Not just Damon and Kunen’s (already mentioned here)…by chance, I have found yet another Science paper (this time Broecker from August 1975) making it clear that, for a few years up to then, the general consensus among scientists had been that the world was cooling:
[…] the present cooling trend […] the natural climatic cooling which, since 1940, has more than compensated for the carbon dioxide effect[…]
Time to repeat myself: we have a ‘widely accepted [by the scientific community]…global cooling trend’, at least judging from Mitchell’s work in 1972; doubts about that growing in the same scientific community from 1975/1976, as per Damon and Kunen’s paper; but not early enough to prevent Newsweek from publishing its 1975 article, one that even mentions a certain Dr Murray Mitchell. That means that pieces of the global cooling puzzle do suggest that cooling was a widely-held view in the 1970s. Admittedly, such an agreed view did not last the whole decade: rather, it concerned the 1972 to 1975 period.
There are still many otherwise learned and reasonable people fooling themselves into thinking that the “1970s Global Cooling consensus” was a myth. No matter how much they try to massage historical evidence, the evident truth is that they are mistaken.
In the 1970s (I am not saying, for the whole decade) there was a consensus about global cooling. How is such a conclusion reached? By asking the right question.
In fact, the very reason the question is asked is because it is relevant to the world of today. Some have publicly declared that their skepticism on catastrophical Global Warming is based on their memories about catastrophical Global Cooling sometimes in the 1970s. Much is being done about Newsweek or New York Times articles of the time. The issue concerns therefore what we of 2010 would call a meme, and a popular one at that since it appeared and was propagated in general-interest newspapers and magazines.
That pretty much invalidates nerdy analyses of the scientific literature of the time, hardly a primary source of popular memes. Besides, one suspects it was far easier to publish a work on warming despite the underlying acceptance by prominent scientists of global cooling: surely at the time there was nothing remotely resembling the climategate gang, bent on preventing publication to anything challenging their beliefs. Fabricated unanimities just did not exist.
Hence the right question to ask is: did people sometimes in the 1970s live under the impression that there was a scientific consensus on Global Cooling? Note once again: it is a matter of impressions, not of some kind of unperceived reality.
Take this example: when Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau on 11 April 1814, all big political guns in Europe were under the impression that he was finished. Of course we know now that it wasn’t true (Napoleon escaped from his Elba prison 10 months later, and came tantalizingly close to win back his power in full).
Was there in 1814 a consensus that Napoleon was a defeated man? Yes. Was he? No, as far as we understand. Yes, as far as contemporaries understood.
Likewise for Global Cooling…we have for a fact that world temperatures have not been declining in the last 30-40 years (rather, the opposite has happened). We also know that not every scientist in the 1970s believed in Global Cooling. And yet…for a person of 1974/1975 with an average scientific interest for example, the consensus on Global Cooling was a fact of life. Why, even the CIA did not hesitate to describe such a consensus, and to organize a scientific conference about it.
History is like a foreign country…the only way to understand it is to respect it, and to be careful when dealing with it. Unfortunately, in the heated world of the AGW believer, respect and care are seldom to be found.
The Amazing James Randi has stepped into the AGW debate with a reasonable blog, stating truisms several times:
scientists are just as human as the rest of us, in that they are strongly influenced by the need to be accepted, to kowtow to peer opinion, and to “belong” in the scientific community
a growing number of prominent scientists disagree (on the IPCC consensus)
science does not depend on consensus
History supplies us with many examples where scientists were just plain wrong about certain matters, but ultimately discovered the truth through continued research
as far as humans are concerned, ten times more people die each year from the effects of cold than die from the heat
In my amateur opinion, more attention to disease control, better hygienic conditions for food production and clean water supplies, as well as controlling the filth that we breathe from fossil fuel use, are problems that should distract us from fretting about baking in Global Warming.
A Skeptic that is skeptical about making Global Warming THE defining issue of our times? Obviously, that’s not something that could be left unpunished. And in fact…there are some slightly ominous remarks by Phil “Jekill” Plait (not the usual reasonable Plait one can find talking about every topic but global warming):
I just talked with Randi about it (and sent him some info on AGW), and he’s posting a followup tonight
Let’s see how things develop.
From “Same fears, different name? – Maurizio Morabito uncovers a 1974 CIA report showing that the ‘scientific consensus’ then was that the world was cooling” published on Dec 10 in Spiked Online
[…] We have a ‘widely accepted [by the scientific community]…global cooling trend’, at least judging from Mitchell’s work in 1972; doubts about that growing in the same scientific community from 1975/1976, as per Damon and Kunen’s paper; but not early enough to prevent Newsweek from publishing its 1975 article, one that even mentions a certain Dr Murray Mitchell. That means that pieces of the global cooling puzzle do suggest that cooling was a widely-held view in the 1970s.
