This month's shock new bestseller in Germany is a climate skeptical book called Die Kalte Sonne ("The Cold Sun."). It's shocking not just because Germany has, up till now, been one of Europe's most ecologically correct economies, but also because its co-author Professor Fritz Vahrenholt is one of the country's best known environmentalists.
If Al Gore or David Suzuki or NASA's Jim Hansen were suddenly to renounce man-made global warming, it could hardly be more surprising. Up until two years ago, Vahrenholt was Germany's Godfather of Green: a green activist and former environment minister for the State of Hamburg. In his new book, however, published by one of Germany's most respected, mainstream publishers Hoffman und Campe, Vahrenholt pours cold water on the notion of catastrophic man-made global warming.
Then again, in Europe as in the US, the drive for renewables was never really about practical economic considerations. It always had much more to do with the quasi-religious, anti-capitalist zeal of campaigners like Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council on Global Environmental Change (WBGU), an influential advisory committee for the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.In April 2011, the WBGU presented a report entitled "World in Transition - Social Contract for a Great Transformation". The main theses of the WBGU are as follows: The current economic model ("fossil industrial metabolism") is normatively untenable. "The transformation to a climate friendly economy... is morally as necessary as the abolition of slavery and the outlawing of child labor." The reorganization of the world economy has to happen quickly; nuclear energy and coal have to be given up at the same time and very soon.As Vahrenholt noted in Die Welt, this is akin to the sweeping totalitarian measures undertaken in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s or in China under Mao's Great Leap Forward. Germany, warned Vahrenholt, is in danger of "Sliding head over heels into eco dictatorship."