1980: Cronkite on Climate

January 23, 2013

Perhaps if the late Senator Paul Tsongas had lived, more progress could have been made by now.

More instructive history for those that still think climate change started as a UN plot in 2006.

For more historical perspective in video, see below:






46 Responses to “1980: Cronkite on Climate”

  1. daveburton Says:

    “The data shows that average temperatures in the Arctic have fallen dramatically over the last 30 years. In most locations, the drop has been about 2 degrees C. At that rate, the descent to ice age temperatures could take less than 200 years.” (Leonard Nimoy narrating, circa 1978)

    • mhr900 Says:

      So what Dave, lets look at the science journals of that time shall we, like a true sceptic would.




      Gees most(by a long way) where predicting warming not cooling. what a surprise.

    • Martin Lack Says:

      In the 1970s, Dave, scientists were briefly concerned about the possibility of an approaching Ice Age (but then got post-WW2 industrial pollution under control and the warming trend re-emerged).

      Are you not tired of going down the up escalator yet?

      Please take time out to read the new National Climate Assessment, it may prevent you from making some bad property investment decisions in North Carolina.

      The apparent hiatus in warming (albeit with record-breaking temperatures, droughts, storms, glacier melting, permafrost thawing [etc] continuing) can be explained by non-human climate forcings. The long-term warming trend of the last 150 years cannot. End of story.

      Please read this 2009 post from Patrice Ayme:

      • daveburton Says:

        The long-term warming trend of the last 150 years = the end of the Little Ice Age (which followed the end of the Dalton Minimum).

        Did you click the link?

        • Martin Lack Says:

          No. Since I have demonstrated that it is irrelevant, why should I?

          Did you click on any of my links? If not, I doubt this one will fare any better:

          • daveburton Says:

            What you’ve demonstrated is that what “the data shows” is irrelevant to your opinions, Martin. You know what you believe, you don’ need no stinkin’ data.

            In fact, Nimoy wasn’t lying. That is what the data was showing, back then.

            Re: “We know that from the end of the LIA to the 1950s the sun’s output increased. But since WW2 the sun has slowly grown quieter, yet the temperature on Earth has gone up.”

            Partly true, but the sun hasn’t really grown much quieter “since WWII.” It’s really only grown significantly quieter since the start of the 21st century. Solar Cycles 20 & 23 were slightly below average, but Solar Cycles 21 & 22 were slightly above average. Solar Cycle 24 is the first really quiet solar cycle in a century. Cycles 23 and 24 both represent significant declines in solar activity, which, interestingly enough, correlates well with the apparent cessation in warming over the last ~15 years.

            Re: “The sceptical argument that current warming is a continuation of the same warming that ended the LIA is unlikely.”

            Arguable. But what is inarguable is that the rise in sea level which began with the end of the LIA has not accelerated at all in response to ~ 2/3 centory of anthropogenic CO2. In fact, the best data shows a slight deceleration in rate of sea level rise coincident with the big post-WWII increase in anthropogenic GHG emissions and levels.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            “But what is inarguable is that the rise in sea level which began with the end of the LIA has not accelerated at all in response to ~ 2/3 centory of anthropogenic CO2” – Refusnik, Dave Burton in January 2013

            Even a child could do a search on Google Scholar to establish that you are wrong.

          • daveburton Says:

            Martin, if you’d bother to actually study those papers, you’d understand your error.

            The first paper that comes up when you do that search is, unsurprisingly, Church & White 2006. They fit a quadratic to averaged and adjusted tide gauge data, and detected a small acceleration in rate of sea level rise for the 20th century as a whole. But it turns out that all of that acceleration occurred in the first quarter of the 20th century (and the late 19th century). After 1925, their data showed a small deceleration in rate of sea level rise, rather than acceleration.

            Since nearly all of the anthropogenic contribution to CO2 levels occurred after 1925, that means Church & White detected no acceleration in rate of sea level rise in response to anthropogenic CO2.

            Plus, despite the title of their paper, the error bar for the acceleration they found even for the 20th century as a whole extends down to zero.

            Plus, though they didn’t mention it in their paper, their data showed that post-1930 acceleration was slightly negative (i.e., sea-level rise decelerated).

