The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley

June 7, 2013

One of the golden oldies of climate denial – “In the 70s, They predicted an Ice Age” – is ever new in denio-world. But then, in denio-world, you get points, not for being right, but for creating confusion. That is the goal and the game.

Above, one of my earliest videos, still kind of fun. I’m reposting this piece by David Kirtley from Greg Laden’s blog, hope nobody minds.

Greg Laden’s Blog:

This is a guest post by David Kirtley. David originally posted this as a Google Doc, and I’m reproducing his work here with his permission.  Just the other day I was speaking to a climate change skeptic who made mention of an old Time or Newsweek (he was not sure) article that talked about fears of a coming ice age. There were in fact a number of articles back in the 1970s that discussed the whole Ice Age problem, and I’m not sure what my friend was referring to. But here, David Kirtley places a recent meme that seems to be an attempt to diffuse concern about global warming because we used to be worried about global cooling. The meme, however, is not what it seems to be. And, David places the argument that Ice Age Fears were important and somehow obviate the science in context.

The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers

– by David Kirtley

A few days ago a facebook friend of mine posted the following image:

From the 1977 cover we can see that apparently a new ice age was supposed to arrive. Only 30 years later, according to the 2006 cover, global warming is supposed to be the problem. But the cover on the left isn’t from 1977. It actually is this Time cover from April 9, 2007:

As you can see, the cover title has nothing to do with an imminent ice age, it’s about global warming, as we might expect from a 2007 Time magazine.

The faked image illustrates one of the fake-skeptics’ favorite myths: The 1970s Ice Age Scare. It goes something like this:

  • In the 1970s the scientists were all predicting global cooling and a future ice age.
  • The media served as the scientists’ lapdog parroting the alarming news.
  • The ice age never came—the scientists were dead wrong.
  • Now those same scientists are predicting global warming (or is it “climate change” now?)

The entire purpose of this myth is to suggest that scientists can’t be trusted, that they will say/claim/predict whatever to get their names in the newspapers, and that the media falls for it all the time. They were wrong about ice ages in the 1970s, they are wrong now about global warming.

I searched around on Time’s website and looked through all of the covers from the 1970s. I was shocked (shocked!) to find not a single cover with the promise of an in-depth, special report on the Coming Ice Age. What about this cover from December 1973 with Archie Bunker shivering in his chair entitled “The Big Freeze”? Nope, that’s about the Energy Crisis. Maybe this cover from January 1977, again entitled “The Big Freeze”? Nope, that’s about the weather. How about this one from December 1979, “The Cooling of America”? Again with the Energy Crisis.

Now, there really were news articles in the 1970s about scientists predicting a coming ice age. Time had a piece called “Another Ice Age?” in 1974. Time’s competition, Newsweek, joined in with “The Cooling World” in 1975. People have collected lists and lists of “Coming Ice Age” stories from newspapers, magazines, books, tv shows, etc. throughout the 1970s.

But if it was such a big news story why did it never make the cover of America’s flagship news magazine like the faked image implies? Perhaps there is more to the story.

In the 1970s there were a few developments in climate science:

  • Scientists were finding answers to the puzzle of what caused ice ages in the past: variations in earth’s orbit.
  • Scientists were gathering data from around the world to come up with global average temperatures, and they found that temperatures had been cooling since about the 1940s.
  • Scientists were realizing that some of this cooling was due to increasing air pollution (soot and aerosols, tiny particles suspended in the air) which was decreasing the amount of solar energy entering the atmosphere.
  • Scientists were also quantifying the “greenhouse effect” of another part of our increasing pollution: carbon dioxide (CO2), which should cause the climate to warm.

The realization that very long cycles in earth’s orbit could cause the waxing and waning of ice ages, coupled with the fact that our soot and aerosols were already causing cooling, led some scientists to conclude that we may be headed for another ice age. Exactly when was still a little unclear. However, the warming effects of CO2 had been known for over a century, and new research in the 1970s was showing that CO2 warming would more than compensate for the cooling caused by aerosols, resulting in net warming.

This, in a very brief nutshell, was the state of climate science in the 1970s. And so the media of the time published many stories about a coming ice age, which made for timely reading during some very cold winters. But many news stories also mentioned that other important detail about CO2: that our climate might soon change due to global warming. In 1976 Time published “The World’s Climate: Unpredictable” which is a very good summary of the then current scientific thinking: some scientists emphasized aerosols and cooling, some scientists emphasized CO2 and warming. There was no consensus either way. Many other 1970s articles which mention a Coming Ice Age also mention the possibility of increased warming due to CO2. For instance,herehere and here.

Fake-skeptics read these stories and only focus on the Coming Ice Age angle, and they enlarge the importance of those scientists who focused on that angle. They totally ignore the rest of the picture of 1970s climate science: that increasing CO2 would cause global warming.

The purpose of the image of the two Time magazine covers, and of the Coming Ice Age Myth, is not to show the real history of climate science, but to obscure that history and to cause confusion. It seems to be working. Because today, when there really is a consensus about climate science and 97% of climatologists agree that adding CO2 to the atmosphere is leading to climate change, only 45% of the public know about that consensus. The other 55% must think we’re still in the 1970s when scientists were still debating the issue. Seems newsworthy to me, maybe Time will run another cover story on it.


97 Responses to “The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley”

  1. omnologos Says:

    I agree the “Ice Age” claim is a distraction. So is the focus on debunking the media-fuelled “myth” by creating another myth, namely that scientists at the time were cautious when speaking with the press, and realized how little they knew.

    They weren’t, and they didn’t.

    I hope we all agree that between 1972 and 1975 the consensus among scientists was that the world was cooling, i.e. they were in a global cooling stage. It’s all written in the scientific literature, and disagreeing with that is actual denial of history.

    ps it’s absurd to keep mentioning the 97% made-up number. Please grow up.

