How does global warming research create a climate of fear?

The polar ice caps are disappearing! The Gulf Stream will soon reverse! For? Perhaps. But it is becoming increasingly difficult for scientists to question the theory of revelation. At the same time, the public is fed up with the fear diet.

Gone are the days when climate researchers were content to sit on the ivory tower, where the supercomputers crunched the Numbers. Today, their field is more likely to provide dangerous material, and they themselves are the main characters. The problem has become so intense that it is no longer just a matter of media coverage. And the professionals who have made their daily bread a revelation have taken the bait. Last year, director Roland Emmerich described the global climate collapse caused by human activity in the film “tomorrow.” In January, the film’s literary work, “the state of fear”, was published in English by Michael Crichton, the bestselling author of “the state of fear,” published in English six months later.

Crichton’s thriller involves a violent clash between sober realists and radical idealists on the issue of climate. The idealist’s weapon is the fear of climate change, and they interpret any abnormal weather event as evidence of man-made global warming. A pr consultant advises environmental groups: “no matter what kind of weather we have, you have to organize your message in this way. The realists claim that there is little evidence that climate extremes are caused by human activity and that they are failing in battle. Their dry scientific facts do not have a chance to fight PR in the dire scenarios depicted in the climate idealists’ colour ink paintings.

Movies and novels are similar in some ways. Although the emmerich film is about to take place in the climate, Clayton predicts the economic collapse of his novel. In both cases, however, the culprits are man-made greenhouse gases. In the film, emissions are the cause of the disaster, and the novel is the fear of the coming climate disaster. In Clayton’s book, the idealists were so obsessed with their mission that, in the last attempt to shake public opinion, they finally caused the disaster they had predicted.

Too much attention to:

Although cleverly fictionalized, Crichton certainly accurately portrays the dynamics of communication between the scientific community, environmental groups, governments and civil society. In fact, the scientific community does face serious problems in understanding and understanding climate change. Scientific research faces a crisis as public figures gain attention in this competitive market for information that is newsworthy.

Everything can be blamed on man-made climate change. This was a flood in parts of east Germany in 2002.


Everything can be blamed on man-made climate change. This was a flood in parts of east Germany in 2002.

Climate change caused by human activities is an important issue. But is it really what the U.S. senator calls “the most important issue on the planet”? Will global conflict and poverty bring similar challenges? What about population growth, demographic change and more common natural disasters?

Few Americans are interested in the greenhouse effect these days. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was a different story. There was a huge drought in 1988, and then the Mississippi River flood in 1993 – both of which should actually awaken the public to climate change. But not in the United States, interest in the issue quickly disappeared. According to CBS ‘May 2003 survey, environmental issues are no longer one of the top six trending topics. Even on environmental issues, climate change is only seventh. Although German opinion has taken a different approach, what will happen?

Disaster is interesting: The analysis is boring.

Just like the protagonist in the thriller the Clayton, it is generally believed that in order to make the public attention is focused on “climate disaster” on this issue (the term occasionally does not exist outside the german-speaking countries), it has to be “more attractive” is put forward. In the early 1990s, Germany was hit by a strong storm, and German media reported a growing storm. Since then, storms of this size have become less common in the Nordic region, a fact that has now been ignored by the media. They also ignore the fact that atmospheric pressure changes measured in Stockholm since the Napoleonic era did not show the frequency and severity of storms. Instead, the media is now awash with stories of heat waves and floods. The media now claim that extreme events are frequent, as is the case with those who foment public fear in critchington’s novels. Using this logic, the drought in the German state of Brandenburg, combined with the disastrous flooding of the oder river, is not a contradiction.

In addition to the normal floods and storms, the threat of other, more dramatic scene – for example will lead to most of Europe or the temperature drops rapidly melting Greenland ice shelves of reversal of the Gulf Stream – is growing at close to the image of the disaster. There is even speculation that the Asian tsunami could be ascribed to catastrophic human work.

One river flooded and the other ran dry. Because of global warming. Here, the Rhine river in the hot summer of 2003.


One river flooded and the other ran dry. Because of global warming. Here, the Rhine river in the hot summer of 2003.

Public attention will not be focused on these issues for long. Soon after, people will be weather alerts, and return to daily affairs: unemployment, the transatlantic hostility, Turkey to join the European Union, or prince Charles and camilla parker bowles, marriage. As our attention spans are short, we will experience how doomsday prophets describe the dangers of climate change in more trivial details. People can already imagine the future image of terror: the downfall of the west Antarctic ice shelf will lead to rising sea levels, and after decades of carbon dioxide emissions, there will be sudden changes in temperature, atmosphere and human life. Has such a prediction been known to the public for a long time?

The price of fear is high, because it is a principle of sacrifice and prudence. A scarce resource – public concern and confidence in scientific reliability – is being revived by the practice of being consumed rather than being offered a positive example.

But what about climate researchers themselves? How do they interact with the media and the public?

Is there a scientific consensus?

