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German scientist refutes Putin on climate change

AFP · 23 Aug 2010, 19:08

Published: 23 Aug 2010 19:08 GMT+02:00

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Putin, known for his tough-guy visits to his country's most far-flung areas, went by helicopter to a Russian-German research station on an island at the mouth of the Lena River in the Far Eastern Yakutia region on the Arctic Ocean.

Wearing a black jacket to protect against the wind on the Samoilovsky Island off the settlement of Tiksi, Putin was shown ice said to be up to 3,000 years old and handled bones from a now extinct mammoth.

"Does climate change happen because the earth is breathing, living, giving off gas, methane, or is it due to the influence of human activity?" mused Putin as he sat down to tea with the scientists in their hut.

He noted that "10,000 years ago, the mammoths started to die out. This was linked to a warming of the climate, a rise in sea levels, a reduction of pastures."

"All this happened without human influence," he said in comments broadcast on state television.

Mammoths were huge woolly relatives of today's elephants who lived in areas including present day Siberia until they started to become extinct in 10,000 BC, a process believed to have been caused by warming and human hunting.

Putin's doubts would put him at odds with mainstream scientific opinion which backs the idea that man-made emissions are the prime driver behind the current warming of the earth.

In 2003 Putin amazed scientists when he speculated that a global warming by "two or three degrees" could be a good thing for Russia as its people would no longer need fur coats and its agricultural production could rise.

But a German scientist working at the station showed no fear in making her opinion clear to the Russian strongman.

"The burning of various kinds of fuel has a far greater effect on climate than these methane emissions," said Inken Preuss quoted by Russian news agencies.

"Climate change has never happened like now and mankind is making a large impact," she added.

Russia has long been criticised by environmentalists for its reluctance to accept radical carbon emissions cuts but Moscow maintains it cannot sacrifice economic development at a crucial moment in the country's history.

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However a massive heatwave has this year exacted a heavy toll on the country, with the agriculture industry losing an estimated billion dollars in a drought which has seen a quarter of crops destroyed.

Putin told the researchers that this year Russia has understood well the effects of climate change after its worst ever wildfires burned hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest.

But pointing out that the mammoths had fled to remote islands as the effects of climate change became more severe, he joked: "I'd like to know what is going to happen here in the near future and what islands we need to move to."

Putin, a self-proclaimed wild animal lover, has in recent times enjoyed close encounters with a polar bear, a tiger and a leopard throughout Russia's regions as he seeks to burnish his hard-man image.

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Your comments about this article

21:16 August 23, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, no one knows for sure, whether or not humans are destroying the earth. The truth itself is actually not the most important thing. The persuit of the truth is the purpose of our existence.

The truth is rarely available and threfore logic is absolutely essential. And logic would suggest that human life is quite possibly the reason for the UNPRECEDENTED weather.

Climate change is very similar to the theory of God. If time proves that both are legitimate, then it will mean the total destruction of humanity.

Logis is clearly the most brillint thing there is.
23:35 August 23, 2010 by William Thirteen
total destruction of humanity? or just 99.5% destruction? God is very busy after all, can't wait around to see what happens to the last few humans, got to get back Beate Uhse!
00:04 August 24, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Are you off your meds again, Forrest? "Logis [sic] is clearly the most brillint [sic] thing there is." Jeezuz H. Christ.
00:07 August 24, 2010 by Beachrider
Ummm. Commenting from a different perspective...

Carbon-loading of the atmosphere is a fact. Nitrogen/phosphorus and Iron loading of the seas is also a fact. They all take a toll on climactic stability. They have varied with & without human intervention. We need to measure the impact of our actions if we want to keep this place habitable.

Solar variation is also a fact. The Mars probes are showing global warming there.

People need to take-account of ecological disasters that we have caused. Putin cannot forget the Aral Sea or Chernobyl. The USA and the EU have black marks against their names, too. These kinds of errors need to stop.

What I don't get is how some are 'so sure' that various changes will have measurable impact on climatic change. I am suspicious that they are just trying to minimize impact in certain areas without understanding the fallout of those changes.
08:07 August 24, 2010 by JAMessersmith
Climate change is hardly unprecedented. It is likely what killed off the dinosaurs, mega-mammals, and various other species that once roamed the earth. Yes, human activity could very well be responsible for climate change, but an even more frightening prospect is if it isn't.

Weather is NOT a stable phenomenon, even though it appears to be throughout a human lifetime. It is ever changing and animals constantly have to adapt. Not too long ago in our geological past, much of Europe and America was covered in kilometer-thick sheets of glacial ice, long before humans were ever pumping carbon into the atmosphere. For that much ice to disappear in a relatively short period of time, over the course of thousands of years, geologically speaking, is simply incredible. Countless factors could've contributed to it, with the most likely culprit being increased output from the sun. Yes, the sun is capable of heating up and cooling down. It's not programmable, nor is it there to accommodate us. Similarly, the poles can switch, the magnetosphere can shift, and innumerable other disturbances can take place within the atmosphere, of which we have absolutely no control over.

And I contend, even if humans are wholly responsible for climate change, there are billions upon billions of human beings out there. We ARE a force of nature. We are completely helpless to curb the scenario climate change-advocates have put forth, even if we wanted to. Humans cannot control a force of nature, and the collective inadvertent day-to-day actions of mankind is exactly that, not to mention the weather. Even if green technology was somehow implemented all across the world, and especially in developing regions such as China and India, which are two countries home to billions, we have no way of extracting the carbon we've already put into the atmosphere. According to global warming-advocates, the Industrial Revolution alone should be enough to do us in, and is totally irreversible. So even if a global dictator came to power, and somehow forbade billions of people from burning fossil fuels, the billions of tons of fossil fuels we've already burned would negate all that.