    • No, we don’t agree the 1972-1975 consenus was cooling. It wasn’t.

      It’s absurd to continue denying the 97% behind the consensus; there are multiple studies to support this number.

      Please grow up.

      • omnologos Says:

        JHS – you’re wasting your time. “Scientists were gathering data from around the world to come up with global average temperatures, and they found that temperatures had been cooling since about the 1940s”. Says who? (I won’t tell you)

        “By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood”. Says who? (I won’t tell you either)

        OTOH if you were only to speak about topics you knew anything about, there would be a lot less of you on the ‘net.

        • I may well be wasting my time. The facts are on my side. You don’t provide citations so I feel free not to myself.

          Based upon your “OTOH if you were only to speak about topics you knew anything about, there would be a lot less of you on the ‘net.” I presume you shall cease posting forthwith.

        • Jason Says:

          I’m just going to pop in and say that even though prominent scientists such as Schneider were indeed concerned that cooling trends would continue (though we now know that CO2 would eventually overwhelm the cooling influence of particulate emissions) one of the reasons that the prediction turned out to be wrong was because of concerted efforts by industrialised nations to clean up industrial emissions. (Richard Alley explains with pictures –

          What’s fascinating is not that predictions go wrong, but why and what we learn from it.

        • You are clueless! Mitchell took weather station data in 1963 a temperature reconstruction like GISS then again in 1973. But yet on your web site you use it to claim it and the CIA Reports as supporting the global Cooling ice age myth. So are you now saying that it cooled in the NH From the 40s to the 70s. That a forecast on the future was up in the air with which was the major player human dust or co2? So no consensus.

          So you are saying that your web site is wrong? Then I will agree with that. But you play on words but you cannot have it both ways.

          • omnologos Says:

            Passenger and unfamiliar with words, apparently.

            Let me try again.

            Mitchell in 1972 established the world had been cooling for some time.

            There was no published work against that for three years (“widely accepted”).

            Then in 1975 other scientists found that most of the cooling had happened in the Northern Hemisphere (“poorly understood”). This is the consensus to this day: temps decreased between 1940s and the 1970s.

            And that’s about observations.

            As for further cooling (forecasts) once again Mitchell had no indication things were going to turn around. Neither did anybody until the completeness of the record was challenged in 1975.

            Thereafter confusion ensued and in 1979 the Milwaukee Sentinel could report the AAAS had reached a “consensus” that the future was going to be warmer and cooler “although not at the same time”.

            In the meanwhile concerned scientists had been eagerly morphed the global cooling consensus into a media friendly scare story about ice ages, the end of civilization and even “ice surges” and “snowblitz”. Hence the “myth” was and is not a “myth”, rather an example of science succumbing to sensationalism in the media.

          • omnologos:”And that’s about observations.

            As for further cooling (forecasts) once again Mitchell had no indication things were going to turn around. Neither did anybody until the completeness of the record was challenged in 1975.

            Apparently you did not read his work.

            Mitchell in 1972 it is “The natural breakdown of the present interglacial and its possible intervention by human activities”


            “It is concluded that the net impact of human activities on the climate of future decades and centuries is quite likely to be one of warming, and therefore favorable to the perpetuation of the present interglacial.”

            Sounds like he had more of an indication things were going to turn around to warm. But your myth about “Mitchell in 1972” is stronger than reality.

          • omnologos Says:

            Accp – “decades”? “centuries”? Why don’t you tell us when the cooling turned around and became a warming?

          • So you are saying that he is forecasting a new ice age while stating it will be warming? Talk about backpedalling.
            To answer your question we have to look at his work (It is called research ).
            J. Murray Mitchell Jr
            “A Preliminary Evaluation of Atmospheric Pollution as a Cause of the Global Temperature Fluctuation of the Past Century” 1970

            “Although changes of total atmospheric dust loading may possibly be sufficient to account for the observed 0.3°C-cooling of the earth since 1940, the human-derived contribution to these loading changes is inferred to have played a very minor role in the temperature decline.

            Of the two forms of pollution, it appears that the carbon dioxide increase is several times more influential in raising planetary temperatures than the human-derived particulate loading increase is in lowering planetary temperatures. If, however, the doubling times of particulate loading and CO2 accumulation remain unchanged in the future (15 to 20 years and 23 years, respectively), a further warming of the order of 1°C or more will culminate sometime after 2000 A.D., followed by a net cooling as the particulate loading effect ultimately overtakes the CO2 effect. Other environmental agencies, presumably natural ones, are required to account for the main part of the observed fluctuation of world-average temperatures during the past century, and will continue to exert an important influence on climate in the future.”

            So are you able to comprehend that his is saying we will be warming as the up and coming forecast. So he had more of a clue then you about what he thought.

            Click to access Aerosols.pdf

            and again “Indeed, long-term increases of particulates pollution of the atmosphere by man may serve to augment , rather than oppose, other warming effects of human activities such as the increase carbon dioxide content and direct thermal pollution of the atmosphere. “

            What really points to the fact (about Mitchell )is to look at Mitchell featured here “Carbon dioxide and future climate” in weatherwise. 1991
            “In 1977 the Next Ice Age was the hot topic of popular climate-change conjecture, and the late Murray Mitchell was one of the scientists warning that global warming was of more immediate concern.” Note that this was before before the ice age myth that you and the other loons use.


          • The last got clipped.

            It should end:

            Not sure how you can backpedal about your “once again Mitchell had no indication things were going to turn around.”

