Lennart Bengtsson: "Knowledge is the best medication against climate fear" - 15.06.22

Updated: Jun 17

Article by Alex Bojanowski for Die Welt, with translation by Net Zero Watch

Lennart Bengtsson is one of the most renowned climate scientists - and he opposes catastrophism: There is no climate crisis, he says, a warming climate is beneficial in some parts of the world, and the consequences and impacts of global warming can be curtailed. Climate policies that are too ambitious could even be harmful. The climate scientist and Nobel Prize winner Klaus Hasselmann paid tribute to his Swedish colleague: “He is an experienced and highly respected meteorologist and climate expert,” writes Hasselmann in his dedication to Bengtsson's new book. The Swede makes “a realistic yet optimistic assessment of the available options for change,” Hasselmann summarises.

Bengtsson's book "Vad händer med Klimatet" ("What's happening to the climate?") has just been published in Swedish. It offers matter-of-fact, basic knowledge about climate change.

WELT spoke to Bengtsson about his perspective on global warming. WELT: Mr. Bengtsson, are we living in a climate crisis? Lennart Bengtsson: I don't think the current warming should be called a crisis. Global food production, for example, is increasing. And despite a rapidly growing population and continuing warming far fewer people die as a result of extreme weather than in the past. The current acute problems of conflicts and wars are caused by the difficulty of finding, fast enough, reliable substitutes for fossil fuels. Nevertheless, we do need long-term and systematic action to reduce global greenhouse gases to curb warming. WELT: Should the Paris Climate Agreement serve as the guideline for restricting the CO emissions? Bengtsson: In my opinion, the Paris goals are too ambitious for the European Union in particular and should be adapted to what is technically feasible in order to avoid acute economic problems for the industry and the public. Every effort should be made to reduce CO2 emissions everywhere, also in emerging countries. If greenhouse gas emissions are not implemented worldwide, further warming won't be contained. WELT: What two problems do you think are the biggest caused by global warming? Bengtsson: Sea level rise is problematic in some areas, but that can be countered by the construction of coastal defenses, as is the case, for example, in the Netherlands. Changes in precipitation are all the more serious, the larger the areas are that are affected. Climate models simulate this, and there are good theoretical models that suggest that areas with heavy rainfall will become rainier and currently dry areas could have even more problems with drought. So far, however, there is no clear empirical evidence that such changes have taken place. They are also very difficult to separate from random natural events.

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Lennart Bengtsson

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