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The great global cooling myth

global_cooling.JPG “In the 1970s, all the scientists were saying an ice age was coming.” This seems to be a popular sentiment echoed in blogs and novels aimed at challenging the consensus views regarding future climate change. It was even a key theme in Michael Crichton’s State of Fear , when a character suggests that scientists only jumped on the global warming bandwagon in a bid to secure funding.

But a new article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society challenges the idea of a ‘global cooling ’ consensus. Thomas Peterson of NOAA teamed with William Connolley of the British Antarctic survey and science reporter John Fleck to create a survey of peer-reviewed climate literature from the 1970s. Looking at every paper that dealt with climate change projections or an aspect of climate forcing from 1965 to 1979, they were able to assess the ‘trends’ in the literature. They found that only 7 of the 71 total papers surveyed predicted global cooling. The vast majority (44) actually predicted that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide could lead to global warming.

The group went even farther, and pulled up some of the most referenced news articles on climate. What they found may be the earliest example of climate whiplash journalism . In 1975, the New York Times published two articles by W Sullivan with the contradictory (partial) titles “major cooling may be ahead” and “warming trend seen in climate.”

Of course, there was a small group of scientists in a new field pointing to the inevitability of the coming ice age – the newly minted palaeoclimatologists. However, as Peterson and colleagues point out, they were speaking on timescales of tens of thousands of years, rather than anything that could occur in a child or grandchild’s lifetime. And in their seminal 1976 paper on the pacemaker of the ice ages, James Hays and colleagues warned that anthropogenic emissions may affect these long term future climate trends more strongly that solar forcing.

Overall, Peterson, Connolley and Fleck have shown that the scientific consensus has actually changed very little since the 1970s. More surprisingly (at least to the sceptics) they show that global warming caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions has always been a concern, even during the infancy of modern climate science. Anyone care to pass the final nail for the coffin of ‘global cooling’?

Alicia Newton

Image credit: IStockphotos/Trevor Hunt


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    David L. Hagen said:

    Their excuse for excluding the global cooling conference:

    “The gray literature of conference proceedings were not authoritative enough to be included in the literature search.”

    Another 1974 “science” perspective:

    Another Ice Age? Time Magazine, Science section, Monday, Jun. 24, 1974

    “Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had

    suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.. . .University of Toronto Climatologist Kenneth Hare, a former president of the Royal Meteorological Society, believes that the continuing drought and the recent failure of the Russian harvest gave the world a grim premonition of what might happen. Warns Hare: “I don’t believe that the world’s present population is sustainable if there are more than three years like 1972 in a row.”

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    John M said:

    By now, I’m sure everyone is aware of the famous Newsweek and Time articles from the 70s, and they are mentioned in the linked article, but since you didn’t mention them, it might be worth reviewing:

    Newsweek, “The Cooling World”, April 28, 1975.

    “The evidence in support of these [cooling] predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meterologists are hardpressed to keep up with it.”

    “But they [meterologists] are almost unamious in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century”.

    “The stagnant air produced in this way [slight drop in over-all temperature] causes an increase in extremes of local weather such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases-all of which have direct impact on food supplies.” [Sound familar?]

    “Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climate change, or even to allay its effects”. [Note: these “climate changes” are COOLING.]

    Time, “Another Ice Age”, June 24, 1974

    “However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, 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 aberattions they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.”

    “Telltale signs are everwhere…”

    “…it is supported by convincing evidence.”

    “Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of snow in summer, now they are covered year round.”

    Other things ascribed by Time to this cooling? “Indeed, it is the widening of this cap of cold air that is the immediate cause of Africa’s drought.” “…the Midwest’s recent rash of disastrous tornadoes, for example.”

    OK, so at an attempt at balance, Time did say “Some scientists like Donald Oilman (!), chief of the National Weather Services’s long-range-prediction group, think that the cooling trend may be only temporary”.

    Alas, this type “balance” is no longer allowed in todays newsrooms. But clearly, even with this attempt at balance, Newsweek and Time were painting a quite confident picture of a global cooling consensus.

    If that consensus didn’t exist, were Time and Newsweek journalists simply pushing an “angle” based on sensational…

    Hmmm, you know, maybe you’ve got something after all.

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    Kooiti Masuda said:

    I wonder if the above comment by Maurizio Morabito is a joke or a serious objection to the message of Peterson et al.