            Really read and comprehend the scientific literature of the time and you cannot help to see the consensus myth. So now once again reality trumps omnologos-lity

          • omnologos Says:

            I stated the Ice Age prediction was media hype. Then you accuse me of claiming otherwise. You have zero reading comprehension yourself.

            As for when cooling became warming, that’s your little secret. Hint: it happened earlier than Mitchell thought.

          • So let get this straight; Ice age from the 70s is a myth (you just agreed) but:

            Not according to “World Exclusive: CIA 1974 Document Reveals Emptiness of AGW Scares, Closes Debate On Global Cooling Consensus (And More…)”


            Where you posted in Il Foglio: “ Paradoxically, the consensus at the time was more credible than today: at the time there was no IPCC (the intergovernmental panel created by the United Nations to study the impact of man on climate), whereby the consent is created by comparing studies that came from all over the world without a central control entity (and censorship). Proponents of global warming caused by man have always denied that years ago there was a consensus among scientists about global cooling.

            Looks like you’re supporting the Ice age myth. By obfuscating Ice age as global cooling with the sane end result. You post at the bottom “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” Those where the Ice age myths but you agreed as hype.

            After posting information about warming forecasting by Mitchell, you still are claiming “As for further cooling (forecasts) once again Mitchell had no indication things were going to turn around.”

            Which you continue misusing to support you’re BS here and on your page “…think again after reading this little gem of theirs…”Quote mining and ignoring Mitchell’s actual work.

            You are unable to show a consensus in the scientific literature and ignoring your on post above showing cognitive dissonance (which of you are correct? You now or you then). We must have deleted the scientific literature in secret but the media saved you.

            How do you deal with this dissonance?

            FYI they are two CIA reports on this topic at the same time by the same group. I have both. (More much later)

          • omnologos Says:

            Accp – I write “global cooling” and you pontificate about “ice age”. You seem to be having a conversation with yourself, and by the look of it, it’s quite animated too!

            Enjoy it!

          • So ignoring the questions so let restate one last time.
            Please reconcile your stated view here verses your post listed above on global cooling along with you insistence of Mitchell view and with your inability to show consensus in the scientific literature.

            It is obvious that you have conflicting views between you here verses you at your web site. It is clear to everyone who has read this thread that you are lying or lying to yourself. Your absents of answer just confirms the fact.

          • omnologos Says:

            Accp – the only things to reconcile are the last two functioning neurons left in your brains.

            Here’s what I wrote on Nov 12, 2010:

            …“there was no consensus in the 1970s about an ice age“. Yes, there wasn’t…

            I have never pushed the idea of an “Ice Age” consensus in the 1970s and never will. And you would shut up now if you had any acquaintance with wisdom.

      • omnologos Says:

        As for the 97% silliness, none would stick to it if they realised I am in the 97%, so are Eschenbach and Montford and Peiser and most likely Watts and Milloy, so found himself Shaviv, etc etc etc.

        I have a feeling the mythical 3% (more likely, 15-20%) is the likes of PSI and some overpoliticized US republicans.

        • All those studies, all about the same result, all make you angry. Jackpot.

          • omnologos Says:

            QED. Perhaps you’re a bot. You have zero argument.

          • Anyone can quote mine, as you have oft ably demonstrated. ‘ere, get your teeth sunk into this,

          • Omno, you’ve turned your bluster onto “stun”. Impressive.

            All those studies, all the same result. I know – it’s a conspiracy!

          • omnologos Says:

            JHS – you have been arguing against David Kirtley’s own words. Congratulations. And William Connolley’s. Congratulations again.

            You have also repeated the straw man of the “conspiracy”. I have told you a million times I do not believe there is any “conspiracy”. You’re a total fool.

          • Quote mining for fun and profit. But you won’t read the citation. Intriguing.

            You tell us you don’t believe there’s a conspiracy. But you act like you do. How many impossible things before breakfast do you believe? “I do not believe that climate change is a conspiracy, or a hoax of any sort. I do believe there are way too many people taking advantage of the “climate change” meme for their own earthly goals, sometimes in an organized manner, but that doesn’t make CC or AGW a conspiracy as such.”

            Am I a total fool? No, not total. Though I have aspirations. Do I believe you are taking advantage of the “climate change” meme for their own earthly goal, sometimes in an organized manner? As Churchill once said, “Oh yes!”

          • omnologos Says:

            you can’t tell “bandwagon” from “conspiracy” just like you can’t tell “was cooling” from “was going to continue to cool”. You don’t know the difference between observation and prediction. Of course you don’t.

          • You’ve gone from omnologos to obfuscatelogos in one short post. There was no consensus on global cooling. And 97% is a number that multiple studies keep coming up with.

    • perhaps you could inform me what the 3% [or even the 15-20% as you would have it] actually believe?

      is it
      a/ CFCs- cosmic rays and CO2 saturation?
      b/cosmic rays?
      c/ solar output?
      d/ AGW is happening but little feedback?
      e/ AGW is happening lets wait and see?
      f/ CO2 is not a GHG?
      g/ Its natural- CO2?
      h/ It’s natural- cycles of the oceans etc?
      i/ warming isn’t happening- how can you measure global temperature?
      j/ it is mainly land use changes?
      k/ …………… fill in any other reason

      please help because I have no idea what the ‘consensus’ of ‘sceptics’ [I’m being nice] is.

      • omnologos Says:

        there’s no consensus of skeptics, rather skepticism of catastrophes

        I and many others have no problem with W, G and A in AGW. The problem is when a C is added, the world is forecasted to starve and lose all the nicest animals, etc etc unless we all make wind power companies rich and go back to living in caves.

        and in case any eyebrow is raised I’ve been saying the same since 2007. but usually people don’t discuss, rather create their own man of straws and pretend it’s me.

        • evasive but otherwise entirely revealing into the mind of denial.

