Interview with Lennart Bengtsson
by Hans von Storch
by Hans von Storch
On the occasion of the press release by GWPF: "Professor Lennart Bengtsson Joins GWPF Academic Advisory Council" I wanted to hear Lennart's own position on this mattter and prepared some question. Here are his answers:
|Lennart Bengtsson in 2006|
Before I try to reply to your questions I need to provide some general background
My interest i climate science and in weather prediction has always been driven by scientific curiosity and I have increasingly been disturbed by the strong tendencies to politization that has taken place in climate research in recent years. I believe most serious scientists are sceptics and are particularly frustrated that we are not able to properly validate climate change simulations. I have always tried to follow the philosophy of Karl Popper that I believe is particularly important when you are dealing with complex systems of which the climate system is a primary example. For this reason empirical evidence is absolutely essential. The warming of the climate system since the end of the 19th century has been very modest by some ¾°C in spite of the simultaneous increase in greenhouse gas forcing by 2.5-3 W/m2.
I am concern that this as well as the lack of ocean surface warming in some 17 years has not been properly recognized by IPCC. Nor have the cooling and increase in sea ice around Antarctica been properly recognized. Climate science must be focussed to understand such matters much better and for this reason it is appropriate to have an open mind and not follow the IPCC as believers of a religious faith.
I certainly believe that most scientists are potentially worried because of the long residence time of many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and that we must continue to seek for alternative ways to provide the world with energy. I share that view. There is no way this can be accomplished on a large scale within the next 50 years and probably not the next 100 years. Europe must realize that there is a world outside Europe that depends on fossil energy to improve standard of living and now emits more than 90% of all greenhouse gases This is worrisome but our worries must be put into a context as there are endless matters to worry about, practically all of them impossible to predict. Just move yourself backward in time exactly 100 years and try to foresee the evolution in the world for the next 100 years. It is important to keep this in mind. For these reasons we must be prepared to adjust to the future and not try to believe that we can determine the future.
The GWPF - what type of organisation is this?
See on Internet.
See on Internet.
I was somewhat surprised when I was asked to join but I know some of the people like Richard Lindzen, Richard Tol and Henrik Svensmark that I consider as fine scientists although I do not always agree with them. In fact I have had considerable disagreement with both Lindzen and Svensmark in public debates during the last 15 years. Most of the members of GWPF are economists and leading intellectuals that often have expressed critique towards the present dominant climate policy. This critique has generally in my view been justified as I strongly endorse an open society and consider it as an healthy sign that there is place for different well-thought through opinions on complex issues.
Serving in an advisory capacity does not necessarily imply that would agree with its major points. Which of the major points of GWPF would you endorse?
As a member I will of course maintain my scientific opinions that are well established but I will endorse a view where we should use science to overcome some of the problems that might occur in a warmer world. To have a future world that provides decent living conditions for some 9-10 billion people will require that we must use advance science such a nuclear power to provide energy for the world and to use genetic science to enhance food production. I do not support the present European views here. I also strongly endorse that I believe in the approach of GWPF namely to put the emphasis on adjustment and not on mitigation. Mitigation cannot be approached by returning to previous forms of societies but must be looking forward embracing science.
What do you think you will be able to contribute constructively to their mission and work?
To continue to have an open mind and be scientifically skeptical.
Having your new membership in the advisory board announced in a press release - what is the purpose of this very public announcement?
You have to ask GWPF here. I have not taken any step for publicity but I have no intention to be a sort of a secret member. It is interesting but this process started actually from a previous article on your blog for more than a year ago.
It seems that rather controversial knowledge claims are voiced through the GWPF-website - e.g. "The Observatory". Some may believe that you as an advisory board member and very prominent atmospheric scientist would share such claims. Will you try to avoid such perceptions? What about your skeptical attitude concerning knowledge claims favored by GWPF or its members?
There is no common view among the members of GWPF and I might well have a quite different view than from some of them. I will in no way hide my views. But I believe that someone like Lindzen that is a first class meteorologist sees things in a similar way. I am not joining in order to learn any meteorology but to rather to teach. But we might have more common views what we are going to do about climate change. I am looking forward to argue with some of the other members - we will see how it will work out.
Links: Another interview with Lennart Bengtsson