Admittedly, such an agreed view did not last the whole decade: rather, it concerned the 1972 to 1975 period. Says who? Says the CIA, in a unique report I was recently able to re-discover in the British Library […]
This article is much longer than the Spectator’s and contains all the evidence one should need to establish that there was a scientific consensus on global cooling in the period 1972-1975.
World Exclusive: CIA 1974 Document Reveals Emptiness of AGW Scares, Closes Debate On Global Cooling Consensus (And More…)
An eye-opening “global cooling consensus” CIA document dated 1974 has just been re-discovered in the British Library by Yours Truly and is extensively mentioned today in the (printed) pages of The Spectator (UK) and Il Foglio (Italy).
(updated 20091203 – 1042am GMT – the (suitably degraded) scan of the Spectator article is at the bottom of this blog)
(updated 20091203 – 1143am GMT – the PDF of the CIA document is now available online thanks to Guido Guidi and Climate Monitor)
“A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems” will make quite an embarrassing reading, especially for:
- the most obdurate catastro-warmists (when they will notice that almost all AGW scares are a search-and-replace job from “cooling” to “warming”), and
- the history deniers fixated on ‘demonstrating’ that a scientific consensus about Global Cooling in the 1970’s were a ‘myth'(*)
And there is more (much more), from ever-improving climate models promising to become good in a few years’ time to the unsettling apparent ease with which Government agencies then (as now) could get scientists to agree on whatever they needed them to agree on.
Nobody aware of the CIA document’s contents should be able to avoid a good chuckle after reading any of the current AGW reports on famine, starvation, refugee crises, floods, droughts, crop and monsoon failures, and all sorts of extreme weather phenomena; on climate-related major economic problems around the world; on Africans getting in climate troubles first; and so on and so forth.
Why? Because it is all too clear that those scares cannot be real, since they have already been mentioned verbatim in all their dramatic effect, but about Global Cooling.
The whole lot of them, they are just empty threats, instruments of doom-and-gloom policy manipulation with no relation to reality.
It is deeply ironic that it takes a 35-year-old document, available on the web so far only in title, to show the absolute vacuity of the vast majority of pre-COP15 reports and studies. It is time to ditch everything we hear about collapsing ice sheets, disappearing glaciers, species extinctions, and each and every “it’s worse than we thought” report by “scientists”.
It is time to become climate adults.
As I wrote for The Spectator:
This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise – much as it pains politicians and scientists – that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.
(stay tuned for the full text of the Spectator article, and the PDF of the PDF of the CIA document)
(*) Anybody thinking about Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s 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)? Well, think again after reading this little gem of theirs:
By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood
As I wrote a little more than a year ago: “Widely accepted”: check. “Global cooling”: check.. There was a global cooling consensus among scientists, at least up to 1974. And it went on to appear in Newsweek, The Washington Post, The New York Times and many more media outlets around the world, at least up to 1976.
UPDATED: This is the scanned Spectator article
“Scientific work, unless accurately done, had better not be done at all”
“Preconceived opinion is the pretended assumption by man of godly attributes which he does not possess”
As synchronicity has it…
Days ago, the BBC mentioned the controversy that prevented scientists from recognizing pre-Cambrian complex lifeforms for some 93 years.
Now it’s The Scientist dedicating an article to Oscar Liebrich and Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Thudichum and five lost decades in Science, on the basis of Theodore Sourkes’s book titled The Life and Work of J.L.W. Thudichum (click here for an alternative review).
Liebrich was the first to propose “that brain tissue was composed of a single giant molecule called ‘protagon’” (an idea destined quickly to become the “Protagon Consensus”). Thudichum was instead the brilliant scientist, “disenchanted with Liebrich’s theory“, able to “carefully [detail] the chemical constitution of the brain” decades ahead of his time, and of course victim of the consensus: dismissed by his colleagues as a “liar“.
The same concepts are reported by Daniel D. Christensen, M.D. in the Am J Psychiatry 160:459, March 2003: (here another version of the same article):
[Thudichum’s] attempts to understand the chemistry of the brain were often hotly debated and mocked. At times, even his personal character was attacked, as well as his honesty and motives. In the scientific press, he was called a “liar” and accused of “patent falsification.”
Thudichum’s main book on the topic dates 1884, some twenty years after the establishment of the Protagon Consensus and more or less the same span of time before its final demise. But Liebrich had started from a very strong position, being “a pupil of Hoppe-Seyler, one of the founders of biochemistry“. Dr. A Gamgee, Professor of Physiology in Manchester, didn’t waste much time to think about “protagon” before jumping in it with both his feet.
