Home > Catastrophism, Climate Change, Global Warming, globalcooling, Omniclimate, Science > Definitive Evidence for Global Cooling Consensus in the 1970s (1)

Definitive Evidence for Global Cooling Consensus in the 1970s (1)

A series of blogs analizing Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 89, Issue 9, September 2008, pp 1325-1337). Previous considerations about a global cooling consensus in the 1960’s can be read here and here.


In an act of supreme irony, incontrovertible evidence for a “global cooling scientific consensus in the 1970s” is spelled out loud and clear in Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus.

How did they manage then to show “global cooling scientific consensus in the 1970s” to be a “myth”?

By carefully adopting their own particular definitions for common words; by using the very “selective misreading of the texts” they accuse others to be guilty of (page 1326); and by using quite uneven criteria, strict regarding “cooling” and “consensus”, and loose on the “warming” side.

In the process, they have ended up discarding or having to liberally interpret most of the available literature. Furthermore, for an article dealing with a particular time period, PCF’s comments do appear temporally jumbled up. And they have created their own myths: the isolation of different types of climate research before the 1970’s, and the sudden appearance of CO2 as a factor affecting climate.



What is “global cooling”? At least at the beginning, PCF take it as synonym of “imminent ice age”:

PCF: “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.

Isn’t that a tad too catastrophist, too “2008”, to say the least?

Couldn’t there have been people in the 1970s convinced of, and worried about global cooling, without necessarily expecting “an imminent ice age”? It’s like trying to look at the past with our thoughts firmly anchored to the present, catastrophiliac era.

And what is a “scientific consensus”? Here’s PCF’s definition:

PCF: “[A global cooling scientific consensus] would be easily shown by both the presence of many articles describing global cooling projections and the absence of articles projecting global warming

So they would be satisfied of a “global cooling scientific consensus” only by “the absence of [scientific] articles projecting global warming”.

But that is an almost impossible feat. Even now in 2008, still there are peer-reviewed articles that do not agree with what is incessantly referred to as the “global warming consensus”.

A more open-minded approach would be to define as “scientific consensus” what most people would consider a “consensus”: having a large majority of scientists thinking global cooling was underway (just as a large majority of scientists think global warming is underway right now).

And that is exactly what PCF describe (referring to the 1972/1974 period):

PCF: “Meanwhile, newly created global temperature series showed cooling since the 1940s.[…] By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood

“Widely accepted”: check. “Global cooling”: check.

So according to PCF, a lowering of global temperatures was indeed the mainstream view in 1972. And up to sometimes in the 1970s at least, the available scientific evidence pointed towards global cooling being a reality.

On the basis of what PCF have written, a “global cooling scientific consensus” did exist in the 1970s, if only for a few years.



One could still wonder, if there was indeed a “global cooling scientific consensus” in the 1970s, why didn’t PCF find more articles supporting it? That’s the subject of next blog in the series.


  1. 2011/04/05 at 02:58

    UN: “And they have created their own myths: the isolation of different types of climate research before the 1970′s, and the sudden appearance of CO2 as a factor affecting climate.”
    ~ ~ ~
    Right off from the gitgo you misrepresent the situation. Scientists have been aware of atmospheric CO2 and it’s “greenhouse properties” for well over a hundred years. Facts about society’s supercharging atmosphere CO2 and the reasons for the concern where spelled out by Gilbert Plass in the July 1959 Scientific American article: “Carbon Dioxide and Climate”
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    You also tactically forget this whole controversy about the constant echo-chamber misrepresenting the 70s state of climatology and global cooling alarmism morphed into impending ice age. That’s the claim Peterson’s study was examining.

    Now you tease out all these nuances and instead of being impressed with the way science worked and learned and progressed, you intend on rationalizing some way to retain the meme that climatologists are clueless. That’s worse than wrong.

    It’s heart breakingly sad… we’re run out of spare time, every year is becoming increasingly precious and you folks demand endless diddling with these nonissues – all to justify Willful Ignorance towards our challenging future.

  2. Rick Turner
    2010/05/03 at 23:32

    Since when was peer reviewed literature an accurate representation of the prevailing thought among climate scientists or any one else?

    A few dozen articles published over a few years or a decade is far too narrow a sample to determine the extent to which a belief is held among members of an academic community.

    It’s quite possible there were thousands of climate scientists who thought global cooling or an ice age was imminent but never got published or didn’t try to get published.

  3. abarenb
    2009/04/02 at 20:17

    I do not understand what thesis you are trying to prove. Yes in the early 1970s scientist agreed the previous decades had been one in which the earth cooled. If you asked scientist today about 1940-1970 they would still have a consensus that it cooled during that time period.

    The thesis put forward (that PCF are refuting) was that in the 1970s scientist were PREDICTING future cooling.

  4. 2008/11/28 at 14:13

    It’s actually a John, not a Jeff. And whatever I write in his blog, it gets marked as “spam”. Let’s hope we will hear from him, one day.

  5. 2008/11/27 at 22:30

    Hello Jeff

    The comment below is in the spam queue of your blogging system, for some reason. Please accept it.


    Nice of you to link to my blog…where after all, all I did was to show how you built up a straw-man and then managed to bring it down. Congratulations!

    When you have a minute between patting yourself in the back and spreading purely-polemical memes, it will be nice to see you arguing how, when Mitchell published his 1972 paper you mention yourself, and “the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood” (your words, not mine), still there was no global cooling consensus.

    Of course what wasn’t there, was a consensus of the same sort (shall I say size?) that there is now with the IPCC and all that.

    But then if you want to redefine what consensus means, shouldn’t you make that clear in your paper?

  1. 2012/03/21 at 01:35
  2. 2010/09/10 at 22:25
  3. 2009/12/07 at 08:34
  4. 2009/12/03 at 10:44
  5. 2008/11/27 at 17:18
  6. 2008/10/15 at 13:08
  7. 2008/10/15 at 13:07

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