          So I’m concluding that you think
          warming is natural, it’s the sun, or cosmic rays, or CFCs or all the other ‘suggestions’ are nonsense. climate is changing because of fossil fuel burning.

          you have a problem with c- which makes me wonder why ‘sceptics’ [aren’t I nice] put the c in front of AGW. It becomes c if we carry on adding more ‘petrol to the fire’.

          as for the alternatives- that is policy not science.

          • omnologos Says:


            I don’t think it’s always and only fossil fuels burning, neither does the ipcc.

            there’s no either / or.

            it all comes down to sensitivity. and without a C policies are much different.

          • omnologos Says:

            (still unexplained what I’d be denying)

          • Omnologos- well if you agree with the IPCC report and your issue is only on the severity of the impact of A [man made] GW- caused by FF, industrial agriculture, deforestation, other GHGs, and land use changes- then you are not a denier.

            Nice to have you on side of reason, and you can perhaps get the deniers to be a little more rational.

            So a low range of 1.5-2c warming is manageable according to you. So how do we prevent the upper ranges? Ice loss is having an impact now at 1c. so what tells you it will be ‘not so bad’? Wishful thinking or the weight of scientific evidence?

            Not one scientist has made absolute predictions- scenarios but not definites- why are you so sure everything will be fine?

          • omnologos Says:

            am not sure everything will be fine. I’m sure most “solutions” advocated so far will be worse thandoing nothing (just look at the history of biofuels in the USA).

            And I’m especially sure that any catastrophic prediction will be used against the people to justify all sorts of bad things (like the daylight robbery called ETS)

            I’m all for quake-style adaptation. Find out what makes a community less vulnerable / more resilient to weather phenomena and go for it.

        • Call me superficial, many do. But the man who states “I … have no problem with W, G and A in AGW” also writes Hokey cokey denial.

          • omnologos Says:

            you fail in the irony department as well. perhaps scientists would be interested to know how you disachieve at everything?

          • I understand your dismay. Being caught with your trousers down, flapping around your ankles, is embarrassing. The only way is up…with your trousers.

          • John,
            talk about pants down. Just above 0mn asserts his complete disavowal of conspiracy theories, and then in the pst that you link to he presents a conspiracy scenario as reasonable as a faked moon landing scenario.
            all thoee “co-incidences”. Amazing that at the same time that we have a huge technological revolution that allows us to develop satellites and computers, we simultaneously start spewing enough C02 in the atmosphere to change the composition enough that it literally is capable of increasing the temperature o the planet

    • philip64 Says:

      I do not agree that “the consensus among scientists was that the world was cooling”. And what is so significant about the period 1972-75 anyway?
      The best measure of the balance of scientific knowledge is surely not what was printed in news magazines, but what scientists of the time actually published. This has been counted across a wider period (1965-79) and the ‘warming’ papers outnumbered ‘cooling’ papers on climate by 6 to 1 (Peterson, Connelly, Fleck 2008). A cooling consensus 1972-75? I don’t think so.

      As for the 97% today, the number is based on a survey the methodology of which has been published alongside the findings. It is consistent with others done previously. It is, I suppose, definitive proof of a consensus, but it certainly is evidence of one; so why on Earth should it not be mentioned?

      • omnologos Says:

        1. The global cooling consensus I detailed above for 1972-1975 is a historical fact and the source of all scare climate stories of the 1970s

        2. 97% is supposed to carry some information. It doesn’t. It’s just as meaningless now as in the past, cooked up from faulty data. Besides if the science is solid I don’t care if it’s supported by 97% or 47%.

      • andrewfez Says:

        I think you’re onto something Phillip:

        Cooling papers in the sci-lit. from 1972 to 1975:

        Hamilton and Seliga (1972), Chýlek and Coakley (1974)


        Neutral papers from 1972 to 1975:

        Charlson et al. (1972), Lowry (1972), National Science Board (1972), Rasool and Schneider (1972), Sellers (1973), Bryson (1974), Hobbs et al.
        (1974), Weare et al. (1974), Willett (1974), National Academy of Sciences


        Warming papers from 1972 to 1975:

        Budyko (1972), Machta (1972), Mitchell (1972), Sawyer (1972), Federal Council for Science and Technology Interdepartmental Committee for Atmospheric Sciences (1974), Kellogg and Schneider (1974), Sellers (1974), Broecker (1975), Manabe and Wetherald (1975), Ramanathan (1975), Reck (1975), Schneider and Mass (1975), Schneider (1975), Thompson (1975)


        Ok, my carpel tunnel be act’n up so that’ll be my final answer for the present. Y’all be safe out there…

      • Not dissimilar to the SkS data – warming papers outnumbered cooling papers, As somone once wrote, “It’s all written in the scientific literature, and disagreeing with that is actual denial of history.”

  2. omnologos Says:

    jhs – you have no idea about anything you write. it’s an achievement of sorts.

  3. quriosity Says:

    Reblogged this on A Thinking Person, a.k.a. Cogit8R and commented:
    Here’s a good response to the claim that ‘the scientific consensus in the 1970s was that we were entering an ice age.’ Also points out that a Time magazine cover often used by climate critics is actually faked.

  4. Nick Carter Says:

    Holy Cripes, Greenman. A flame war! Love it. Hey, I haven’t researched it myself, but I believe Naome Oreskes, in her YouTube video presentation, The American Denial of Global Warming, actually showed a cover of either Life or Time dating back to ca. 1958 titled, One Big Greenhouse?. It was a feature article on the works of Seuss and Ravelle and IGY and the growing concern of how increased CO2 was affecting oceans. Dave Keeling’s research followed shortly thereafter, and that took us to Johnsons advisory comittee. I also have to add just for fun, I looked at an old air pollution textbook from 1972. Basically the gist of the literature was just what we all remember: One one hand, particulate matter is retarding the rate of warming, but on the other, the warming effects of CO2 will eventually win out. What I found particularly interesting was that the author expressed concern about how the new clean air standards would reduce sulphate aerosols, and how warming would accelerate. It was as if I were reading something that was written within the last few years. Okay, gang….Flame away!! 🙂

    • greenman3610 Says:

      got a ref for that book?

