The dirt, in this case, is that he was once fairly sensible. In particular, he edited two books published by D Reidel:Global effects of environmental pollution, 1970, which was the proceedings of a Symposium, organised by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Dallas, Texas, December, 1968. ISBN 90-2777-0151-2 if you’re interested; shelf-mark 334.2.c.95.254 south front 3, if you’re in the UL. And The Changing Global Environment, 1975 (£55, paperback! Whew, the hardcover has a RRP of £100, but amazon offers it for £101 and is proud of the fact. Odd). ISBN 9027704023, shelf mark 200.c.97.1617. South wing 5. It even got a review in Boundary Layer Met (but I don’t know wot that sez cos its pay-only).
The second is an updated version of the first, so its a bit of a mystery why the UL puts them so far apart.
This post isn’t really about Singer. Its history of climatology, for which you want Spencer Wearts excellent webpage (better still, buy his book). But I’ll throw in a nice bit from the intro by Singer to the second book:
We can now turn to the… question and ask whether changes in climate are necessarily bad… I am persuaded to think that any climate change is bad because of the investments and adaptions that have been made by human beings and all the things that support human existence on this globe. Even minor fluctuations of climate could… inundate coastal cities (by raising sea levels).
JA has a post on this topic in which Thomas Palm provides that Singer quote.
Singer is only the editor, but he puts a couple of his papers in the second book. From the prologue One classic example, well documented, is the rise in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 produced by the intensive burning of fossil fuels… while there is little argument concerning the existence of such an increase, there is no agreement as to the consequences… on world climate. Or the intro to section 3 (the climate bit): The effects are not at all well understood….
There are many aspects to the volume – its not all or even mostly about CO2 – theres a pile of ocean pollution for example. I’m only going to pick out the CO2 stuff.
The Dependence of Atmospheric Temperature on the Concentration of Carbon Dioxide by Manabe. Uses a 1-d R-C model (essentially this is Manabe and Wetherald, 1967 repeated) to find that doubling (halving) CO2 increases (decreases) temperature by about 2.3 oC. But he notes that they really need a 3d GCM. He also notes the water vapour feedback, and the stratospheric cooling from adding CO2. The advantage of this paper over M+W67 is that there is some motivation and an actual prediction: “Suppose the concentration of CO2 increases by about 25% from 1900 to 2000 as the UN Dept of Social and Economic Affairs predicts, the resulting increase of surface temperature would be about 0.8oC, which may have significant effect on the climate of the earths surface”. Which was about right.
Climatic effects of atmospheric pollution by Bryson and Wendland. Finds that CO2, dust and sunspots contributed 71%, 8% and 5% of the temperature variation since 1880 [Interestingly, this bit gets deleted from the 1975 version, and is replaced with a ref to M+W, and a graph showing that CO2 and T variations don’t match well]. Weirdly say that “It has been argued that the CO2 increase was the work of man also, in the burning of fossil fuels, but Deevy has pointed out, the radiocarbon evidence suggests that the increase does not appear to be of fossil carbon…”. This survives into the 1975 version. Abstract says “Since 1940.. turbidity appears to have exceeded the effect of rising carbon dioxide, resulting in a rapid downward trend of temperature. There is no indication that these trends will be reversed…” but that text is not supported by the article itself.
A preliminary evaluation of atmospheric pollution as a cause of the global temperature fluctuation of the past century J Murray Mitchell, Jr. Remarks confined to CO2 and particulates – dust and smoke (== aerosol?). T has warmed from 1880 to 1940 by 0.6 oC, followed by cooling of 0.2-0.3 oC. Concludes that CO2 has been much more effective in changing T that antropogenic particulates, but that CO2 has caused only 1/3 of the 0.6 oC warming, and suspects that the cooling is from natural particulates rather than human ones. Then some rather confusing and unceratin stuff about whether particulates or CO2 will dominate in the future.
Climate change and the influence of Man’s activities on the global environment William Kellogg. Uncertainties; CO2 warming, particulates probably cooling, From the above one can, and probably should, conclude that man can influence the climate… this influence… must be that of a warming, especially in the Northern Hemisphere.
Environmental effects of energy production Singer. Lots of vagueness: the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is quite certain and supported by reliable measurements. Its effect on climate is uncertain.
So… where does this leave the great Global cooling debate? Even more on my side I think: there is really little evidence for concern about new ice ages from these two books, and mostly uncertainty, and verging on the side of warming, though with some vagueness from Bryson on aerosols. He doesn’t get to say “human volcano”.