Nobel Prize Physics

The Nobel Prize in Physics is viewed as a signal and a warning to do more to combat global climate change

Earlier this month, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Klaus Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, and Syukuro Manabe of Princeton University in New Jersey, United States, would share this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics. The decision has been hailed in the German press as an important signal to political leaders and climate change skeptics that more must be done in order to combat global warming.

Hasselmann, who is 89 years old, was the institute’s director from 1975 until 1999. In his model, the weather and climate were linked together, and his approaches uncovered evidence that both natural events and human activity had an impact on the climate. Marlene Weiss of the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes on how the prize sends a clear message: The modeling of global warming is founded on the principles of sound physics and mathematics.

If not enough is done, it is not due to a lack of scientific understanding. “It is, of course, a tragedy that it will still be required to document this fact in 2021,” she observes. “Climate models that can forecast the evolution of the climate have been around for around 50 years, and genuine warming has been demonstrated in the data for approximately 30 years,” says the author. As Kai Schöneberg writes in taz, “It would have been better for everyone — truly for everyone — if this man had won this prize a few decades earlier.” He goes on to say, “It would have been better for everyone.” According to Hasselmann, it was his study that prompted the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to declare for the first time in 1995 that the human effect on global warming was discernible.

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In an article published by the Frankenpost, Hasselmann is credited with “playing a significant part in the political, economic, and societal rethinking that has lately begun on climate concerns.” The prize also serves as a symbolic call for climate change and the battle against it to be given the greatest priority possible across the world.

Among the few nations in the world to have established the aim of reaching climate neutrality by or before 2050 in national legislation, Germany is one of a few.