      • omnologos Says:

        a 1961 conference by the AMS and the NY Academy of Sciences. reached the “consensus” that the world was cooling despite the CO2 emissions, although the luminaries couldn’t agree on the reasons

        • jpcowdrey Says:


          You are conflating consensus of empirical evidence and consensus of theoretical understanding. ‘omnologos’ has meaning as a moniker in only its ironic sense.

          The form of denial that is practiced by yourself and your fellow ‘lukewarmers’ is that of minimization. The absolutely certain belief that equilibrium climate sensitivity is necessarily smaller than the consensus range, and therefore of piddling consequence. This is like betting the farm on a long shot. Not prudent.

          • omnologos Says:

            jpcowdrey -your remote psychology is a total failure. I have already gone into great detail to explain the difference you are accusing me to deny.

            Go get yourself cured from your unshakable beliefs first.

        • skeptictmac57 Says:


          • omnologos Says:


            SCIENTISTS AGREE WORLD IS COLDER; But Climate Experts Meeting Here Fail to Agree on Reasons for Change
            By WALTER SULLIVAN ();
            January 30, 1961,
            , Section BUSINESS FINANCIAL, Page 46, Column , words

            After a week of discussions on the causes of climate change, an assembly of specialists from several continents seems to have reached unanimous agreement on only one point: it is getting colder.

            it was co-chaired by Rhodes W. Fairbridge, not a minor figure in the last 40/50 years of climatology. Furthermore, it was followed by another meeting in Rome, organized by UNESCO and again with major climatologists in attendance (J. Murray Mitchell, Jr. C. C. Wallén , E. Kraus).

            Link to the UNESCO meeting: (broken to avoid the spam filter)

            Proceedings are available, and they will make for interesting reading. Alas, I do not expect Kirtley or anybody else to do much with them. Nigel Calder says:

            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.[…]

            Once again it looks like as long as we remove references to “ice ages”, the “myth about a global cooling consensus” was no myth at all.

        • omnologos Says:

          Funny how three absolute cretins put a negative vote on a comment of mine where all I did was to report an easy-to-verify fact of History. So deniers do exist, indeed. Am just glad we’re not talking Zyklon B.

  5. thomcan Says:

    I’m very confused as to who is swarming against capitalism. We’d all agree that the free market and capitalism have led to our economic gains and well-being.

    But we tweak the free market and capitalism for the benefit of society. We provide economic (tax) benefits to those things that we want to encourage and think are good for society. The mortgage interest deduction promotes home ownership and the benefits of a more stable society.

    We recognize that not all products or services are fairly priced to reflect their true economic cost to society. Economists would say that the price of certain products don’t reflect their “external costs.” We tax tobacco use in part because of the cost to society from its health effects.

    Similarly, we’ve had regulations, such as tighter restrictions on air and water pollutants because of the adverse health and long term effects to society that accrue if we do not act. We all pay a bit more than we would otherwise for electricity, drinking water, and sewage treatment. These regulations and their costs are a tweak and not a fundamental challenge to capitalism.

    Most all believe that man’s actions are increasing CO2 which will lead to changes that are harmful to health and well-being. Many believe these costs will be disturbingly large, but the costs will most obviously be felt on the next generation and then in all subsequent generations — not us.

    Suggestions to properly reflect the “external costs” of carbon emissions that are revenue neutral (effectively rebating the tax on a per capita basis) can be effective and in my mind are no way against capitalism. These proposals simply rely on the free market (properly reflecting external costs) to work.

    • omnologos Says:

      thomcan – the swarming by some to get climate change as topical in order to bring down capitalism, doesn’t mean everybody concerned about climate change is against capitalism.

      It’s just that among all contemporary topical questions, including population, human rights, poverty/development and abating deathly diseases, climate change has emerged as THE bandwagon everybody tries to swarm on.

      I would welcome suggestions on how to make international/UN-based concerns less prone to the bandwagon effect. And how to defend climate change from the desire by hundreds of NGOs to make it work for them.

      I would also welcome suggestions on how to actually compute the “externalities” in a way that doesn’t end up enriching the rich, as all current half-cooked schemes appear to be doing.

      • jpcowdrey Says:


        I would suggest that climate change represents a serious enough threat to human well being on a global scale that it is important to get as many people and institutions on the bandwagon as possible. I would suggest it is important for people to understand how all those problems you list and others you don’t are exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change.

        That is, unless one has some unshakable and irrational faith that it is impossible for acc to present any threat whatsoever. Only someone in denial would think that, wouldn’t you agree?.

        It is likewise important for NGOs to develop insight as to how climate change will present obstacles and opportunities for their programs, i.e, ‘make it work for them’.

        You seem to be confusing computing externalities with proposals to pay for them. I would suggest a nearly revenue neutral carbon tax rebated with a fixed universal income tax credit should be progressive enough to allay your concerns about the rich.

        • omnologos Says:

          It’d be one thing if many goals were recruited to solve climate change. It’s a completely different thing to see that in reality, climate change is getting recruited to solve many goals. Thereby solving none of them, including climate change.

      • thomcan Says:

        Hello, again. I really don’t want to belabor this, but I am not following the “some” who are using climate change “to bring down capitalism.” Who and what are you really talking about here?

