Does anyone dispute that the majority of climate scientists in the 1970s were not predicting global cooling?
Topic: Does anyone dispute that the majority of climate scientists in the 1970s were not predicting global cooling?
June 26, 2019 / By Ava Question:
In a recent question, the asker stated "thirty-five years ago, scientists were in a frenzy over global cooling. They were predicting that an ice-age would happen right about now, and temperatures would drop about forty degrees"
Most of the answers to this question seem to be talking about the media's poortrayal of global cooling. However, the question did not ask about the media, it specifically asked about scientists. "Scientists were in a frenzy over global cooling."
Of course, peer-reviewed studies at the time mostly predicted warming (or made no prediction).
Does anyone dispute that the majority of climate scientists in the 1970s were not predicting global cooling? If not, why was I the only one to correct the false statements made in this question? Shouldn't self-proclaimed "skeptics" be interested in truth and facts?
Best Answers: Does anyone dispute that the majority of climate scientists in the 1970s were not predicting global cooling?
Abby | 7 days ago
Not anyone who's educated on the subject and honest about it.
A physicist historian has summarized the history very well adn completely here on the American Institute of Physics site. Contrary to the exaggerations of a vocal few, the research on global warming continued uninterrupted in the 1970s:
Leading scientists continued to doubt that anyone needed to worry at all about the greenhouse effect. The veteran climate expert Helmut Landsberg stressed in a 1970 review that little was known about how humans might change the climate. At worst, he thought, the rise of CO2 at the current rate might bring a 2°C temperature rise over the next 400 years, which "can hardly be called cataclysmic."(43) Meanwhile Hubert H. Lamb, the outstanding compiler of old climate data, wrote that the effects of CO2 were "doubtful... there are many uncertainties." The CO2 theory, he pointed out, failed to account for the numerous large shifts that he had uncovered in records of climate from medieval times to the present. Many agreed with Lamb that a "rather sharp decline" of global temperature since the 1940s put the whole matter in question.(44)
Up to this point, I have described a central core of research on the effects of CO2 on climate — research that before the 1970s scarcely interacted with other subjects. During the 1970s, the greenhouse effect became a major topic in many overlapping fields. Scientists eventually determined that a bit over half of the effect of human activity on climate change is due to emissions of CO2 (mainly from fossil fuels but also from deforestation and cement manufacture). The rest of the effect is due to other gases such as methane and certain industrial gases; atmospheric pollution by smoke and dust; and changes in land use such as replacing dark forest with sunlight-reflecting crops or desert. These factors are discussed in other topical essays (especially those on Other Greenhouse Gases, Aerosols and The Biosphere.) The description of these studies is distributed among all the topical essays. The remainder of this essay covers only the developments most directly related to the gas CO2 itself.
Research on changes in the atmosphere's CO2 had been, almost by definition, identical to research on the greenhouse effect. But in the late 1970s and early 1980s, calculations found that other gases emitted by human activities also have a strong greenhouse effect — sometimes molecule for molecule tens or hundreds of times greater than CO2. Global climate change could not be properly studied without taking into account methane, emitted by both natural and artificial sources, and various other industrial gases. Nevertheless most of the scientific interest continued to revolve around CO2.
Carbon cycle studies proliferated. A major stimulus was a controversy that erupted in the early 1970s and stubbornly resisted resolution. National economic statistics yielded reliable figures for how much CO2 humanity put into the air each year from burning fossil fuels. The measurements of the annual increase by Keeling and others showed that less than half of the new carbon could be found in the atmosphere. Where was the rest? Oceanographers calculated how much of the gas the oceans took up, while other scientists calculated how much the biosphere took up or emitted. The numbers didn't add up — some of the carbon was "missing." Plainly, scientists did not understand important parts of the carbon cycle. Looking at large-scale climate changes, such as between ice ages and warm periods, they turned up a variety of interactions with climate involving plant life and ocean chemistry. The papers addressing these topics became increasingly complex.
Some scientists took up the old argument that fertilization of plant life by additional CO2, together with uptake by the oceans, would keep the level of gas from rising too sharply. Keeling, however, warned that by the middle of the next century, plants could well reach their limit in taking up carbon (as every gardener knows, beyond some point fertilization is useless or even harmful). Further, there would eventually be so much CO2 in the ocean surface waters that the oceans would not be able to absorb additional gas as rapidly as at present.(45) He kept refining and improving his measurements of the CO2 level in the atmosphere to extract more information. The curve did not climb smoothly, but stuttered through a large seasonal cycle, plus mysterious spells of faster and slower growth. It was only over a long term, say a decade, that the rise was clearly as inexorable as a tide.(46) Meanwhile, computer models were coming into better agreement on the future warming to be expected from increased CO2. And global temperatures began to rise again. It was getting increasingly difficult for scientists to believe that the greenhouse effect was no cause for worry.
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Originally Answered: What is the source for Time's claim in the 1970s of global cooling of 1.5C in 30 years?
From the last 60’s to the early 70’s there were some scientific papers published that discussed ‘global cooling’. Unlike the mainstream media, they did not make predictions of coming ice-ages. The main focus was on potential cooling if nothing was done to stem the increase in atmospheric sulphates and black particulate matter – both of which block sunlight from reaching Earth’s surface. Governments around the world responded and took action thus averting any potential cooling.
