1970s cooling, again

pcf-fig Just when you thought this tripe was dead, it comes round again. Well, its winter at least in this hemisphere, and a bit chilly, so perhaps it seems plausible - the septics usually have trouble telling weather from climate.

Anyway, your reference is We’re number 1! which provises you a handy link to The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus - the paper that the denialists are too scared to address. Ta da. I've helpfully cut out a nice figure from that paper, which rather summarises the situation.

And maybe now is a good time to say, if I haven't before, how grateful I am to Tom Peterson for picking up my hobby (look at that link, if you haven't before; loadsa good stuff down there) and turning it into a proper paper, and John Fleck who skilz turned into a far more readable paper.

So much for the science history. But AW is interested in the popular media (a familiar story). Indeed, he's just recycling someone else's lists. Neither is honest enough to link to the science. My usual answer to that has always been "I'm a scientist; I'm not responsible for the media; yes there is any amount of tripe in the media". That was in the old days, when I was a scientist. But with that corrected, I'd still give much the same answer, and continue: there's nothing very useful you can do with that list. You've got no idea of the balance of warming vs cooling publications; the warming ones, then, have been deliberately omitted.

AW's point appears to be that there was as much stuff about cooling, then, as there is warming, now. That's false, obviously: you just have to do a google news search to find more stories about GW in the past month than AW managed to find for a decade.


* Global cooling awareness in the 60′s?
* Klotzbach Revisited, by Jos Hagelaars chez Bart
* Video by Frank Capra

More like this

I was a science student in the '70s, interested in glacial geology. We WERE concerned about a coming ice age, and it showed up in the MSM. Actually, the data still says that we are in the middle or towards the end of a natural interglacial. The trouble with that statement is that we have no idea whether the next ice age is 100, 1000 or 10,000 years away. For some reason we don't understand what controls our climate well enough to figure out when the next Deep Freeze is coming ... regardless of whether we understand it well enough to know how to turn up the thermostat 3 degrees.

[Per others below, much of that is wrong. We're no longer in a natural interglacial, and we do indeed have good ideas of when it might end (not at all, while CO2 levels remain unnaturally high). But the topic is what people thought then: We WERE concerned about a coming ice age is not too bad; I'm not trying to say that people weren't concerned about such, then; what you're getting wrong is the balance. Try this, from Lindzen: Indeed, the global cooling trend of the 1950s and 1960s led to a minor global cooling hysteria in the 1970s. All that was more or less normal scientific debate... There was even a report by the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences reaching its usual ambiguous conclusions. But the scientific community never took the issue to heart, governments ignored it, and with rising global temperatures in the late 1970s the issue more or less died -W]

By Doug Proctor (not verified) on 01 Mar 2013 #permalink

Doug: I think we know more than that, as per David Archer's "The Long Thaw" or the recent paper of Bill Ruddiman's The Anthropocene.

Or wait until Bill's next book comes out.

There's been much good research over last 10 years, and it is increasingly clear that without humans, we'd already be on the long slow (if jiggly) downward CO2 temperature path. if I recall aright, CO2 ought to be down around 240-260ppm by now. Archer, Chapter 12:

Very clear discussion of trigger points and CO2 levels, finishing with:

"If mankind ultimately burns about 2000 Gton C (this is about the business-as-usual forecast for the coming century), then it looks as though climate will avoid glaciation in 50 millennia as well, waiting until the next period of cold summers 130 millennia from now."

And if we burn all the coal, we could delay glaciation 500 millennia.

And actually, if there's always SF6 and similar things if we need them, assuming there's a technic civilization around and an asteroid doesn't get us first (which could happen any time from a few years off to many millions of years, with no way of predicting when.)

By John Mashey (not verified) on 01 Mar 2013 #permalink

"... it is increasingly clear that without humans, we’d already be on the long slow (if jiggly) downward CO2 temperature path ..." seems to be a statement against interest.

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 02 Mar 2013 #permalink

Some deniers willfully blur popular media with scientific literature, but for much of them, it's impossible to teach them the distinction. They see it all as one big conspiracy involving science, media, politics working closely together. As for media, I'd venture a guess that we could find more stories of the coming global cooling over the last few years than all of the 1970's (a time when there was still uncertainty, especially the earlier part of the decade), and that comes mostly from the AW types who have not the least bit of interest in reporting the science accurately. In 30 years, the same crowd may point to today's stories as evidence of scientists predicting cooling.

And once again we see why WTF is nominated in the category "best science blogs": promoting misinformation that soothes the masses is better than reporting the facts.

Doug, the best description of that which Eli heard in ~2K was that that was the year 10K problem.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 02 Mar 2013 #permalink

re #2
See Climate change dates back to dawn of first farmers by Dan Vergano @ USA Today.