        This is obviously a climate change site, so readers here are going to have more interest on this issue. But I think the concern for many is that climate change will have a big effect on poverty/development, population, human rights, and so forth.

        You’ve lost me on the “And how to defend … from NGOs … to make it work for them.” You may have just written that sentence too quickly. What is the “desire” being defended, and what is the “it” you refer to?

        I don’t think any suggested way to lower CO2 has raised my hackles with thoughts of “that’s just going to further enrich the rich.”

        • omnologos Says:

          thom – both the ETS Europe-wide and wind farming in UK have enriched the rich at the expense of the non-rich. In the first case free permits have been given to energy companies, who proceeded to make the public pay for them.

          Wind farming in the UK is mostly about large estates getting subsidies extracted from the general population.

          The troubles continue with biofuels in the Third World getting money into the coffer of large corporations as locals lose access to their land (and sometimes, see forests disappear).

          The situation may sound better in the USA (see post about “Renewable Energy rolls on”) but I have a deja vu feeling about it, with local farmers getting so much incentives from joining the various schemes, their whole business will be transformed into getting even more incentives from the same schemes. That’s what happened with the ethanol efforts in the 1970s ending up with the recent corn crisis. In that case once again things evolved so that the general public was paying large (and small, but still!) agricultural companies.

          This is not too dissimilar to the NGO issue. It has been long known that the UN funding system distorts the work of NGOs and is distorted by them. Say if the UN plans a conference about X (eg women’s rights) in 2015: if you are an NGO about Y (eg poverty) looking for funds it is perfectly natural and a common occurrence to put your best effort into making sure your goals Y are compatible with X. There is actually a premium for those able to argue that X depends on Y, so their NGO should get more funding. Influential NGOs have therefore a hand in making sure X is drafted in a way that is better for their Y’s.

          For a series of reasons on matters of climate change this unfortunate situation has exploded, with the topic X being pulled in all directions also by the NGOs.

    • andrewfez Says:

      Less a swarm against capitalism and more a recognition that free market ideas are propaganda directed toward the educated middle class.

      * I’d submit that the thing that put economic growth on steroids the last 100+ years is the exploitation of cheap, abundant energy (oil/coal). Here’s a venture capitalist group’s historical recollection of the wealth of government subsidies that got the fossil energy groups up and running:

      Click to access What-Would-Jefferson-Do-Final-Version.pdf

      * Heck even a more recent driver of the economy, the internet, got its start with taxpayer money, where after the tech was developed so far by the government, they then turned it loose for businesses (dot coms) to exploit. Imagine if the government, because they did lots of heavy lifting in the development of the internet, demanded a royalty that goes beyond corporate tax, for every transaction on the internet that involves money, similar to how Apple Computers demands royalties for exploitation of tech/patents it developed.

      * From Noam Chomsky: ‘In fact of the leading — top — hundred leading transnationals in the Fortune list of transnationals — there was a recent study of how they — how they related to the States in which they- they’re all somewhere, you know, so they’re all mostly here — in some National State, it turns out that all hundred of them had benefited from industrial policies, meaning, State intervention in their behalf. All hundred had benefited from the State in which they’re based. And twenty of the hundred had been saved from total disaster, that is, collapse, by just State bail-out. When people talk about globalization of the economy, remember that the nanny State has to be very powerful in order to bail out the rich. And nothing is changing in that regard. Twenty out of a hundred, again, were saved from collapse by this, including a number here.’

      Sometimes the bailouts are obvious (like recently, GM) and the obvious ones get criticized by conservatives (in an effort to continue the free-market propaganda). Sometimes they are less obvious, such as when big-gov Reagan put up huge protectionist policies, such as the large import penalties Japanese automakers were slapped with so that the Japanese autos, superior in quality compared to the American autos at the time secondary to the use of statistical quality control, would not destroy the American manufactures via the free market.

      * When you pay for tap water coming out of your faucet, you are actually paying less than what the free market would demand of you. In general, the price of water in the United States has little to do with supply and demand. Municipalities and regulators typically set rates as low as possible, so much so that 30 percent of all water utilities operate at a loss or a deficit. Lot of places out there in America where if the price really were based on supply they’d be feeling a lot of pain.

      * When the USSR’s defense spending flattened in the 1970’s, America continued to ramp up its spending, with folks in charge yelling, “Gotta close the window of vulnerability!”. This had more to do with using tax dollars to keep large corps like IBM, LMT, GE, etc. from having to face market risk, than real security. I’m a shareholder in IBM and GE, and on the next pullback i will open a position in LMT, because I know these guys are propped up by tax dollars – it’s guaranteed money in the long term, and the only way I know how to get back some of my tax dollars. Stealth bombers certainly are not the product of a free market. Neither is fiber optics (I own T also). Heck neither is gas turbine generated electricity – another taxpayer development.

      I own shares in KO also. There are government mandates that make it virtually illegal for just anyone to build and operate soda bottling plants, making KO and Pepsi big winners in the non-free market. KO keeps its lobby-hand strong. Warren Buffet realized this in the 1980’s and part of his wealth is directly attributed to this direct contradiction of the free market.

      * Our current real estate market (the biggest contributor to GDP) is a 90% government controlled market, Soviet style. Banks are just fronts to collect mortgage money to pass onto Freddie and Fanny, the owners of those mortgages. FHA has taken over a large portion of mortgage originations, and in some places like CA, this program (originally designed to help poor people) will allow rich people to take out $700,000 mortgage loans. FHA is on track for needing a bailout too, FYI.