And so as late as 1909, somebody like W. Cramer could still be arguing for protagon, with M Steel and William J Geis spending twenty pages on the topic .
Another of Cramer’s Protagon Consensus articles shows characteristics that will not be unfamiliar to the AGW skeptic: interminable arguments deeply buried underneath layers of apparently scholarly reasoning (something we now know as utterly baseless); a pro-protagon explanation always at hand; and the wholesale dismissal of non-consensus ideas.
In an ironic twist, there is no space any longer for Liebrich in the history of biochemistry. And Thudichum is nowadays perhaps excessively celebrated, with a Medal Lecture in his honour. Still, his words are as true as ever: “Preconceived opinion is the pretended assumption by man of godly attributes which he does not possess“.
The Proceedings of that Symposium indicate the existence at the time of a general (mild) consensus about world temperatures getting cooler, thereby confirming what reported by Walter Sullivan in The New York Times at the end of January that very same year. And thereby also further undermining the results of the Peterson, Connolley and Fleck paper “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” in the Bulletin of the American Metereological Society.
(Yes: I do know that Peterson et al claim to be referring to the 1970s. However, they did include, or claim to have included, the analysis of all scientific research from 1965 onwards, a mere four years before the Symposium here discussed took place)
First of all, many thanks to renowned science popularizer and formed editor of New Scientist Nigel Calder for writing this comment:
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.
From Mr Calder’s information, I have managed to find the whole Proceedings of the Symposium on Changes of Climate with Special Reference to Arid Zones online:
CHANGES OF CLIMATE Proceedings of the Rome Symposium organized by Unesco und the World Meteorological Organization – ARID ZONE RESEARCH – XX
Published in 1963 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
The 473-page PDF is here, for a total of around 45MB.
Admittedly, it is easy to miss something in a document so big, but I am fairly confident the following are the most relevant findings for the present discussion (note that “some 115 scientists from 36 countries took part in the symposium“):
(page numbers in the following refer to the PDF’s, not the original)
(1) At page 182, an intervention by E. Kraus of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass., U.S.A., commenting a presentation by J. Murray Mitchell Jr. United States Weather Bureau, Washington, D.C.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the evidence presented by Dr. Murray Mitchell, Dr. Rodewald and some of the other speakers is the way in which it falls into a pattern. Not only air temperature, but also subtropical rainfall, the tendency of hurricanes to move along certain tracks or seasurface temperatures, show a reversal of the preceding [warming] climatic trend during the last one or two decades. The true physical signiñcance of Dr. Murray Mitchell’s result lies perhaps in the combined evidence, based on so many different variables.
(2) On the same page, another comment by C. C. Wallén of the Swedish Hydrological and Meteorological Office
I wish also to state how much I agree with Dr. Kraus that this downwards trend in temperature should be considered significant from a physical point of view although it may not be so from a statistical point of view. It certainly renders itself extremely well to studies of the relationship between changes in climate elements on one side and fluctuations in the general circulation
(3) From the presentation mentioned above, at page 162, “On the World-Wide Pattern of Secular Temperature Change” by J. Murray Mitchell Jr.
it has been extremely difficult by this means to avoid the conclusion that the warming trends [up to the 1940s] for the world as a whole, and for the Northern Hemisphere in particular, are truly planetary in scope. On the other hand, it cannot yet be demonstrated in this way beyond a reasonable doubt that the net cooling since the 1940s has likewise been planetary in scope. That this cooling is of such nature, however, seems reasonable and this should be verifiable if the cooling in the data areas were to continue for another decade or two in the future.
(4) C. C. Wallén must have been a scientist of repute, as he was asked to take care of the concluding lecture for the Symposium, “Aims and Methods in Studies of Climatic Fluctuations” (page 449), that included this:
All authors have been able to show, by using records dating back to the end of the eighteenth century that the warming up of large parts of the world from the middle of the nineteenth century until recently has been statistically significant. However, as pointed out especially by J. M. Mitchell and also shown for sea temperatures by M. Rodewald this increase in temperature has recently declined. The decreasing trend is significant if we consider the last 20-50 years or even further back but may lose most of its significance by applying several of the statistical methods commonly used to show fluctuations during a longer period.
There we have it then: several speakers presenting work on “a reversal of the preceding [warming] climatic trend” about which everybody atteding the Symposium appeared to be “physically” sure but “statistically” less certain. Still, they thought it reasonable for that aspect to be considered valid too.
Is that enough for a “global cooling consensus”? I think it is.