    Peteson et al. discussed the situation in the 1970s. So the situation in 1961 is out of scope. Logically the statement of Morabito does not contradict that of Peterson et al.

    Actually, though I have not researched myself, I guess that the situation in 1961 was not much different from the situation in the 1970s as discussed by Peterson et al.

    I have no access yet to the vintage 1961 article in the archive of New York Times. I hope someone who have access will correct my possible misunderstanding.

    It is remarkable that the NYT article was written by Walter Sullivan, who, according to Peteson et al. reported both “cooling” and “warming” even in the same year.

    I think that the phrase “it is getting colder” might not mean any kind of prediction of the future (then), but just analysis of the recent past (then).

    According to Spencer Weart at (around the note “(14*)”), J. Murray Mitchell Jr. reported (at a certain meeting of meteorologists) that the global average surface air temperature declined from around 1940 to the recent time then. It is likely that that fact was accepted unanimously. And, in view of the present knowledge, the decline of the Northern Hemisphere average temperature from around 1940 to around 1960 is very likely true, though it is less certain for the global temperature.

    By the way, was it really a meeting of “American Meteorological Association”? It is more likely that it was a meeting of the American Meteorogical Society which used that name in 1961 as well as now.

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    Dr. Gerhard Loebert said:

    After three decades of continual increase, the mean Earth temperature has been decreasing steadily since 2002, as precise satellite measurements show. World climate is a regular quasi-periodic phenomenon [driven by solar activity with a period of 70 – 80 years (Gleissberg cycle)] that lags the mean Earth rotational velocity by 6 years. Because of this regularity, it can be stated with absolute certainty that the mean Earth temperature will continue to decrease until 2040.

    The following description of a new, super-Einsteinian theory of gravitation explains why this is so [see Section e)].

    Extending Physics to the Sub-Fermionic/Bosonic Particle Level Yields a New and Powerful Theory of Gravitation.

    Dr. Gerhard Löbert, Otterweg 48, 85598 Baldham, Germany

    Physicist. Recipient of The Needle of Honor of German Aeronautics.

    Program Manager “CCV, F 104G” (see Internet).

    Program Manager “Lampyridae, MRMF” (see Internet)

    Abstract: Extending physics to the subphotonic particle level yields a new theory of gravitation that not only covers the well-known Einstein effects but also points out a number of post-Einstein-effects that show up in recent geo- and astrophysical observations. The new theory is based on quantum mechanics and is free of the problem of the intolerably high vacuum energy density that plagues General Relativity.

    The currently favoured gravitational theory, the General Theory of Relativity (GR) of Einstein, is pre-quantum-mechanics, purely geometric, and deviates from reality by at least 41 orders of magnitude (see Weinberg, S.: Rev. Mod. Phys. Vol. 61, 1989, p. 1). Definite proof of the fallacy of GR is provided by the Casimir experiment in which a vacuum energy density of 0.03 J/m³ has been measured. With this energy density, which is more than 8 orders of magnitude higher than the mean density of the rest energy of the visible matter content of the universe, GR gives a universe age that is three orders of magnitude smaller than the age of the Earth! The measured vacuum energy density is higher than the maximum value of approx. 4 eV/mm³ allowed by GR (see Overduin and Priester, Naturwissenschaften 2001, p. 229) by a factor of 50 000 000! The PSR 1913+16 binary system is unsuitable for validating Einsteinian gravitational waves since a mere acceleration of this sytem of 0.01 mm/sec² completely contaminates the time sequence of the pulse train received from that system.

    As a logical consequence, GR must be discarded and replaced by a theory of gravitation that is in line with modern particle interaction theory and is in good agreement with experiment. The author has developed such a new theory. This theory, which is based on quantum mechanics and on two plausible post-university-teaching assumptions, not only covers the well-known Einstein effects but also points out a number of post-Einstein-effects that show up in recent geo- and astrophysical observations. The new theory is based on quantum mechanics and is free of the problem of the intolerably high vacuum energy density that plagues General Relativity.

    The first assumption is founded on the fact that in the documented particle accelerator experiments, all particles have displayed a dynamic behaviour identical to that of equal-energy electromagnetic radiation enclosed in a vessel with perfectly reflecting walls. Hence, not only photons but all elementary particles must – with high probability – be of an electromagnetic nature. They can be represented by non-radiating oscillating multipole fields carrying energy and angular momentum suitably combined with electrostatic fields. This paradigm reduces Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity to an afternoon exercise for any physics student, and makes that exotic theory understandable for everybody.