            What’s more, in that paper they mentioned briefly that they had added a fudge factor to the data: “An additional spatially uniform [but not temporally uniform!!] field is included in the reconstruction to represent changes in GMSL. Omitting this field results in a much smaller rate of GMSL rise…”

            What’s more, in that paper they noted that, thus far, they were the only researchers to detect any acceleration in rate of sea level rise during the 20th century.

            Three years later, in 2009, Church & White released a new data set, based on a different set of tide gauges. I applied their 2006 analysis method to the new data. I found that it not only showed deceleration in sea level rise after 1925, all of the acceleration in sea level rise for the full 20th century was also gone. I shared my results with Drs. Church & White, and on June 18, 2010, Dr. Church replied, confirming my analysis: “For the 1901 to 2007 period, again we agree with your result and get a non-significant and small deceleration.”

            Two years after that, in 2011, Church & White released a third data set. This one shows a very slight, statistically insignificant acceleration in sea level rise after 1925, though much smaller in magnitude than the deceleration seen in their other data sets. The post-1925 acceleration in this data set, if it continued to 2080, would add just 0.8 inches of sea level rise, compared to a linear projection.

            Even the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report noted the “observational finding of no acceleration in sea level rise during the 20th century.”

            Here are some other noteworthy papers on this subject:

          • Martin Lack Says:

            If you were to analyse all the papers (or maybe just the first 20) you will find the bulk of the more recent work confirms SLR is accelerating. You are cherry-picking the paper that best-supports your a priori assumption that humans are not to blame.

          • daveburton Says:

            Martin, you’re hilarious. If you don’t believe the papers, then just take a look at the graphed tide gauge data.

            Click on the station names to see NOAA’s graphs. I encourage you to look at all 159 of them. It’ll take perhaps 20-30 minutes. See how many of them seem to show acceleration (a few of the ones with the shortest, low-quality records.) See how many don’t (the vast majority).

            The great majority of the best tide gauge records from all around the world show no evidence at all of accelerated sea level rise coincident with the last 3/4 century or so of increased CO2 & other GHG emissions and levels. The only way to create the illusion of statistically significant acceleration is by scientific malpractice: e.g., by conflating measurements in different locations (like Tamino did, conflating coastal tide-gauges with mid-ocean satellite altimetry), or cherry-picking atypical tide gauges and/or examining too-short periods and/or too-small areas (like Sallenger did), or (perhaps if you’re in bed with a big reinsurance company like Munich Re with a strong pecuniary interest in alarmist predictions) you could fit random noise fluctuations to “semi-empirical” models with enough arbitrary parameters to let you wiggle an elephant’s trunk.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            This is no laughing matter Dave, and your persistent cherry-picking to fit your pre-determined story is very worrying indeed.

            Given that we have only really begun to see terrestrial ice melting accelerate in the last couple of decades, it is hardly surprising that SLR acceleration is only now becoming obvious. What is important, however, is that basic physics allowed us to predict that it would happen and, irrespective of whether you like it or not, it is now doing so.

            What is therefore sad is that so many people like you are still willing to try and pick a fight with history and science.

          • daveburton Says:

            Martin, how is it “cherry-picking” to tell you to examine all of NOAA’s tide station graphs?

            Please look at the graphs. There is no way to avoid noticing the fact that there’s been no acceleration in rate of sea level rise in the last 80 years.

            The satellites show deceleration (though I don’t think their measurements are trustworthy). The averaged tide gauges also show (slight) deceleration.

            There is no acceleration in rate of sea-level rise, period.

            Moreover, “basic physics” does not predict accelerated sea-level rise. Climate models do. The fact that ~ 3/4 century of intense GHG emissions have not resulted in any acceleration in rate of sea-level rise falsifies the models that predicted it.

            If you do not understand the significance of that fact, then you must not understand the Scientific Method. It is what distinguishes “science” from other types of study. It is an algorithm or process for investigating the physical world. Here’s how it is supposed to work, in seven steps:

            1. The scientist observes the available data.

            2. He formulates an hypothesis to explain the observations.

            3. He derives testable predictions from the hypothesis.

            4. He devises tests or observations to test the testable predictions.

            5. He does the tests or makes the observations.

            6. If the test results match the predictions, he cries “eureka!” and publishes. He can now properly call his hypothesis a theory or theoretical model. He publishes it along with his data and detailed calculations, so that other scientists can reproduce and verify his work.

