Moscow (AFP) Aug 23, 2010 - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin queried Monday whether man was to blame for climate change on a visit to the remote Russian Arctic, only to find himself bluntly contradicted by a German scientist.
Putin, known for his tough-guy visits to his country's most far-flung areas, went by helicopter to a Russian-German research station on an island at the mouth of the Lena River in the Far Eastern Yakutia region on the Arctic Ocean.
Wearing a black jacket to protect against the wind on the Samoilovsky Island off the settlement of Tiksi, Putin was shown ice said to be up to 3,000 years old and handled bones from a now extinct mammoth.
"Does climate change happen because the earth is breathing, living, giving off gas, methane, or is it due to the influence of human activity?" mused Putin as he sat down to tea with the scientists in their hut.
He noted that "10,000 years ago, the mammoths started to die out. This was linked to a warming of the climate, a rise in sea levels, a reduction of pastures."
"All this happened without human influence," he said in comments broadcast on state television. …
A German female scientist working at the station however showed no fear in making her opinion clear to the Russian strongman.
"The burning of various kinds of fuel has a far greater effect on climate than these methane emissions," said Inken Preuss quoted by Russian news agencies.
"Climate change has never happened like now and mankind is making a large impact," she added. …