Many newspapers and magazines subscribe to scientific journals such as Nature and Science, it’s here they find stories they think will be of interest to their readers. Obviously I can’t say for certain just which journals Time referenced but it’s likely to be several of the following, all of which referenced ‘global cooling’
I read all these for a thesis I did back in the 80’s, I’m not going to reread them now but I don’t remember any reference to drops in temp of as much as 1.5°C and suspect this is something Time made up.
• Bradley, Miller – Recent Freezing Level Changes and Climatic Deterioration in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (Nature #243, 1973)
• Dansgaard, Johnsen, Moller, Langway Jr – One Thousand Centuries of Climatic Record from Camp Century on the Greenland Ice Sheet (Science #166, 1969)
• Emilani – Quaternary Paleotemperatures and the Duration of the High Temperature Intervals (Science #178, 1972)
• Frazier – Earth’s Cooling Climate (Science News, #96 1969)
• Gribbin – Planetary Alignment, Solar Activity and Climatic Changes (Nature #246, 1973)
• Hamilton and Seliga – The Effects of Atmospheric Turbidity and Surface Temperature on the Polar Ice Sheets (Nature #235, 1972)
• King – Solar Radiation Changes and the Weather (Nature #245, 1973)
• Kukla, Matthews – When Will The Present Interglacial End (Science, #178 1972)
• Purrett – Analysing the Atmosphere (Science News #102, 1972)
• Rasool, Schnieder – Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increase on Global Climate (Science #173, 1971)
• Starr, Oor – Five Year Climatic Trends for the Northern Hemisphere (Nature, #242 1973)
• Swerdsloskv – Writing in Nature (#244, 1973)
• Winstanley – Recent Rainfall Trends in Africa, the Middle East and India (Nature #243, 1973)
• Wollin, Ericson, Ryan – Variations in Magnetic Intensity and Climatic Changes 1925 to 1970 (Nature #242, 1973)
I'd like to answer the question and respond to Heretic: First of all, this is a different question, very much so. And in a different, more intellectual forum, this question would generate some interesting responses instead of the weak rhetoric we're seeing here. Second, my comment was intended for the other question you refer to, and taken out of context.
Yes, some obviously are disputing the fact that most climate scientists back when were not predicting global cooling. Yet the fact of the matter is that most scientists did not support that theory.
Yes, "skeptics" should be interested in the truth, but they seem to be very selective about their facts.
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The lefties are speaking here out of duty and feelings of self importance in denying that global cooling was ever an issue in the 1970s. Clearly kids with undeveloped brains.
However, I was there and clearly recall all the concern. It was a major issue for a while, and certain scientists were indeed in a 'frenzy' about it. Global warming was no concern in the 1970s, the idea didn't exist and a word about it never spoken.
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My thoughts, deniers are trying to hype it to create a distraction. So far deniers have been shown to be great magicians, but that is changing, regardless of how loud they yell. The overwhelming amount of evidence is pointing to the theory of AGW and Hansen has known for decades (along with many other scientists).
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You know I was alive and conscious during the 70s (I hadn't started my 12 year long drinking binge yet) and I don't remember word one about an ice age. We were worried about dirty water and love canal, but not the ice age. The ice age is 100% revisionist history. It did not exist back then. People are dredging up a couple of barely read articles and saying it was public panic and that is a bigger stinking turd than the whole AGW scare.
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No, most of the limited number of climate scientists in the 1970's were indeed predicting a coming ice age. This was simply based on historical data, and on the roughly 12,000 year cycle in the "wobble" of the Earth's axis. We have been spending the last few thousand years is a "warm bubble' of climate (with minor variations such as the so-called little ice age from about 1200 to 1800), and should be heading for an ice age, much as Mars is currently in one.
But we must understand that science is not static. As we gain more knowledge, our viewpoint changes. I'm not defending either predicted global warming or global cooling. Only noting that we now know more than we did back in the 1970's. And we will continue learning more. Who knows, the current hysteria about global warming may look as silly as the hysteria about "the coming ice age" did in the 1970's, as was shown on the covers of magazines like Popular Science. The real question is whether we will support more research (without bias or politicization) so that humanity can confront whatever fate awaits it in the future.
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Originally Answered: Was the "global cooling" story of the 60's/70's a media construct or did it have a consensus among scientists?
A few climate scientists did suggest the planet could enter a period of extended cooling *if* human sulfur dioxide (SO2 - an aerosol which blocks sunlight) emissions continued to accelerate. Various countries including the USA passed Clean Air Acts, and this scenario did not come to fruition. See pages 12-14 here for a plot of anthropogenic SO2 emissions.
Therefore the few projections of possible cooling were not even incorrect, they were just based on a physical scenario which didin't happen. Similarly if we sufficiently reduce our CO2 emissions, projections of catastrophic warming won't come to fruition either.
However, a review of the scientific literature at the time determined that 62% predicted warming and only 10% predicted cooling.
Some popular magazines like Newsweek ran stories about global cooling based on the scenarios discussed above. That's where this "they predicted global cooling" myth stems from.