to be hidden too —”in the interests of the planet”, you’ll understand.

    Which reminds me: I would have expected Michael Mann to attend, at the very least just sign the declaration. He is a Nobel Prize winner, isn’t he, as he claims?

    In my view a lot more discipline is urgently required and the college of cardinals of the holy church of klimate science need to get their act together and force everyone in line lest those denialist fomenters bring about an unholy reformation. The current dire situation warrants the establishment of an inquisition to make sure everyone on the planet adheres to our one true faith. There can be no half measures — the future of mankind is at stake.

    Reply
  • Bo Lagerqvist says:

    According to The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences calculations indicate that the total climate impact of construction processes in Sweden is around 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year, with a breakdown of around 4 million tonnes for housing projects and 6 million tonnes for civilengineering and public works. That is the same size as emissions from all of the cars in Sweden, and more than is generated by all lorries and busses.

    With this in mind we must not demolish buildings if not necessary. In Stockholm the Nobel Foundation, sponsored by i.a. clothing Co H&M Foundation, plans to tear down three buildings of great historical value; a customs house bulit in 1876 and two unique harbour warehouses to make way for an enormous Nobel Centre. In Oslo the Nobel Peace Center is housed in a beautiful former railway station – a perfect and climate friendly way to reuse a beautiful building. We already have the beutiful City Hall in Stockholm where the Nobel festivitas take place and the Stockholm Concert Hall where the laurates receive their prizes. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/architecture/david-chipperfield-architects-controversial-designs-for-a-125m-nobel-center-in-stockholm-could-be-scrapped-10165752.html

    According to the plans 75.000 m3 of this historical site has to be excavated to make way for the Centre.

    Alfred Nobel invented dynamite and was also a major weapon manufacturer but I doubt that he would like to have seen the historical maritime heritage in the heart of Stockholm blown up.

    Reply
  • Tom Moran says:

    “Steven Chu explains how the best data on climate change comes from satellites: they clearly show how glaciers are shrinking all over the world, from Greenland and the Arctic to the Himalaya, the Alps and some parts of Antarctica. “But there are people in Congress who don’t want to look at satellite pictures,” he remembers from his time in politics. “That’s what I call denial.”” Stephen Chu is in denial about the satellite temperature data from UAH and RSS that show no warming for 18 years and 6 months.

    Reply
  • Tom Moran says:

    At a meeting of 65 Nobel Laureates only 35 signed the declaration and they call it unanimous? Does a trace gas essential to life on Earth also cause a language barrier?

    Reply
  • Brian H says:

    I would just like to mention, because I’ve seen something like “why wasn’t Michael Mann there?” many times, that the point of this meeting is for Nobel laureates to meet young aspiring scientists. The meeting was not in any sense climate-change specific, not every Nobel laureate attends or is even invited (as far as I know), and there is no valid argument to be made on the grounds that Michael Mann wasn’t there and because of that, didn’t sign. (http://www.lindau-nobel.org/about/)

    I would also like to mention that it seems likely to me that the reason scientists are afraid to put their signature on something like this is that there is such a significant political outrage from the far right that they don’t want to be involved in. It is not valid to assume that those who didn’t sign do not agree with the science; in fact, just like we know that many of our elected politicians almost certainly must be atheists, based on statistics, we know that many of those who didn’t sign agree with the scientific conclusions of the IPCC report and of this declaration.

    Reply
    • John Archer says:

      I would just like to mention, because I’ve seen something like “why wasn’t Michael Mann there?” many times, that the point of this meeting is for Nobel laureates to meet young aspiring scientists. … not every Nobel laureate attends or is even invited … there is no valid argument to be made on the grounds that Michael Mann wasn’t there and because of that, didn’t sign.
      [Brian H, 08/07/2015 at 7:25 pm]

      Of course there isn’t. But why didn’t you simply say that, contrary to what he has claimed about himself, Michael Mann is not a Nobel Prize winner and so would not have been invited?

      Mann’s highly controversial rôle in this whole CAGW controversy, and the fact that he lied about being a Nobel Prize winner, is central to the question of the integrity of such apparently authoritative statements or ‘declarations’ as the present one.

      One could be forgiven for thinking that your reply here seems especially designed to hide this simple fact and, in particular, the related damning fact about Mann.

      Reply
  • Roger Zimmerman says:

    As researcher in statistical processing of speech and natural language, I have had more than 30 years experience working with complex, non-linear computer modeling. The first rule of working with such models is that validity is checked by forward prediction. That is, no matter how you separate the train/test data while you are developing the model, any confidence you attach to experiments conducted during the development phase MUST be cross-validated against completely unseen data. This is the only way to discount the subtle tuning that occurs – using the test data – during model development. In modern “behavioral economics” terms, this cross-validation is a necessary step to begin to eliminate confirmation bias.

    As the GCMs have failed to be cross-validated in this manner, they are, scientifically speaking, invalid. That is, every forward-prediction made by these models has failed to to accurately conform to the observed data (at least as far as global mean temperature is concerned). The modelers may argue that they failed to take into account some aspect of the system, such as atmospheric particulates or ocean heat sinks. Those are fine hypotheses for why the models have failed.

    Now, in accordance with the scientific method, the modelers are obligated to rebuild their models taking into account these features, and to then subject them to forward prediction. My understanding it that time frames of roughly 15-20 years are then required in order to evaluate the models’ correspondence with reality, in this forward-prediction sense. I can wait.

    Until then, the models are completely worthless for informing any policy decisions. To make a single person poorer as a result of these failed models would be a monstrous immorality. Any intelligent person should be able to understand this, the “statements” of a collection of Nobel laureates notwithstanding.

    Reply

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