Global cooling alarmists 40 years ago

Ice-AgeHow is it that the “science is settled”? In regards to the Earth’s temperature, some headlines in the 1970s painted the opposite picture of what they do today. Regardless of the background science, that was actually done, the media pronouncements warned of global cooling back 40 years ago.

A 1974 Time magazine article, headlined “Another Ice Age?“, painted a bleak picture of global cooling:

“When meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe, they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.” (emphasis added)

A 1975 Newsweek article, titled “The Cooling World,” suggested that cooling “may portend a drastic decline for food production.”

“Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend… But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.”

Even a paper in the prestigious journal of Science cautiously predicted an ice age. Large increases of aerosols were predicted to reduce the warming effect of carbon dioxide emissions and hence, the paper reported that,

“…such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.” (emphasis added)



News reports  showed a declining temperature trend from 1940 and hence the Ice Age prediction.

Now, if you look at the longer term surface temperature data (Figure 2 here), gathered since that time, you see the extent of the cooling period followed by a warming period. screenhunter_389-may-21-04-08

In all this the real question to be asked is: Can man really hope to understand such long-term processes, which have periods of hundreds of years associated with them, and make successful predictions, based on models that are poorly designed due to inadequate knowledge?

Today the Earth’s temperature seems to defy all the models with a 17-year pause in warming and hence nullify the hysterical media predictions. But now that politics has taken over it is hardly science anymore.

Science has been hijacked and those with an agenda have more to do with the pronouncements than the scientists. Since the models didn’t predict the observed 17-year no-warming trend, the scientific method would say the models are wrong, but that has not stemmed the hysteria. Is there a lesson to learn from the 1970s? Caution is warranted. Besides if agricultural production was predicted to go backwards due to global cooling should it not go forward with global warming?

My own analysis is simple: The long-term 100-year trend of global surface temperatures clearly indicates global warming. But can we say it has been due to human activity? I don’t think so. The industrial revolution was in full sway after World War II and even though carbon dioxide was, in large quantities, being continuously pumped into the atmosphere, in the period 1940-1970’s there was a cooling trend. Now that we have reached a pause, that may indicate another decades long cooling trend is coming soon. We’ll see. But the science is not settled!

UPDATE added December 6, 2015

Scientists wouldn’t fall for the climate hype last time. So why this change?

reposted from Andrew Bolt’s blog

Tony Thomas tracks down a letter from a politician at the height of the last climate change scare, 40 years ago:

A great embarrassment to the warming-catastrophic community is that 40 years ago the climatology scare was about cooling and onset of an ice age. Warmists today go, “Pooh! That cooling stuff then was just a few hyped-up articles in magazines. Cooling never got any traction in the real science community!”

Really? Then explain this away…

Letter from the Australian Federal Minister for Science, W.L. (Bill) Morrison, to the President of the Academy of Science, Professor Badger, January 9, 1975:

Dear Professor Badger,
I am writing on this occasion to enquire if the Academy could assist the Government by examining, and reporting on, claims recently made in the media, and apparently also by competent scientists that the earth’s climate is changing and that a new ice-age could be on the way.The Prime Minister [Gough Whitlam] is very interested in this subject and is anxious to obtain the best possible advice about it. As an interim measure towards that end, I sought, and obtained, a short report from Dr Gibbs, Director of Meteorology, and Dr Priestley, Chairman of the CSIRO Environmental Physics Research Laboratories…I am now anxious to have the subject examined in more detail and at greater length…Since the enquiry stems primarily from concern about man and the possible effects of climatic changes on him [I think Bill means ‘him or her’] , it seems to me that it should reflect not only the input of those expert in the physical sciences but also that of those expert in the biological sciences…I would be most grateful to have your views at your earliest convenience.

