The science of climate change is difficult and everyone agrees there are uncertainties and a contested point or two. But some points are asserted over and over again and aren’t really contested. They are just plain false. Yet no matter how often they are refuted they rise again from the dead, true zombie lies. One of the great things about writing on the internet is the ability to link to really excellent pieces and Darksyde over at DailyKos has just such a piece you owe it to yourself to read. It’s not short but not excessively long, either. Just long enough to get the job done. And the job? To put a stake through the heart of this undead right wing talking point:
“In the 70s, all the scientists were predicting a new ice age, so why should we listen to them now.” To hear the usual suspects tell it today, the earth science community was in a fenzied panic, claiming the ice was about the begin another long trek south. Like most zombie lies, this one is based on a few grains of truth, and a whole lotta whoppers:
Despite active efforts to answer these questions, the following pervasive myth arose: there was a consensus among climate scientists of the 1970s that either global cooling or a full-fledged ice age was imminent. A review of the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979 shows this myth to be false. The myth’s basis lies in a selective misreading of the texts both by some members of the media at the time and by some observers today. (Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck, The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus,Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society)
If you want the details beneath the details the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that Darksyde links to above will give it to you, but the Darksyde piece is a shorter version and extremely lucid. It supplies the historical context and cites the evidence that there never was a consensus that cooling from anthropogenic sources was more likely than heating (the majority opinion always favored greenhouse effect heating over particulate effect cooling). Since then, advances in climate science and computer power have abundantly confirmed that view.
While not the main point of the piece, he also touches on a number of other issues, such as the causes of previous Ice Ages and the place of the Milankovitch cycle. To True Deniers, this won’t be convincing. They do not live in a Reality-Based World. But one thing is quite clear. The bogus claim amplified by the Right Wing Megaphone that there was an earlier scientific consensus that human activity would bring forth an Ice Age is a myth.
As always, it’s not the things we don’t know or are uncertain about that are to be feared most. It’s the things we think we know that we’re wrong about.