    Every force field requires a carrier, either in the form of a substrate or a mediating particle. Generations of electrodynamicists have disregarded this simple wisdom. It is here assumed (second assumption) that electromagnetic fields are carried by a dense sea of polarisable and magnetisable subphotonic particles of extremely low mass called “seaons”. (Because of Einstein’s abstract way of deriving Special Relativity, many physicists think that physical theory does not allow the existence of a carrier medium and a preferred frame of reference. This is, of course, not true. The microwave background radiation shows that a preferred reference frame does exist, and, as every electrodynamicist knows, in an electromagnetic world there is no fundamental difference between an ideal dielectric medium with its distinct frame of reference and the vacuum.) This seaon sea fills the complete universe and is presently expanding from its initial state of infinite particle density at the time of the big bang. The gaskinetic particle motion within the Sun on the one hand, and the dynamics of galaxy clusters and superclusters on the other, yield a seaon mass of some 10**(-33) neutron masses.

    The quantum-mechanical interaction of the seaons with the electromagnetic field of a material particle of mass m1 results in a spherically symmetric increase of the local seaon particle number density and, as a consequence, in a spherically symmetric reduction of the local speed of light of the form c® / cinfinity = 1 – G m1 / (c²r). (Here c is the distance travelled by light in one unit of local time). Because of the gradient in c, a second material particle of mass m2 and electromagnetic energy m2c² placed in the c-field of the first particle experiences the well-known electromagnetic gradient force F = (m2c²) grad c / c = G m1 m2 / r².

    The new gravitational theory is called Seaon Theory (ST). Because it is based on quantum mechanics and not on geometry, ST displays a number of post-Einstein-effects that are not covered by GR. These post-Einstein-effects are:

    a) The slow secular changes of almost all physical quantities

    As a result of the steady decrease of the particle number density in the expanding seaon sea, the vacuum electromagnetic properties, the speed of light, the gravitational “constant” and other physical quantities change slowly with time. This post-Einstein-effect explains the slow (secular) increase of the orbital radii of all planets, the warm paleo-climates of Earth and Mars, the slow decrease of the pressure within the celestial bodies, the slow increase of the radius of the Earth, the slow decrease of the rotational velocity of the Earth, the slow decrease of the ratio of continental to oceanic crust area and the secular fall of the sea level of the oceans, and also explains why the oldest stars seem to be much older than the universe.

    b) The extremely small but finite dependence of the gravitational force on the relative velocity of two gravitationally interacting bodies. This quantum mechanical post-Einstein-effect explains the large deficit of solar neutrinos, the heating of the coronal and the intergalactic gas to millions and hundreds of millions of degrees, respectively, as well as the heat surplus of Jupiter and Saturn. This interaction energy is extracted from the almost unlimited enrgy reservoir of the seaon sea that constitutes the vacuum.

    c) The transition of the gravitational force from the inverse square law to a 1/r variation at galactic and supergalactic distances. This post-Einstein-effect that results from the quantum mechanical interaction in an expanding substrate with a time-varying source strength, considerably alleviates the dark matter problem.

    d) The gravitational deactivation of matter in superdense, supermassive bodies as a result of the conversion of electromagnetic rest energy into electromagnetic kinetic energy during the free fall of a particle.

    According to the new theory, a particle in free fall towards a body gains kinetic energy at the expense of its rest energy mc². (In a purely electromagnetic world, the energy form “gravitational energy” has no real existence.) As the particle falls, its rest mass and, as a consequence, its gravitational source strength are decreasing steadily. When a supermassive gas cloud of mass M collapses to a spinning superdense body of radius R most of its original gravitational source strength is lost. (The relative gravitational deactivation is given by GM/c²R, approximately.) Hence, the supermassive bodies located at the center of every galaxy contain several orders of magnitude more matter than is indicated by their gravitational field. Because of their high degree of gravitational deactivation, their remaining gravitational source strength is particularly sensitive to velocity changes.

    e) The gravitational reactivation of matter and the generation of quantum mechanical, longitudinal gravitational waves (quantum mechanical wave function waves) during the expansion or explosion of a superdense, supermassive body; the propagation of this new form of gravitational waves and the action of these waves on the celestial bodies through which they pass.