… The Academy swung into action, mustering eleven of its finest minds and a three-man secretariat for the job. The eventual report, delivered a year later, ran to 80 pages…:

In the 1960s some scientists extrapolated from the warming trend evident between 1895 and 1940 and predicted the melting of the ice caps and the consequent flooding of the world’s seaports. There was then thought to be some rational justification for their warnings, namely the warming effect associated with the global increase of CO2 caused by the burning of fossil fuels (Matthews et al, 1971). However, since 1940 the temperature curve has reversed its direction [despite significant increase in CO2 emissions – TT]. It is just as precipitate now for scientists to postulate that the present downturn presages an imminent glaciation as it was for their collegues (sic) to forecast the melting of the ice caps 20 years ago [1955]…Nevertheless the historical record…does not preclude a change lasting for some decades or even centuries to a regime colder than what is called by some northern hemisphere climatologists the ‘climatic optimum’ of the 1940s-50s. (page 14)

…The Academy report began,

During the past few years, there have been reports of a persistent cooling trend in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere, crop failures in the USSR, severe droughts in the Sahel region of Africa, and failures in the Indian monsoon rains. Some scientists have interpreted these events as showing that the global climate is changing [i.e. cooling, TT] in such a way as to make conditions of man more difficult and these views have received widespread publicity through the mass media.

Following the concern expressed at the World Food Conference in November 1974 about the possible effects of this predicted climatic change on agricultural production and the world’s food supply, the Australian Government requested the Academy to report to it on these assertions. The Government was especially interested in their possible significance for Australia…

The report comes to a ringing conclusion:

We conclude that there is no evidence that the world is now on the brink of a major climatic change. There is ample evidence that the world’s climate has changed widely during the geological past, and while there is every expectation that it will continue to change in the future, the time scale of these changes is in the range of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years rather than decades or centuries.

It cannot be too strongly emphasised that year-to-year variability is an inherent feature of global and regional climates and that…large fluctuations leading to severe droughts and floods are bound to occur from time to time.

Sigh. Remember the days when scientists prided themselves on keeping perspective and sticking to the evidence?

Thomas goes on to offer a telling contrast with alarmist scientists today.

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9 thoughts on “Global cooling alarmists 40 years ago

    • It is an extremely strong hurricane that turned out to be not so bad after all. It has been recorded as the strongest on record but others may have been stronger.

      “By late Saturday morning, Patricia had been downgraded to a tropical depression, sapped by mountainous terrain, with 35-mph sustained winds. It’s expected to dissipate Saturday night. There were no reports of fatalities or major damage.”

      CNN report, October 24, 2015

      Nevertheless, all that said, my view is not that global warming has not occurred over the past 100 years; the evidence can’t be ignored. My position is that it is ill-advised to blame human activity for it. So if stronger hurricanes come with increased global warming (if they do, I don’t know) then there is nothing humans can do to prevent it. Certainly with modern innovation we can mitigate the effects where possible. Will a coming period of global cooling change that situation? We’ll have to wait and see.


      • In terms of lowest central pressure I believe it was (briefly) the third most intense hurricane on record (the ‘worst’ was Typhoon Tip in 1979; Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 was also one of the worst, notably in terms of wind speeds). Fortunately Patricia hit a sparsely populated area of Mexico.

        Your ‘do nothing about emissions’ suggestion is I suspect religiously (not biblically though) motivated denial of the international scientific consensus. Correlation does not prove causation but it strongly suggests it.


      • No, my position comes from my own evaluation of the data. I also believe there is a reasonable case for solar irradiance driving the weather. Yes, correlation does not prove causation. Yet increased global temperatures are not correlated with carbon dioxide emissions during the decades of global cooling.


  1. “increased global temperatures are not correlated with carbon dioxide emissions during the decades of global cooling.” There has been correlation for around the past 40 years (some of the mid 20 th century cooling or lack of warming was caused by human pollution eg sulphate aerosols emitted into the atmosphere).


    • Not so. There is no correlation with increasing carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere and decreasing global temperatures during the cooling decades. It is not proven that aerosols produced the cooling effect then. To say so would be special pleading. You can propose it but you cannot prove it. This is the whole problem with climate models, and now add to that unrepeatable past temperature data (hence untestable).


    • I published the metoffice data (up to and including 2014 data) on my related post as mentioned in the article here. It may be found in Fig 2. here. On the timescale of the presented data the additional data (not shown) for 2015 makes little difference, and, in fact, continues to support a pause in the warming trend. But I do not question the fact of global warming over the last century. I only question mankind’s contribution.


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