Point being, the idea that we have the power to harness a force of nature, i.e. the weather, in addition to the collective activity of billions of human beings, is utterly absurd. So regardless of whether global warming and climate change is taking place, I say "green technology" is a money-making sham, regardless of how well-intentioned it is. No matter how hard we try, we will never actively control the weather. Try getting 6 billion people to intentionally do anything in unison, and you'll find it's no easy task. Good luck convincing developing nations, who feel as if their continents were "raped" by European/American industrialists, to stop "progressing" toward a 1st world future, let alone convincing 1st world nations to lower their standard of living to stave off a what-if.
09:05 August 24, 2010 by wood artist
We could debate forever whether man is "causing" the climate change that is becoming more and more evident every day. However, there seems to be little doubt that man in contributing to it. Are we responsible for 10% or 90%? Who knows?

The fact is that what we do does have an effect, and the world as we know it is changing. It is changing faster than ever before, at least to the best of our ability to measure prior events, and that means trouble. Greenland without ice, Russia without a winter, the Antarctic without its ice cap are all truly scary thoughts. It's not just the question of ocean levels rising, it's also the question about the flow of undersea currents that transfer heat and cold...and the impacts on sea life that feeds a good part of the world's population.

Not only are there real impacts, but there are also secondary impacts. Should a country...let's just say Pakistan since they're in trouble right now with a natural diaster...discover that the land will no longer support the population, do they make the political decision to "move elsewhere?" Do they see other options? Are there other options?

Do we face a world at "war" as people struggle to find places that will continue to support their lifestyles?

Things to think about, well beyond Putin's "we don't want to damage our economy" stance.

10:19 August 24, 2010 by catjones
The headline is ridiculous. There's nothing "german" about science.
13:24 August 24, 2010 by asteriks
nobody will run away to islands than to mountains, like Alps south from Munich. That's the only protection from flood.

And surely, industrial capitalism, from the end of 18 century, is the most responsible for polluting of nature, but politicians are financed by riches/corporations so it is naive to believe that politicians will do anything against interests of corporations.
22:03 August 24, 2010 by wxman
I'm no Putin fan for a number of reasons, but he seems to have a clear and logical grasp of the periodic fluctuations and long-term shifts in the Earth's climate. I would much prefer he were a professor of Geosciences at university than the leader of a country.
23:33 August 24, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, why must people such as Prufrock2010 say only negative things? Does he believe that humans are here in this world, to only commit acts of immorality and be absolutely negative?

What part of LOGIC and BRILLIANCE does he not understand?

I have done and achieved many things over the years. And I just completed my first book. And I must say that the most disturbing thing I've realized is, is that most humans lack the intelligence required to live successfully on this planet.

After more than 3000 years of modern civilization, humanity has yet to solve even the most basic problems.
15:34 August 25, 2010 by Expat Canuck
There appears to be enough "evidence" on either side of the global warming fence to render the debate inconclusive. That the climate change debate has become highly politicized is beyond doubt, as even scientists who raise legitimate questions are demonized.

This is not the scientific method and I'm afraid the only casualty of this infantile bickering will be science itself.
23:41 August 27, 2010 by DrGideonPolya
PM Putin is (a) not a scientist and (b) he is the PM of a major fossil fuel exporter i.e. he is (a) uncredentialled .in denying the overwhelming scientific consensus that the global warming spike over the last century has been man-made and (b) his ignorance is compounded by evident conflict of interest.

Not surprisingly the German scientist Dr Inken Preuss is correct and non-scientist PM Putin is wrong - and therein lies the problem in public climate change discussions. Sensible people acknowledge that we should take the advice of top medical specialists in the face of deadly disease but when it comes to man-made climate change that is threatening to kill 10 billion people this century according to top scientists (Google Climate Genocide) the public discussion is dominated by a non-scientist coalition of non-scientist fossil fuel lobbyists, journalists and growth-obsessed politicians.

There have indeed been a succession of glacial- and inter-glacial periods over the last 800,000 years (as determined from ice-core data) but the current spike in carbon dioxide (CO2) is exceptional is vastly above the natural range of 172 to 300 ppm that existed over the last 800,000 years (for details Google 300.org). .

Thus Australia's premier scientific research organization, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in ¦quot;The Science of Climate Change¦quot; (2008): ¦quot;Since the Industrial Revolution, the CO2 concentrations have risen 37%, methane 150% and nitrous oxide 18%. The global increases in CO2 concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land-use change, while the increases in methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture. The CO2 concentration in 2008 of 383 parts per million (ppm) [now 392 ppm] is much higher than the natural range of 172 to 300 ppm that existed over the last 800,000 years.¦quot;

Hence Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research., Germany (2008) in supporting reduction of atmospheric CO2 concentration to a target of about 300 ppm CO2 : "It is a very sweeping argument, but nobody can say for sure that 330ppm is safe. Perhaps it will not matter whether we have 270ppm or 320ppm, but operating well outside the [historic] realm of carbon dioxide concentrations is risky as long as we have not fully understood the relevant feedback mechanisms".
02:34 August 29, 2010 by ErnestPayne
Perhaps Mr. Putin would care to try putting out a few fires or saving Russia's wheat crop before he becomes a climatologist. On the other hand Stalin's Russia was noted for scientific cronyism and Mr. Putin may be pining for the good old days when scientists automatically agreed with the leader.
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