Spiegel: ‘The Truth Peddlers’ – Smoke and Mirrors in the Climate Debate

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A new book by an executive at a major German power ultility claims we aren’t facing a climate catastrophe and rejects current mainstream ideas on global warming. Both climate change skeptics and those who warn of global warming profit from such controversies — so who should we believe?

Science can be so easy — at least when it is stripped of its nuances. Fritz Vahrenholt and his colleague, geologist Sebastian Lüning, say the world isn’t facing a climate catastrophe. The two are peddling precisely the kind of theory that generates publicity and allows both sides of the debate to profit. But it also leaves people wondering who they should believe.

The authors both work for German electric utility company RWE, where Vahrenholt is an executive. In their book “Die Kalte Sonne” (“The Cold Sun”), they claim that important research about climate change has been kept under wraps and that cries of an impending climate catastrophe are misleading. Their book arrived in book stores in Germany last week, with considerable media attention.

Following their statements, newspapers like the conservative tabloid Bild are dismissing what they call the “CO2 lie.” This camp says it’s not greenhouse gases that are behind the problem. It’s the sun that determines climate change, they argue.

The book is the latest salvo in the ongoing debate over global climate change. It’s a perpetual conflict that leaves people asking questions like: What’s really going on with the climate? What kind of picture can you draw from current research? The most reliable source on the topic is the climate report produced by the United Nations. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) puts together a report every few years about the state of knowledge in the field. The report documents in detail where researchers are unsure or just don’t know. Contrary to what many IPCC critics say, however, the report reads like a book filled with doubts. But there’s also a “summary for political decision makers” section, which is put together by civil servants rather than researchers, and which can appear to be biased in places.

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Pollution Update : Dirty air costs Europe billions

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From Environmental News Network and!/LearnFromNature

Air pollution caused more than 100 billion euros ($134.95 billion) in health and environmental damage, highlighting the need for more renewables sources of energy, a report published on Thursday by the European Environment Agency found.

Europe‘s 10,000 largest factories and energy facilities resulted in 102-169 billion euros in health issues, such as respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and environmental costs because of air pollution in 2009, the most recent available data.

Per citizen, the cost was between 200-300 euros.

“This analysis shows the significant impact of fossil-fueled power stations and the very high costs they impose on people’s health and the environment, making the case for introducing cleaner types of energy even more urgent,” European Environment Agency Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said in a statement.

The power generation sector was the biggest contributor of damage costs, with 66-112 billion euros, the study showed. It covered the EU 27 member states as well as Norway and Switzerland.

A small number of facilities, 622 or 6 percent of the total number, represented 75 percent of the total damage costs resulting from air pollutants, such as heavy metals, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide greenhouse gases.

To tackle this problem, the EU plans to review EU air quality legislation in 2013, but resistance from the bloc’s member states is expected.

Germany, France, Italy, Poland, and the United Kingdom, which have the largest number of facilities, were identified as contributing the most in terms of total damage costs.

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland and Romania were also responsible for a significant level of damage relative to their overall emissions levels.

Two British power stations, Drax and Longannet, were ranked five and 19 respectively out of the top 20 in terms of generating the highest pollution damage costs.

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