A public statement by a German climate researcher gives the impression that the scientific basis for climate change has been largely resolved. They claim that the scientific community has established conditions for concerted action. In this case, concerted action means reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible.

This is not actually in the scientific community. This is because a considerable number of climate scientists refuse to believe that potential problems are adequately addressed. For example, a survey of global climate researchers last year found that a quarter of respondents still questioned whether human activity was responsible for recent climate change.

The public no longer knows what to believe – and is tired of it.

20th century fox

The public no longer knows what to believe – and is tired of it.

But most researchers do believe that the global climate change caused by human activity is already happening, and that the future will accelerate and become more pronounced. This shift will be accompanied by higher temperatures and higher sea levels. Scientists predict that in the more distant future, in about a hundred years, a significant increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the earth’s atmosphere will lead to more severe precipitation events in the northern hemisphere. Some areas may face more severe storms and other less risky areas.

But there are always scientists who agree with the alarmists in Crichton’s book that these scenes are not dramatic enough. For this reason, they are increasingly linking current extreme weather events to climate change caused by human activity. They do tend to use cautious language to describe such similarities, and interviews are downplayed. When asked the following question: “high water levels on the elbe river, the hurricane of Florida and the evidence of this year’s mild winter weather disaster? They responded that while this could not be scientifically proven, it was thought to be. None of this is incorrect, but when they are combined, it comes to the obvious conclusion that these weather events are, of course, evidence of climate catastrophe,

Always choose the most dramatic person.

The pattern is always the same. The significance of personal events becomes the material for media presentation, and then subtly dramatizes. In discussing the future, the scenario that predicts the highest growth rate of greenhouse gas emissions – and of course, the most significant climate consequences – is always the choice of all possible scenarios. There was no mention of a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Each prediction is more than the last. Melting Antarctic ice is one of the horrors of the moment.


Each prediction is more than the last. Melting Antarctic ice is one of the horrors of the moment.

Who benefits? Fear compels people to take action, but we forget that it also produces a rather transient response. Climate change, on the other hand, requires a long-term response. The impact on the public is likely to be “better” in the short term, which will also have a positive impact on reputation and research funding. But every new requirement for our climate and the future of our planet must be more dramatic than the last, in order to ensure that the entire system runs for a long time. After reports of the end of the world heat wave, it is difficult to draw public attention to the extinction of animal species and climate. The only message that can exceed this kind of report is to reverse the order of the Gulf Stream.

All this leads to an exaggerated spiral. Every step in the process seems harmless, but in general, knowledge about the climate, climate fluctuations, climate change and climate impacts is greatly distorted.

Unfortunately, the scientific correction mechanism is failing. Public reserved for the climate disaster proof standards in the scientific community is often considered to be unfortunate, because they damage the “valuable”, especially since scientists claimed that they could be “sceptics” abuse. Small-scale drama is considered acceptable, and correcting exaggeration is considered dangerous because it is politically untimely. This means that suspicion is not public. In contrast, the scientific community gives the impression that the science of climate change research is solid and requires only minor increases and adjustments.

Science has lost its objectivity.

The scientists’ self-censoring eventually led to a new, surprising insight that contradicts and even contradicts the traditional model of interpretation. Science is deteriorating into a traditional, politically correct, scientifically claimed repair shop. Science is not only powerless, it also loses its ability to be objective and open.

An example of this phenomenon is the discussion of so-called hockey sticks, a temperature curve that is said to describe the past millennium development. The name of the curve comes from the shape of the hockey stick. In 2001, the United Nations formed a group climate research of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, the hockey stick curve as a climate change caused by human’s iconic symbol and institutionalized. On the curve, the upward sloping blades of the hockey stick represent human influence at a steady temperature of several decades.

In an article we published in the journal science in October 2004, we were able to demonstrate that the basic approach to the hockey stick curve was flawed. Our aim is to partially reverse the inflated spiral, but not to call this core statement a real problem with man-made climate change. Instead of responding to the article, members of the climate research community took advantage of the controversy over the facts. Instead, they worry about the damage to worthy causes of climate protection.

Other scientists are succumbing to a frenetic form that almost evokes the McCarthy era. In their minds, the critique of methodology is nothing more than a huge product of the “conservative think tank and misinformation movement”, which is lobbying for oil and coal, which they see as their responsibility. On the contrary, from education’s standpoint, the drama of climate change is useful.

The same principles that drive other branches of science should apply equally to climate research: dissent drives sustainable development, and disagreement is not an unfortunate thing to keep in the community. Silence and uncertainty about the interests of politically worthy causes will reduce credibility, because public information is better than it is generally supposed to be. In the long run, it is said that useful theatricality is the opposite of what they intend to achieve. If that happens, science and society will miss an opportunity.

Hans von Storch, 55, is director of the GKSS coastal research institute (IfK) in Geesthacht, Germany, who studies water and climate in coastal areas. Nico Stehr, a 62-year-old sociologist at the university of Berlin, Germany, has been a long-time researcher on climate change attitudes.


Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash


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