Needless to say, the hint that the MWP (such as it was) and the LIA were caused, in part by humans, may not still well with some people, but there it is, but then some people seem to believe that because forest fires get caused by lightning, none ever could possibly be caused by arson or campfires or cigarettes.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 02 Mar 2013 #permalink

> without humans, we’d already be

What is this "we" of which he speaks, then?

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 02 Mar 2013 #permalink

It is fascinating to think that the Holocene/Anthropocene (although the Holocene seems to be shrinking :-)) has mostly stayed within a relatively narrow temperature range due to activity, almost as a thermostat. Ie:
1) for thousands if years , the slow increase in human agriculture /deforestration kept CO2/CH4 relatively flat, instead of the more usual jiggly downtrend seen in most past interglacials.
2) As human populations got big enough (last 2000 years), the deforestration got big enough to contribute to the MWP, and plague-driven reforestration periods big enough to give us the CO2 downward jiggles pre-MWP and then especially LIA, the latter occasioned by the 50M person dieoff post Columbus.

3) of course, the Industrial Revolution then turned the thermostat to High....

4) In any case, keep an eye out for Bill's book "Earth Transformed," next Fall. It is a real tour de force of multi-disciplinary research.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 03 Mar 2013 #permalink

John Mashey

I will certainly keep an eye open for this. I found Ruddiman's Earth's Climate Past and Future genuinely enlightening and would recommend it to the interested. If only one could persuade 'sceptics' to read texts like this.

While we're being bookish, has anyone had a preview of Michael Bender's forthcoming paleoclimate textbook?

Interesting. It's also worth noting, if you refer to WUWT's "list" of articles from the '70s, that one paper, research project, or scientific statement will lead to reporting by MULTIPLE MSM outlets (regardless of the veracity of the scientific statement). The same goes for modern day, which is why W.'s statement about the sheer number of AGW articles from one month in the current millennium probably dwarfs the GC articles from the '70s.

In other words: a bunch of articles does not a scientific census make. :)

We have always been at war with Eastasia
We have always been allies of Eurasia
Posters showing the opposite were created by saboteurs & deniers.


The BBC picture of the coming ice age must, of course, never have existed, since the BBC now censor any scepticism of warming alarmism, but is nonetheless funny.

[The bishophill thing is just a repost of the same broken stuff on WUWT etc. I notice that you have no substantive comments nor any challenge to the graph, or the paper. I can only assume you accept the paper as correct -W]

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 05 Mar 2013 #permalink

Earth surface temperatures always go up and down, with or without humans. The fear of catastrophic CO2 induced warming is a grotesque misjudgement that human influence on the earth's surface temperature can be significant.

Pretty near arctic sea ice extent/area maximum if not already past on 27th Feb.

Any change in your position for September sea ice?


gives 3 methods giving options of 2020 2030 or 2040 so the heading 'Arctic summers could be nearly ice free by 2050' seems a little odd to me just based on the article let alone what other people think. Unusual for headline writers. 2030 +/- 10 years would seem a more natural conclusion but does that allow someone to say the methods disagree but not by much?

Have you voted at

Either the discrepancy seems a little alarming or Neven forum/blog has suddenly veered towards alarmism. What do you think? Is it just the natural occurrence of alarmism after a particularly low September 2012? Or is 2012 occurring so soon after 2007 good evidence that the situation is alarming?

Or are your opinions too heavily tainted by your $10,000 bet to be worth stating?

Are you going to look for more bets or not?

I can comment on what I thought then.

There was science that said that were we to increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere things should warm, and evidence that we were indeed doing the former.

I had been taught about the likelihood of another ice age.

This is all more than 40 years ago and at that time I think that there was little evidence of either warming or cooling, but the ideas were scientific, the effects were causal and hence useful.

I know I talked about CO2, warming etc. at that time, but I have no recollection of the topic having a convenient name. Did it have one, beyond the twin ideas of atmospheric pollution and the greenhouse effect or similar?

Can anyone actually remember what if anything it was called?

By Alexander Harvey (not verified) on 09 Mar 2013 #permalink

Neven was always alarmed, it's just that after last summer he moved up to defcon 1 following Keynes dictum about changing one's opinion when the evidence changes.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 09 Mar 2013 #permalink

If by "the same" you mean scientific sceptics agree in pointing out error while alarmist's alarms change with the weather (or fashion, or payment or anything) then I have to point out that that is not a bad thing.Facts do not change as you wish so automatically those who stick to facts will move less than those selling lies.

Since you (& everyone else on "scienceblogs") refuses to name any scientist [...Ranting deleted. We've done this already, remember? -W]

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 11 Mar 2013 #permalink

[Sorry. That was amusing, but in the interests of S/N and fairness, I'm obliged to delete it -W]