Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Tragic Triumph – The Life of a Climate Researcher

Introduction: Manfred Lahnstein

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

© DBU Portrait

Past Dates

Climate is “one of the most complex and surprising systems of all” explains Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. The climate researcher from Potsdam informs and advises politicians on rethinking our use of resources. He sees a number of alternatives to our “comfort society in love with technology”: “What everyone is demanding is not reform, it is a swift way of overcoming the fossil-nuclear complex. The relentless search for a replacement for fossil energy will not be able to eliminate the long-term trends towards shortages and greater expense.” Schellnhuber proposes a social contract for the 21st century, to achieve a way forward to nature in the sense of genuine progress. But to what extent do alternative scenarios get any kind of political or social hearing? What is the role that scientific expertise plays in shaping political will?

Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (*1950) is Founder Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research. This unique institution investigates the potential ecological, economic and social consequences of global climate change on an interdisciplinary basis. The physicist and mathematician also teaches Theoretical Physics at Potsdam University. Since 1992 he has been a member of the Federal Government’s Scientific Advisory Council on ‘Global Climate Change’ and is currently its chair. He was Chief Scientific Advisor to the Federal Government during the German Presidency of the EU and chairing of the G8 in 2007. Alongside numerous professional scientific publications, Schellnhuber has also published (together with Stefan Rahmstorf) Climate Change (2006).