At a glance – What were climate scientists predicting in the 1970s?
Posted on 21 February 2023 by John Mason, BaerbelW
On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added “At a glance” section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a “bump” for our ask. This week features “What were climate scientists predicting in the 1970s?“. More will follow in the upcoming weeks. Please follow the Further Reading link at the bottom to read the full rebuttal and to join the discussion in the comment thread there.
At a glance
If you are aged 60 or over, you may remember this particular myth first-hand. For a brief time in the early to mid-1970s, certain sections of the popular media ran articles describing how we were heading for a renewed ice-age. Such silliness endures to the present day, just with a different gloss: as an example, for the UK tabloid the Daily Express, October just wouldn’t be October without it publishing at least one made-up account of the impending 100-day snow-apocalypse.
There were even books written on the subject, such as Nigel Calder’s mischievously-entitled The Weather Machine (1974), originally published by the BBC and accompanying a “documentary” of the same name, which was nothing of the sort. A shame, because the same author’s previous effort, The Restless Earth (1972), about plate tectonics, was very good indeed.
Thomas Peterson and colleagues did a very neat job of obliterating all of this nonsense. In a 2008 paper titled The myth of the 1970s global cooling scientific consensus, they dared do what the popular press dared not to. They had a look at what was actually going on. Obtaining copies of the peer-reviewed papers on climate, archived in the collections of Nature, JSTOR and the American Meteorological Society and published between 1965 and 1979, they examined and rated them. Would there be a consensus on global cooling? Alas! – no.
Results showed that despite the media claims, just ten per cent of papers predicted a cooling trend. On the other hand, 62% predicted global warming and 28% made no comment either way. The take-home from this one? It’s the old media adage, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”
Please use this form to provide feedback about this new “at a glance” section. Read a more technical version via the link below!
In case you’d like to explore more of our recently updated rebuttals, here are the links to all of them: