Monday, November 23, 2015 - 08:49
Dutch weather expert's urgent climate warning draws criticism
Climate change holds such a danger for the Netherlands, that a code orange warning - usually used to warn about extremely dangerous weather - is applicable, according to the KNMI. This statement is receiving fierce criticism from climate critics, who call it "crossing a line" and "a political statement to position the KNMI in the climate debate." Gerard van der Steenhoven, general director of the KNMI - the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute - made this statement on Sunday, in the run up to the climate summit in Paris later this month, broadcaster NOS reports. "If we fail to reach an agreement in Paris, and global warning continues unchecked, then there is definitely reason for code orange. The situation for the climate is really critical", he said. The KNMI director points to the first ten days of November, which were exceptionally warm, to prove his point. "We are actually currently living in the evidence of climate change", he said, adding that the KNMI can only explain the increased temperatures by climate change. According to him, the Netherlands, mostly situated below sea level, is one of the countries that is most vulnerable to global warming and is facing danger from three sides. This century the sea level on the Dutch coast rose by up to a meter. A temperature rise of 2 degrees already leads to 30 percent more precipitation in summer. And the water level in major rivers will increase dramatically in the winter and spring. Climate critics think that the climate is far too complex to simply make such statements. They agree that global warming is taking place, but far slower than climate activists are forecasting. "That's a political statement to position the KNMI in the climate debate" climate skeptic Marcel Crok said to the Telegraaf. "Since 1997 the temperature in the troposphere has not increased any more. Also it is kind of weird to base your statements on 10 days. That is a very short period." Climate economist and professor Richard Tol told the newspaper that the KNMI is crossing a line. "The ladies and gentlemen of the KNMI know a thing or two about the climate and weather, but they have little knowledge about climate policy or international climate negotiations," he said. "The idea that a few warm weeks are cause for concern is weird. It seems sensible to me that Mr. Van der Steenhoven in future limits himself to sound science rather than speculative activism." The climate summit takes place in Paris between November 30th and December 11th. During the summit, the leaders of more than 190 countries will seek ways to ensure that the global temperature does not rise more than 2 degrees higher than it was in 1850. The organizers want to reduce CO2 emissions by using more renewable energy instead of gas, coal and oil.