            7. If the test results fail to match the predictions, the theory is said to be “falsified,” so he discards or revises it and starts over at step 2, with the new observations or test results added to the body of available data.

            Step 7 is the test of a scientist’s integrity. If, instead of discarding or revising falsified theories or models, a researcher revises the data, to make it fit his predictions, he’s no scientist worthy of the name.

            Unfortunately, much of what passes for “climate science” these days fails that test.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            Dave, climate models predicted polar warming would be greatest and, in general, it is: The only reason parts of Antarctica are not warming as fast is the hole in the ozone layer.

            Accelerating SLR is inevitable given the observable acceleration in global terrestrial ice melting since the 1980s. Saying it ain’t so, does not change the fact that it is. As per the quote from John Dryzek on my ‘About’ page:
            “The driver of an accelerating car about to hit a brick wall might well say ‘so far so good’ – but that does not mean that the wall is not there!” .

            However, because there is no sign that you are listening to me, this conversation is now over.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            Damn HTML syntax! Apart from the final quote, the only other words in bold were supposed to be parts of… Any chance of it being edited, Peter?

          • daveburton Says:

            Don’t worry about the botched HTML tags, Martin. I do that all the time.

            Your faith in the climate models is misplaced. There’s nothing “inevitable” about accelerated sea-level rise.

            The “observable acceleration in global terrestrial ice melting since the 1980s” is questionable, too. Our measurements of coastal sea-level are much more reliable, and of much longer duration, than the recent attempts to calculate ice melt from various sources. The fact remains that the rate of sea-level rise has not accelerated in the last 80 years. So if, as you believe, ice melt really has accelerated, you’ve got to wonder, where is the water going?

            How long do you think it should take, before sea-level rise responds measurably to GHG forcings? Mankind has been driving up GHG levels dramatically for over 2/3 century, and, thus far, there’s been no acceleration in rate of sea level rise at all.

            We’ve done the experiment, and we know the result: anthropogenic GHG forcings do not significantly increase the rate of sea-level rise.

            In fact, the net effect of groundwater extraction and reduced reservoir impoundment should have caused some acceleration in rate of sea-level rise over the last few decades, even without any effect from GHG-driven warming & melting, but it hasn’t happened. That suggests that the contribution to sea-level rise from meltwater is decreasing, rather than increasing.

        • Alteredstory Says:

          So basically, you’re lying about the rate of warming to make your point. Why are you doing that?

          The VAST majority of warming was in the 20th century, and the majority of THAT warming was in the second half of the 20th century.

          If it warms at a rate 1/10th of a degree per century after the “little ice age”, and then suddenly goes to five or six degrees per century, the only POSSIBLE motivation for saying “it’s been warming for 150 years”, while ignoring the change in rate, is to mislead people.

          Why do you want to mislead people, Dave?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      oops, I forgot to add this one

    • g2-b31f1590b0e74a6d1af4639162aa7f3f Says:

      So now you’ve stooped to citing an old episode of “In Search Of”???? Give me a $#@!ing break!

      • greenman3610 Says:

        deniers have to go with what they’ve got.
        waiting for Anthony Watts to cite one about the Gods from Outer Space.

      • daveburton Says:

        It’s an accurate presentation of the scientific consensus of the day, g2-b31f1590b0e74a6d1af4639162aa7f3f.

        (And what’s with that bizarre user id, anyhow?)

        • Alteredstory Says:

          You’re lying again, Dave. That particular lie has been debunked so many times, it’s pretty much impossible that you don’t know you’re lying.

          Why are you lying, Dave?

        • Alteredstory Says:

          “So, you’re accusing Leonard Nimoy of lying?

          Well, you’re wrong. I remember it.”

          No, I’m accusing Leonard Nimoy of being wrong. It’s possible he didn’t know any better – he is, after all, an actor, not a scientist.

          I’m accusing YOU of lying because the claim you made has been thoroughly debunked many, many times, and yet you keep making it.