      * In the financial industry we have terribly complex derivatives authored by folks with PhD’s in math and physics (who were hired by the industry for this purpose), that it is possible for all the players in the market to play the game to their advantage for short term gain, but still such creates systemic risk. That is to say JPM or Countrywide Bank, like most large corps focused on short term gains (EPS, next several quarters), can make decisions that are advantageous to them grabbing huge gains next quarter, but at the same time put the entire system (the American economy and by extension, the world economy) at risk for collapse (such as in 2008).

      After realizing there is no such thing as a free market, I put some money into Bank of America stock about the same time Warren Buffet did. I’ve doubled my money so far, in just a few years. I’ve had a 60% gain in JPM stock. Gov’mnt ain’t gonna let those banks see true free market risk, and drag down hedge funds, mutual funds, pensions and retirements from CA to Maine.

      OK, now my carpel tunnel is really killing me – ha, ha!

  6. guylacrosse Says:

    People who haven’t seen “Soylent Green” should borrow or rent it sometime. It’s old, but still has some good story elements and is relevant to the climate change problem since that is what is the underlying cause of the problem in the movie.

  7. thomcan Says:

    Hello, o, once more.

    So after all this, I think we are in agreement on most of this here.

    1. Climate change is real. It’s manmade. All the physics tell us it will get worse, not better. The consequences might be catastrophic in terms of habitat, food security, poverty, and disease — concerns you express. The effects will be slow moving (we’re sitting in a pot with slowly increasing temperature), and we won’t see the worst effects in our lifetime, but clearly without action now the next generation or the one after that will be dealing with an earth climate and ecosystem that is VERY different from the last 10,000 years.

    2. Organizations (NGOs) that directly deal with poverty, women’s rights, and other issues that require private donations or government funds are competitive in that they always have to focus their efforts and explain their effectiveness to solve problems. Those organizations focusing directly on climate change are, in essence, new competitors for support. Similarly, in the last 20 years or so, new efforts and funds have flowed to address the problem of AIDS. Competition focuses organizations to do better to win their “share of the market.” It’s the way of capitalism.

    3. Efforts to provide incentives for energy independence (e.g., ethanol) or non-fossil fuel energy (wind farms) have been successful in attracting private sector investment. But some incentives may be poorly designed. (I’m not a supporter of ethanol from corn.) I don’t think your UK example makes sense on the face of it: we sell or award “permits” to many industries (think FCC spectrum). Owners get the incentive invest to build capacity (from the barrier to competitors that the permit allows) and then are free to charge market prices. Successful permit-holders prosper. Unsuccessful ones don’t. That’s capitalism.

    5. We’re big-brained. And as a society we can get our brains working on solutions now that have meaningful impact on a potentially very serious problem, and these solutions implemented now can have relatively minor, not-disturbing impacts on our lifestyle. The thoughts that those who work to solve a problem (climate change, AIDS, diseases we can wipe off the face of the earth forever, women’s rights) are out to “bring down capitalism” or that that solutions now mean we must “go back to living in a cave” seem disconnected to the capacity of our brains to solve problems. I’m going to assume you wrote those statements just for an effect to agitate ;-), and that is not at all what you really think.

    • omnologos Says:

      thomcan…almost there…

      1. Climate change is real. Manmade or otherwise, we need to be ready for it. Physics suggest it will get worse in places, better in others. There is a risk of catastrophic consequences in terms of habitat, and for the people most vulnerable, be it because food security, poverty, and.or disease. Some effects will be slow moving, some will be not. We’re not necessarily going to see the worst effects in our lifetime, but clearly without adaptive action now we’re binding ourselves and future generations to un-necessary losses of lives, property and ecosystems.

      I think this makes much more sense exactly because it is NOT overcharged.

      If we follow your text then any positive effect will automatically prevent action, and a lot of time will be wasted (as it is being wasted right now) in figuring out if the climate will really change to something not seen in the past 10,000 years (an interesting scientific question of zero relevance for the future – we will get the climate we will get). It’s like saying we should investigate if quakes are any different now than during the Holocene…who cares (in practice), just build quake-safe buildings!!

      As for point 2: NGOs aren’t competing, because they have a hand on both sides, and huge influence in the UN. That’s why the field attracts so many freeriders. As far as I am concerned, the field is completely polluted by freeriders/bandwagoners (see below).

      Point 3: in the UK large estates where wind farms are viable are invariably owned by a few select rich people. It can’t be right to reward them with money taken from poor and quasi-poor.

      Point 4 (5 in the text): I don’t think the freeriders want to solve any problem. They are parasites that should be isolated, and instead are being rewarded themselves as they can get resources just by shouting “climate change!”. Call them “watermelons” if you like: once again they do not represent the whole AGW movement but as the war is being (mistakenly) fought against the “deniers”, they’re given free hand for zero (or negative) return.

      As I have been pushed “out” by AGWers for several years now I can clearly see the differences, eg between this site and SkS, or between Mann and Tol, or Supermandia and Pielke Jr. But I understand things aren’t that clear when one feels like one’s in the trenches.

  8. Hey Greenman, thanks for picking up my little essay. I certainly don’t mind at all.

    At the end of my piece I listed a few resources. I wanted to keep it short so I had to leave some stuff out. Had it been longer I definitely would have included links to your great Youtube videos on the subject. (And potholer’s, too.)

  9. thomcan Says:

    Hello, o. Hope you don’t mind going back on this again.

    A. You state: “Climate change is real. Manmade or otherwise …” I am not following the “or otherwise.” There are Soooo many sources that point out that the increase in CO2, retained heat, and global temperatures (air and water) are not “natural,” and manmade sources (carbon) swamp the effect of natural sources that I do not follow the “otherwise.” What is your source of “otherwise?” Wouldn’t you agree that the operable word should be “and” not “or” in your phrase “manmade or otherwise;” it should be “manmade and otherwise.”

