Global Cooling Consensus Not A Myth

Timely but alas flawed contribution by Thomas Peterson of NOAA, William Connolley of the British Antarctic survey and science reporter John Fleck, reporting on the “Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society” about the apparent lack of peer-reviewed papers predicting global cooling, between 1965 and 1979 (it’s reported here in Nature’s Climate Feedback blog).

Unfortunately, it really does look like Messrs Peterson, Connolley and Fleck simply have not looked well enough… or have conveniently restricted their search just enough to miss a 1961 article describing a Global Cooling consensus among scientists at a meeting supported also by…the American Metereological Association.

The article, written by Walter Sullivan for The New York Times (cited by Peterson et al. for his 1975 climate-related articles), refers to a 5-day Conference co-chaired by Rhodes W. Fairbridge of Columbia University and Charles G. Knudsen of the United States Weather Bureau, in the January of 1961.

Perhaps the AMA’s own archives could clarify what climatologists exactly talked about at the time.

Notably, the 1961 Conference is described as as varied and multidisciplinary as any today. And yes, scientists at the time were aware of the “greenhouse effect” of carbon dioxide.

UPDATE OCT 10: Nigel Calder’s comment was particularly interesting, so I managed to find online the Proceedings of the 1961 UNESCO Symposium he was referring to. The contents do appear to indicate a global cooling consensus, as suggested, that was important enough to be mentioned in the concluding Lecture.

  1. Bill
    2008/10/11 at 05:05

    In accounting for record breaking lows, Tennessee experienced an all time lowest termperature ever recorded in the winter of 85. My town of Murfreesboro had an overnight low of -17, to the north, around Al Gore’s supermansion, it got down to -20 for an overnight low. This in a time when it was supposed to be heating up, 5 years AFTER the warming trend was supposed to be taking place.

  2. Tim
    2008/10/10 at 16:22

    Michael Asher:

    The interesting thing about Connolley (I’ve been following his Wikipedia exploits for probably around 18 months) is that he has developed, essentially, a cabal of true believers who bow to his every word in regards to Climate Change. If you can find an article that in any way relates to AGW, the history will show that this cabal has had a hand in editing it to match the “concensus.” Wherever one goes, the others always follow, and use their power to subvert Wikipedia’s rules. Meanwhile, Connolley has admin privileges there, such that when his group creates an edit war on an article, he can then go and protect it to reflect their desired revision. Anyone who attempts to argue otherwise is labeled “tendentious,” and usually ends up being restircted in one way or another.

    Sadly, Connolley is never, or only minimally, censured there for his poor behavior.

  3. 2008/10/10 at 08:15

    The rubber hits the road, and there goes Tony Sidaway.

  4. 2008/10/09 at 22:09

    Nigel Calder’s comment was particularly interesting, so I managed to find the Proceedings of that 1961 UNESCO Symposium online. The contents do appear to indicate a global cooling consensus, as suggested. It was important enough to be mentioned in the concluding Lecture.

  5. Les Johnson
    2008/10/09 at 20:05

    Peterson et al did a pretty poor job, as far as I can tell.

    I have found multiple papers by H.H. Lamb (thanks, Nigel), who was worried about crop failures due to cold climates, as late as 1969.

    Of course, most of his references are also about cooling climate.

    He is not mentioned in Peterson et al. They did not mention the founder of the Climate Research Center, on whom the IPCC temperature data resides?

  6. Les Johnson
    2008/10/09 at 18:12

    Peterson et al also missed Kukla-Mathews, and their theory that the interglacial was ending. The following is my summary of the NOAA paper. Note that none of these events made it into Peterson et al.

    1972 – Kukla-Mathews publishes in Science, an article about the end of the current inter glacial. Also writes a letter to Nixon in 1972, specifically warning about global cooling.
    1973 – First Climate office started in Feb 1973 (ad hoc Panel on the Present Inter Glacial). This was after a meeting of 42 of the most prominent climatologists, and apparently there was consensus about cooling. Especially as the NOAA, NWS and ICAS were involved.
    1974 – Office of Climate Dynamics opened.
    1978 -Carter signs Climate Program Act, partly due to the SEVERE WINTER experienced the preceding winter.