          • daveburton Says:

            One of the striking attributes of the Climate Movement is their pervasive lying. One of the frequent lies is that proven facts have been “debunked.”

            I am not Peter Gleick. I don’t lie. I remember the scientific consensus in the 1970s: that air pollution was driving down temperatures, with potentially catastrophic consequences, including a likely return to Little Ice Age conditions. It was widely reported in the press, and taught in the schools. It was a major impetus for the drive to curb air pollution from factories, power plants, and automobiles.

            The CIA summarized the scientific consensus in this report:

            Click to access 1974.pdf

          • Deniers are happy handling stolen property. That’s ok then.

  2. Martin Lack Says:

    More instructive history for those that still think climate change started as a UN plot in 2006.

    Peter, I know this is your usual sarcasm, but, in reality, our problem is people – mainly non climate scientists like Andrew Montford (i.e. author of The Hockey Stick Illusion) – who think climate change started as a WMO/UN/IPCC conspiracy in the early 1980s.

  3. You missed this one:

    In 1965 President Johnson gave a special message to congress which noted:

    “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through . . . a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”


  4. rayduray Says:

    Quoting Paul Kingsnorth: “In 2012, the bureaucrats, the activists, and the ministers gathered again in Rio for a stock-taking exercise called Rio+20. It was accompanied by the usual shrill demands for optimism and hope, but there was no disguising the hollowness of the exercise. Every environmental problem identified at the original Earth Summit has gotten worse in the intervening twenty years, often very much worse, and there is no sign of this changing.”


    Needless to say, I won’t be holding my breath until Washington’s politicians take effective action on climate change.

    Preparing for our future:

    • daveburton Says:

      Kingsnorth’s completely wrong about the environment, but the video is nice.

      BTW, at least 15% of the grass he’s mowing is from accelerated growth due to current elevated CO2 levels. Despite Peter’s confusion, as any greenhouse operator could tell you, CO2 is plant fertilizer.

      • Alteredstory Says:

        Aaaaand, you’re lying again. CO2, up to a certain point, does enhance growth, but only a little, and it does not have NEARLY the same impact as water, which is why net primary productivity has DECREASED, worldwide, as heat and drought have increased along with CO2 levels.

        • daveburton Says:

          I never lie.

          There’s been no statistically identifiable increase in droughts correlated with increased CO2 levels, but there has been a dramatic increase in crop yields. Net agricultural productivity has increased dramatically, worldwide, as CO2 levels have increased. For instance, average corn yields have doubled in just the last 30 years.

          Now, not all of that improvement, nor even most of it, is due to CO2, but the CO2 helped substantially.

          If you triple the amount of water to a typical crop, you’ll kill it. If you triple the amount of CO2, it just grows dramatically faster. Increased CO2 improves drought resistance, and CO2 enhances plant growth a dramatically, and it does so even at levels far higher than we could ever reach by burning fossil fuels. E.g.,

      • rayduray Says:

        Re: “Despite Peter’s confusion, as any greenhouse operator could tell you, CO2 is plant fertilizer.”

        ROTFL. Dave, you’re more fun than a tank of nitrous oxide. 🙂

        I look forward to many more opportunities to guffaw about your comments. Thanks for the caricature. Speaking of caricatures, I’m imagining you to be a huge fan of that old fraudulent fart Lord Monckton.

        For my money, I prefer Lord Buckley, albeit from the grave.

      • daveburton Says:

        America’s greatest living physicist agrees with me:

  5. “BTW, at least 15% of the grass he’s mowing is from accelerated growth due to current elevated CO2 levels.”


    • daveburton Says:

      One of the greatest boons leading to improved agricultural productivity is increased atmospheric CO2. E.g., at 570 ppm CO2, “trees grew 26 percent more than those exposed to normal levels of carbon dioxide.” Similar studies with food crops show similar, and sometimes even more dramatic, results. The benefit of increased CO2 is particularly pronounced for C3-photosynthesis plants, which includes most grasses & grains (other than corn).

      The benefits of increased CO2 for enhancing plant growth shouldn’t surprise you, because the scarcity of CO2 is the primary limiting factor for plant growth on planet Earth.