    As the supermassive bodies located at the center of a galaxy move about each other in a quasi regular manner, their velocities and, consequently, their gravitational source strengths are constantly changing in a quasi periodic and aperiodic manner. When such a body changes its gravitational source strength, it emits a quantum mechanical wave function wave that spreads out radially in all directions and carries with it small changes (in the ppb range at 10 kpc distance) in the local particle density of the seaon sea (the vacuum). Since the local electromagnetic properties of the vacuum and the local speed of light depend directly on the local seaon particle density, these physical quantities also change slightly (in the ppb range) within the wave.

    When such a vacuum density wave generated at the center of the Galaxy reaches the solar system and passes through the Sun and the Earth, it induces a large number of correlated small-amplitude physical changes in these celestial bodies. In particular, when such a wave passes through the Earth, the atomic Bohr radius and the radius, circumference, rotational velocity, rotational axis angles and non-tidal gravitational acceleration of the Earth change in the ppb range. As a result of the circumference changes, earthquakes are triggered at the tectonic plate boundaries. (These gravitational waves also excite the rigid and elastic body modes of the Earth.)

    These vacuum density waves, which carry with them small changes in the electromagnetic properties of the vacuum, occur in an extremely large period range from minutes to millennia.

    On the Sun, these vacuum waves modulate the intensity of the thermonuclear energy conversion process within the core, and this has its effect on all physical quantities of the Sun (this is called solar activity). This in turn has its influences on the Earth and the other planets. In particular, the solar wind and the solar magnetic field strength are modulated which results in large changes in the intensity of the cosmic radiation reaching the Earth. Cosmic rays produce condensation nuclei so that the cloud cover of the atmosphere and the Earth albedo also change as does the world climate which displays a quasi-cyclic behavior with a period of 70 – 80 years.

    On the Earth, the steady stream of vacuum density waves produces parts-per-billion changes in a large number of geophysical quantities. The most important quantities are the radius, circumference, rotational velocity, gravitational acceleration, VLBI baseline lengths, and axis orientation angles of the Earth, as well as the orbital elements of all low-earth-orbit satellites. All of these fluctuations have been measured.

    Irrefutable evidence for the existence of this new, super-Einsteinian wave type is provided by the extremely close correlation between changes of the mean temperature and fluctuations of the mean rotational velocity of the Earth in the past 150 years. (see Fig. 2.2 of Einsteinian theory cannot explain this amazing correlation between two physical quantities that seem to be completely unrelated.

    This post-Einstein effect also explains the formation of the multiple rings in ring galaxies, the sudden transitions between the geological strata, as well as the synchronous fluctuation of the solar neutrino flux and the solar wind.

    f) The gravitational laser GASER (Gravitational Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation) and the supercritical gravitational chain reaction as a result of the nonlinear gravitational interaction of superdense, supermassive bodies. In the case of two closely spaced superdense bodies, this nonlinear interaction can lead to gravitational instability resulting in the explosion of the two strongly interacting bodies. This quantum mechanical post-Einstein-effect could explain the generation of gamma ray bursts.


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    William said:

    Thanks to Nature for a nice write-up of our paper. I think you need to be a bit more agressive on your comment moderation though – Loeberts reply, above, is utterly irrelevant and merely pushing his own per theory.

    KM has correctly answered part of MM’s point: 1961 is before our timeframe. Its also a press article, not a conference proceeding. Assuming that it accurately reports the conference, though, we would have put it into the “no prediction category”, since it says: “SCIENTISTS AGREE WORLD IS COLDER; But Climate Experts Meeting Here Fail to Agree on Reasons for Change”. I have no great problem with the idea that the world was cooling somewhat then – the point is, what were people predicting for the future? If they were failing to agree on the reasons for change, I think we can assume they weren’t making predictions.

    John M quotes from the popular press, and so is irrelevant.

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    John M said:


    I would be happy to agree with you that quoting from the popular press is irrelevant.

    If only you would point that out when they interview you.

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    donald ward said:

    Global warming is the most wide spread scam ever perpetrated on a world wide scale, Millions of dollars are being foolishly spent trying to prevent a naturally occurring phenomenon when it should be spent on projects to protect the public from water shortages, increased flooding, more powerful storm systems, seismic events and fire storms. Pandemic diseases will develop and species disappear.

    I have studied the climate change issue for over 40 years strictly from a civil engineer’s background in seismic and weather events and the experience gained over 60 years as a consulting engineer and surveyor in private practice. I still manage an office in Tehachapi making flood studies for land development projects as well as consulting engineer for the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water Storage District with flood control responsibilities. I helped design a water importation project into the Tehachapi Valley managing its construction that has been in operation for since 1968.