    Granted, with the possible exception of the Nature article, none of the above would be peer reviewed, and would thus be ignored by Peterson et al. But, I would think that the creation of Government departments to monitor Global Cooling would warrant a mention.

    Click here for NOAA history of climate departments

  7. Michael Asher
    2008/10/09 at 17:19

    Interesting. Connolley, of the Petersen paper, is also one of Wikipedia’s most active AGW zealots, engaged on a daily crusade to censor all pertinent articles from any hint of skepticism. It’s not surprising he would conclude global cooling was “just a myth”, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

  8. Nigel Calder
    2008/10/09 at 16:52

    In October 1961, following the US meeting you describe, the World Meteorological Organization and UNESCO organized an international Symposium on Changes of Climate, in Rome. The discussions were led by H.H. Lamb of the UK Met Office, who went on to found the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

    The dominant theme of the meeting was the threat posed by the all-too-evident global cooling to world food supplies. The proceedings were published by UNESCO (Arid Zone Research Series XX, 1963).

    I know all this because I was at that symposium. An advantage of old age in this subject is to know just how often the global warmers try to rewrite history, in the Orwellian way.

  9. 2008/10/09 at 15:07


    This is a serious topic but you are not treating it seriously enough. I have done my research, and can demonstrate that it takes all of 15 minutes to find all the references needed to investigate the “global cooling consensus” at a 1961 AMA-sponsored meeting, chaired also by a prominent climatology scientist (Fairbridge).

    On the other side, you have not even bothered to read Peterson et al, otherwise you’d have discovered some other interesting tidbits. I’ll post about them later in the day…

    …in the meanwhile please refrain from meaningless accusations. I have shown you the Moon, please stop looking at my finger…

  10. 2008/10/09 at 13:28

    The king has no clothes. Do your research or stop falsely claiming to have done so.

  11. 2008/10/09 at 06:36


    Yours is the worst-argued comment of the year so far. Congratulations!

  12. 2008/10/09 at 01:03

    If you can’t be bothered to do enough research to support you challenge to those who have done so, it probably isn’t wise to write fluff articles tagged with declamatory titles that suggest otherwise.

  13. 2008/10/09 at 00:35

    I can only search what I have access to (the NYT’s archives, not AMA’s).

    I am also not spending professional time to write articles on the subject, so it’s not me the one having to explain why an AMA conference reaching a consensus on cooling (in the hypothesis that Sullivan’s report was accurate), has not been included in the analysis.

    And yes, I did look in Peterson et al’s text trying to spot references to that Conference. On the other hand, for some reason they restricted themselves to 1965 onwards. Why not just the 1970’s if that was the question?

    ps Sullivan mentions scientific articles by scientists from Sweden. the USA and the USSR according to whom “in the last two decades, the warming trend seems to have reverse”. Since Peterson et al. could only find 7 similar articles in the 1965-1979 period, those two (or three) pointed by Sullivan should be looked at with interest.

    pps Fairbridge in 1989 was still arguing that a cooling was in order, but CO2 build-up might help us avoid a new LIA

  14. 2008/10/09 at 00:02

    So, have you done so? Moreover, have you checked that Peterson et al did not?

  15. 2008/10/08 at 23:37

    Ahhhh…why does one have to explain the obvious?

    No, I am not putting newspaper pieces on the level of peer-reviewed articles.

    What I am saying is, if the AMA sponsored a 1961 meeting where everybody more or less agreed the world was going to get cooler, the AMA must have something in its archives about it, including the names of the participants.

    From those, it shouldn’t be too hard to find where those scientists did publish their thoughts on the upcoming cool temperatures (or otherwise).

    Perhaps there was even a publication associated to that Conference.

    By searching the NYT archives online, Peterson et al. would have then had the chance to find evidence for (or disprove further) the notion of a “global cooling consensus” just a few years before the arbitrary 1965 starting point.

  16. 2008/10/08 at 22:59

    Excuse me, but are you saying that this 19612 New York Times piece amounts to peer reviewed content supporting a global cooling hypothesis?

  1. 2009/08/18 at 01:19
  2. 2008/12/09 at 06:45
  3. 2008/10/15 at 05:05
  4. 2008/10/15 at 01:01
  5. 2008/10/14 at 22:23
  6. 2008/10/09 at 22:05

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