By Andy May
As Angus McFarlane shows in a 2018 well researched wattsupwiththat.com web post (McFarlane, 2018), some 65% of the peer-reviewed climate papers, that offered an opinion, published between 1965 and 1979 predicted that the global cooling seen at the time would continue. He references and is supported by a Notrickszone.com post by Kenneth Richard (Richard, 2016).
Attempts to erase the “global cooling scare” from the internet by the notorious William Connolley, who has rewritten 5,428 Wikipedia articles in a vain attempt to change history, failed. As James Delingpole explains in The Telegraph, Connolley systematically turned Wikipedia into a man-made global warming advocacy machine (Delingpole, 2009). He rewrote articles on global warming, the greenhouse effect, climate models and on global cooling. He tried to erase the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. In the Wikipedia pages he trashed famous climate scientists who were skeptical of man-made global warming like Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas. He also blocked people from correcting his lies.
William Connolley is friends with Michael Mann and his Hockey Team, which includes Phil Jones and Raymond Bradley. He is also a cofounder of the alarmist website Realclimate.org. Obviously, Connolley made sure that Mann and Bradley received glowing praise on Wikipedia until he was fired in 2009 and removed as a Wikipedia administrator (Delingpole, 2009).
We are not surprised that Connolley shows up as a co-author on the peer-reviewed paper, “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” in BAMS, written by Thomas Peterson, William Connolley and John Fleck (Peterson, Connolley, & Fleck, 2008). The paper is nonsense and made no difference because facts are stubborn things. That the paper passed peer-review illustrates how corrupt climate science has become. The paper begins with this:
“There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age. Indeed, the possibility of anthropogenic warming dominated the peer-reviewed literature even then.” (Peterson, Connolley, & Fleck, 2008)
Figure 1. The U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia global average temperature reconstruction since 1850. It shows, like other reconstructions, global cooling of about 0.09°C (0.16°F) from 1944 to 1977.
The global cooling scare of the 1960s and 1970s did exist, both climate scientists and the public were afraid that the global cooling trend, that began in the 1940s (see Figure 1), would continue and the world would turn very cold, maybe even return to a glacial period like the one that ended about 11,700 years ago at the beginning of the Holocene Epoch.
The Peterson, et al. paper carefully cherry picks 71 papers and claims that only seven papers between 1965 and 1979 disagreed with the “consensus” position that global warming would occur in the future. They found 20 that took a neutral position and 44 that agreed with the global warming consensus. But the world was cooling then and had been since 1944. Kenneth Richard researched this and expanded the time frame to 1960 to 1989. Richard found 285 papers that disagreed with the “consensus” position that global warming would occur in the future (Richard, 2016).
Of these 285 papers, 156 discussed the cooling since 1940 and predicted future cooling. Seven tried to show that CO2 might be causing the cooling. A complete list of papers can be downloaded from Kenneth Richard’s post. The alarmists fudged the numbers to show a 97% consensus that man caused global warming, then they fudged the global cooling consensus in the same way.
Angus McFarlane took the databases created by Kenneth Richard and Peterson, et al., merged them (there were 16 duplicates) and then did an independent search of his own. He found two additional relevant papers that were not already in one of the two databases. Then he eliminated the papers that were outside the original Peterson et al. period of 1965-1979.
McFarlane’s database is smaller than Richard’s and only has 190 relevant papers, but this is 119 more than Peterson, et al. found and it covers the same period. McFarlane’s review of the papers found that 86 predicted future cooling, 58 were neutral, and 46 predicted warming. Of the 86 cooling papers, 30 predicted a possible new “ice age.” Strictly speaking, we are in an ice age, what they mean is a new glacial period where ice advances to a major new maximum extent like 19,000 years ago in the last major glacial maximum. The 86 cooling papers are 45% of the total. If we ignore the neutral papers, like John Cook, et al. did (Cook, et al., 2013) in his 97% consensus study, then cooling papers are 65% of the papers that offered an opinion. Using Cook’s rules, we can comfortably claim there was a global cooling consensus in 1979.