      On Venus and Mars nearly all the oxygen in the atmosphere is in the form of CO2. But on Earth, 99.8% of the oxygen in the atmosphere is in the form of O2, and only 0.04% is in CO2, even though fires and animal respiration are constantly producing CO2 from O2.

      Why do you think that is true, Jhan? The correct answer is that it’s because CO2-hungry living things have stripped nearly all the CO2 from the atmosphere.

      That’s why, although 21% of the Earth’s atmosphere is O2, CO2 levels are measured in mere parts-per-million.

  6. Dill Weed Says:

    I couldn’t help but think of Dave in the 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    Why are you lying Dave?


  7. From above:

    I am not Peter Gleick. I don’t lie. I remember the scientific consensus in the 1970s: that air pollution was driving down temperatures, with potentially catastrophic consequences, including a likely return to Little Ice Age conditions.

    Now, this is flat-out delusional. Any serious review of the scientific literature of the time would reveal that the overall consensus was for long-term warming (due to greenhouse-gas forcing), not cooling.

    The popular “global-cooling” claims at the time were based on the misreading of a single paper authored by Rasool/Schneider. But a quick look at the abstract will reveal that the Rasool/Schneider paper *cannot* be used to support that claim.

    Here is the abstract in its entirety (emphasis added):

    Effects on the global temperature of large increases in carbon dioxide and aerosol densities in the atmosphere of Earth have been computed. It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For aerosols, however, the net effect of increase in density is to reduce the surface temperature of Earth. Because of the exponential dependence of the backscattering, the rate of temperature decrease is augmented with increasing aerosol content. An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5°K . If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.

    Two major takeaway points:

    1) The paper speculated about the possibility of an ice-age *onlyif global aerosol levels quadrupled from their already high levels circa 1970. But aerosol levels didn’t do that — they declined. So even if the paper were correct about aerosol loading and cooling, the scenario laid out in the paper never came to pass in the first place.

    2) The conclusions of the paper turned out to be incorrect due to a misapplication of Hansen’s atmospheric computer model. Not long after the paper was published, Schneider realized that he and Rasool (the lead author was Rasool, not Scbneider BTW) had applied James Hansen’s model incorrectly — they failed to include the stratosphere in the calculations (not thinking that it was important at the time). When Schneider reran the model with the stratosphere included, the possibility of triggering an ice-age vanished — greenhouse-gas forcing would still “win out” over even very large aerosol loading in the long term.

    The deniers’ ice-age claim hinges on a misreading of a single paper that itself turned out to be wrong.

    • daveburton Says:

      That’s nonsense, caerbannog666. The looming-ice-age threat was consensus science, and it predated that 1971 paper.

      Because of increased dust, cloud cover and water vapor, “the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.” Newsweek magazine, Jan. 26, 1970

      “The United States and the Soviet Union are mounting large-scale investigations to determine why the Arctic climate is becoming more frigid, why parts of the Arctic sea ice have recently become ominously thicker and whether the extent of that ice cover contributes to the onset of ice ages.” New York Times, July 18, 1970

      Did you even bother to read the 1974 CIA report, the link to which I posted above?

      No, of course not. Nimoy, Time, Newsweek, Life Magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, the CIA – they all lied, you think, because admitting that they told the truth challenges your worldview.

      In fact, they didn’t lie. They truthfully reported the scientific consensus, just as I remember it. It’s today’s Climate Movement revisionists, who don’t want you to know what the leading climatologists were saying in the early & mid-1970s, that are lying.

  8. rayduray Says:


    One might consider this a media item. I do wonder how Kronkite might report this one.

    The Guardian newspaper today published an interesting article about Anonymous hackers and the Dept. of Justice. I found the video presented here to be engaging:


  9. Mike Roddy Says:

    We need a triple play for the Koch Brothers:

    1. Trial at the World Court
    2. Indictment leading to imprisonment if they leave the US, via international warrants
    3. Seizure of all of their assets, to be donated to a climate relief fund

    If Americans like us lobbied the World Court, it might produce results. Politicians won’t help, but the World Court is designed to work for the people. Such a move would be welcomed in Europe and many other countries.

    Anybody here want to help pull this off? We will be in Europe in August and again in December for COP in Poland. If you want to participate, contact me via facebook.

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