    I have been showing how the Earth is heated by the latent heat exchanges within the liquid core and how the planets have been involved. It is understandable that Earth scientists do not follow this scenario since the dogma of earlier science reports still prevail.

    The Jupiter system of force is the summation of planetary forces acting on Jupiter along the Jupiter-Sun axis. The theory is that the forces acting on Jupiter, and being the closest large planet to the Sun, has the greatest solar influence on the Sun and therefore on Earth. As the Jupiter system of force weakens, as it has for the last 385 years, the latent heat stored in the liquid core is released.

    This force is reflected in the global warming of Earth in the latent heat exchanges in the liquid core as it heats up the Earth from within. It is also reflected in the expansion of the Earth which releases tension in the surface resulting in a greater number of large earthquakes around the world as well as volcanic eruptions and violent weather.

    There is an attendant reflection in human behavior. The 1929 market crash was preceded by a low Jupiter system of force of 189 in 1927 which remained below 200 through 1935. The Jupiter system of force fell below 200 in 1948 and remained below 200 through 1955, then again from 1966 to the middle of 1974, from the end of 1987 to the spring of 1994, returning below 200 in August 2007 and remaining below 200 through August 2014.

    The Earth was under this kind of stress almost 1000 years ago. Just as the earth is feeling the effects of global warming, just so is the human psyche as it governs the total organism and its interaction with the changing environment.

    Any unpredictable incident can be the spark to set off panic, riot or war in the present global warming environment.

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    Maurizio Morabito said:

    First of all 1961 can’t be simply labelled as “before (Connolley’s) timeframe”. It’s just 4 years before 1965…one would have to start asking why the 1970s myth was explored with articles from 1965.

    And according to Connolley’s article, the real mindset change on cooling vs. warming happened in 1975/1976.

    Secondly, it is not just a matter of the popular press. It is relatively easy to find the proceedings of 1961 conference organized by UNESCO, where again all the attendants agreed the world was cooling.

    But most importantly: the fact of a consensus on global cooling in the 1970s is actually described in Connolley’s (and Solomon’s and Fleck’s) own words:

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

    Of course, it looks like what Connolley and the others were looking for were predictions of future cooling.

    But is that the only definition for “global cooling”?

    Also, climate predictions were not really fashionable, in the 1970s. As Connolley, Peterson and Fleck write:

    “While some of these articles make clear predictions of global surface temperature change by the year 2000, most of these articles do not. Many of the articles simply examined some aspect of climate forcing.“

    In my opinion, we cannot say that Connolley et al. have reviewed “the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979”. Simply, they have been looking at 30/40-year-old articles that would ultimately fit today’s patterns: making future climate predictions, and strictly fixated around “forcings”.

    There was no chance for them to find many articles adhering to their own strict definition of “global cooling consensus”. And they didn’t.

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    Maurizio Morabito said:

    Additional details from a 1996 book

    Global Warming and Global Politics” By Matthew Paterson

    Published by Routledge, 1996

    ISBN 041513871X, 9780415138710

    238 pages

    where the following can be found:

    (a) Everybody agreed in the early 1970s that the world had been cooling since the 1940s

    (b) A 1971 MIT conference’s final report stated they did not know about the (effective) role of CO2; the participants discussed about the relative role of aerosols as cooling agents, and CO2 as warming agent, reaching no conclusion (about the future tendency)

    © Following the MIT conference, from 1972-1973 research programmes “expanded into the field of long-term climatic trends and conditions”

    (and that’s why there are not that many papers forecasting global cooling: climate forecasting started alongside the shift towards CO2/warming studies)

    (d) At the GARP 1974 Conference in Stockholm, there were still specialists believing that the cooling trend would continue. Other participants were not sure.

    This means that (i) the world had kept cooling up to 1974 at least and (ii) the consensus at the time was on “cooling” or “don’t know”, definitely not on “warming”

    (e) The 1975 Norwich WMO International Symposium on Long-Term Climate Fluctuations established that aerosols “do not” cool the atmosphere (if that’s still part of the consensus, I am not sure), thereby moving the whole focus towards CO2 and warming

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    J. Keller said:

    Cooling or Warming? The problem today is that politicians are running headlong in making decisions which may be unnecessary or harmful while the “global warming” environmental community has based their alarm on very questionable research and data while absolutely refusing to listen to any scientific evidence which might contradict their preconceived conclusions.

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