However, once the mid-twentieth century cooling trend reversed and became a warming trend, it did not take long for the “consensus” to reverse as well. The global surface temperature trend changed to warming (about 0.017°C/year as shown in the graph) around 1977, and the peer-reviewed climate papers from 1977-1979 changed to a ratio of 52% warming to 48% cooling, a bare majority of warming papers, ignoring the neutral papers. During the 1980s the papers quickly changed to pro-warming.
The press in the mid-seventies reported that a consensus of climate scientists believed the world was cooling and the cooling would continue (Struck, 2014). Articles on the cooling consensus appeared in Newsweek, Time, the New York Times, and National Geographic. A landmark story by Peter Gwynne in Newsweek April 28, 1975 was typical (Gwynne, 1975). It was entitled “The Cooling World.” In the overheated style of Newsweek, the article begins, “There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically.” Later in the article Gwynne breathlessly explains “… the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. … and the resulting famines could be catastrophic.” Gwynne’s cited sources include the National Academy of Sciences, Murray Mitchell (NOAA), George Kukla (Columbia University), James McQuigg (NOAA’s Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment) (Gwynne, 1975).
George Kukla of Columbia University and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory did not change his view of a long-term global cooling trend, like many of his colleagues did. When he sadly passed away May 31, 2014, he still believed that a new massive glacial period would begin in the future, perhaps 5,000 years from now. Javier Vinós, in his blog post on “The next glaciation,” (Vinós, 2018) predicts that the next major glaciation will begin in 1500 to 2500 years. It is fortunate that both predictions are far in the future.
When the next global cooling period begins, as it inevitably will, will climate scientists write more global cooling papers? Why should we believe climate scientists who say the world is warming dangerously now, when just 50 or 60 years ago they were saying it was dangerously cooling? A reasonable question. What direct evidence has arisen that convinced them to reverse course? We had a consensus for cooling when the world was cooling, now we have a consensus for warming and the world is warming. Is that all there is to it? Both are hypotheses, what makes them become facts or theories?
Hypotheses are speculative ideas. A real scientist asks, “Is that so? Tell me why you think that.” A rigorous scientific process must be used to demonstrate why observed events, such as global warming or global cooling, are occurring. To show they are potentially dangerous takes even more work.
Consensus is a political thing. The public forms a consensus opinion, then vote and make laws or rules that reflect the opinion. In science, we first form a hypothesis or idea that explains an observed natural phenomenon, such as warming or cooling. The next step is to attempt to disprove it. If we fail the idea survives. We publish what we did, and others attempt to disprove the idea, if they fail to disprove it, it survives. Once this has gone on long enough, the idea becomes a theory. A scientific theory simply survives, it is never proven, it must always be subject to testing.
We mentioned above that seven of the papers examined by Angus McFarlane and Kenneth Richard suggested that CO2 might be causing global cooling. A good example is Sherwood Idso’s, 1984 paper in the Journal of Climatology. The paper is entitled “What if Increases in Atmospheric CO2 Have an inverse Greenhouse Effect?” (Idso, 1984). Idso speculates that additional CO2 will encourage plants to move into more arid areas, because additional CO2 causes plants to use less water per pound of growth. Idso thinks that this might change Earth’s albedo (reflectivity) in such a way as to lower temperatures. In a similar way, Richard Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi speculated that additional CO2 would increase humidity in the tropics and thus cloud cover (Lindzen & Choi, 2011). Extremely small changes in average cloud cover can have a large cooling effect during the daytime.
Peter Webster presents an interesting discussion of Sherwood Idso’s work in his Climatic Change paper, “The Carbon Dioxide/Climate Controversy: Some Personal Comments on Two Recent Publications” (Webster, 1984). Besides an interesting discussion of the emotions involved in the human-caused climate change debate, we can see from Webster’s discussion, and Idso’s paper, how little we really know about the impact of additional CO2 in the real world. Tiny changes in Earth’s albedo, whether due to cloud cover or the distribution of plants can make a huge difference.
Empirical estimates of ECS (the change in air temperature due to doubling the CO2 concentration) have never matched theoretical calculations from climate models. The empirical values (like Idso’s or Lindzen and Choi’s) are normally about half of model estimates, and can be negative, like Idso’s. This is likely because the models are missing something and possible future changes in albedo due to changing cloud and plant cover are likely candidates.
This post is condensed and modified from my new book, Politics and Climate Change: A History.
To download the post bibliography click here.