    B. You state “physics suggest it [climate] will get worse in places and better in others.” I’ve not seen much about “better.” I think the physics say we are headed to at least +2 degrees C globally, and that the consequences are NOT GOOD. When you say “better,” what places on the globe do you think the physics say, “it will be better?” (I think you have to be talking about continents or large swaths of continents.)

    The rest of your paragraph #1 is very similar to mine, and I think paints the correct picture.

    But I don’t think the start of my paragraph (the part you want to change) is “overcharged.”

    • omnologos Says:


      Ok for replacing “or” with “and”.

      As for where things will be better, unless there is some devilish character about climate change of course it will be “better” in some place and “worse” in others. The point of mentioning the possibility is to defuse a debating point that is absolutely useless, namely if climate change is really as devilish as portrayed by some.

      This is what I mean by “overcharged”…I’d rather remove the un-needed. Even if climate change meant it’d only got worse in 1% of the planet, still we should be bettering our chances, given that we are often absolutely unprepared to the climate as it is.

      For example, just like it’s absurd for a school to crash on children because of a quake, it should be considered absurd for a school to crash on children because of a tornado. This should be independent from the size of the quake, and from the size of the tornado.

      ps Now let’s savor this rare occasion of agreement. Unless, of course, you will find yourself classified as “denier” for entertaining this very exchange 😉

      • andrewfez Says:

        I inquired with the boys over at SkS as to where a good place to live would be, if we saw a 2, 3, 4+ degree C increase over the century. I’m still kinda young.

        One person told me that the little peninsula/island around Torch Lake, Michigan that sticks into Lake Superior had good farmland that should improve as the surface temps get hotter (the growing season would get longer), and such had a credible source of freshwater that should remain stable (I’m assuming they meant either the Lake or an aquafier supported by the Lake).

        I don’t have a source but I remember watching a ‘post carbon’ video reporting a psychological study which concluded that personal happiness was independent of resource/energy consumption. That is to say, the folks over in some poorer country, as long as they had food in their belly, friends and romantic companions, were just as happy as the energy intensive Americans. The message of the video was, ‘First world people: We don’t need to be huge consumers and energy users to be happy’.

        But there is a secondary message, not reported in the video. That what present Americans view as ‘catastrophic’ regarding having less access to resources – less water, less food, less energy, less medication, shorter lifespans, etc., secondary to climate change and peak resources – can be attenuated by psychological adaptation (at least in those folks that don’t kill each other over who should have access to a local wheat field, or a local aquafier; such having a higher probability of being third world problems than American/European problems, though nothing can be rigidly discounted).

        So, for example, the price of coastal property is sky high because there is a large demand for it; people want to live at the beach, eat fresh fish, and breath in the clean air wafting on shore. So a house that costs 100K to build at no profit to the builder is worth 500K on the coastline because of this market demand (and builder profit). A coastal neighborhood that, say, costs $100M (one hundred million dollars) to build using a theoretical non-profit building and architectural firm, is then worth $500M. $400M (500-100) is an ’emotional tax’. People ‘want’ to live there, so they drive the price up via competition.

        So when Hurricane Sandy II, comes through and destroys the neighborhood, it is reported that $500M worth of damage has occurred. $400M of what was destroyed is the emotional tax. $100M is the true cost of the material destruction. A lot of those home owners (that didn’t die or weren’t physically harmed) are in a world of hurt, seemingly. They have lost between 0 and $500K a piece, depending on where they were with their mortgage schedules. (Their banks too have ‘lost’, but banks leverage up to create debt out of thin air, so most of their loss is just a paper loss (not to discount systemic risk attached to such)).

        Many now can’t afford a $500K house, because a lot of their wealth was tied up in home equity – now that’s gone. So they buy $100K homes 20 or 30 miles inland. The homes are about the same size – same # of beds, baths, square feet, etc. They psychologically adapt to not being at the beach, having lower air quality (possibly; possibly just the perception of less quality), etc. They still eat, make love, hang out with friends, go to high school graduations, laugh, cry, etc. They no longer have the prestige of being wealthy, and this hurts their pride, but they adapt to that too.

        So when someone reports that next time Sandy II shows up we’ll have $500M in damage to deal with for a given neighborhood, this could actually be mildly catastrophic, as opposed to severely catastrophic, secondary to psychological adaptation.

        Of course, secondary to complex relationships in the economy/society, collateral damage occurs – tax payers get sacked, so rich coastal owners don’t have to psychologically adapt. Insurance companies get sacked and trickle down higher premiums for everyone and everything, so some folks are forced to buy a Prius instead of a Mercedes. Some may have to buy a 1200 sq ft house instead of a 1700 sq ft house. Maybe that’s a bit more tragic?

        Then there are the deaths secondary to hurricanes. But anyone living near the coast should realize that there is a possibility that they can die from weather related causes. Other than children that are forced to live where their parents want to live, they’ve all made a value call that goes something like, ‘The benefit of living here outweighs the risk of hurricane related death. Global warming may very well increase that risk, but not enough for me to leave the area’.

        It’s like S Schneider said – these are value calls.

        Me, I don’t consider the destruction of New York City or the Jersey Shore catastrophic, aside from the part where my tax dollars go to idiotically rebuilding property that’s just going to get knocked down again on the next time ’round. I say anything that gets knocked down on the coast should be rebuilt on the other side of town, inland, therefore creating adaptation at marginal cost (and that nth row property back from the shore which is still standing, that was worth 300k/home, now becomes the 1st row property and is now worth 1M/home, thus average wealth destruction is minimized on a collective level.)

        What I consider catastrophic is loss of species and loss of biodiversity secondary to a sudden jolt in the system, whether that happens at 0.5C or 1.5C or 2C+. Again it’s a value call. What one holds subjectively valuable.

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