Skeptics' Claim of Cooling Climate 'Consensus'? Bull, Says New Research


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I've started losing count of the number of times global warming skeptics have been proven wrong, but I'm sure the official tally must be fast approaching: skeptics 0, scientists 10,000 (give or take a few thousand). The latest talking point debunking comes courtesy of ScienceNews' Sid Perkins, who gently points out that the so-called "climate cooling consensus" of the 1970s, despite what those kooky deniers would have you believe, never was.

Because predictions of a cooling planet made during the 1970s -- a number of researchers then believed that increases in the emission of aerosols, such as dust and smog, could put the planet on a path of sustained cooling -- turned out to be wrong, climate deniers argue that the current projections could prove to be just as fallacious. That would be a powerful argument -- if it was true. Perkins writes:

Not true, climatologist Thomas C. Peterson of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and his colleagues report in the September Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The team's survey of major journal papers published between 1965 and 1979 found that only seven articles predicted that global average temperature would continue to cool. During the same period, 44 journal papers indicated that the average temperature would rise and 20 were neutral or made no climate predictions.

The findings were "a surprise to us," Peterson says. For decades the "skeptics had repeated their argument so often and so strongly that we misremembered the tenor of the times."

Strike one.

When these skeptics mention previous concerns about global cooling, they typically cite media reports from the 1970s rather than journal papers —"a part of their tremendous smoke screen on this issue," says Peterson. Among major magazines, Time and Newsweek ran articles expressing concern about the previous decades' cooling trend, juxtaposing the specter of decreased food production with rising global population.

But even a cursory review of 1970s media accounts shows that there was no consensus about global cooling among journalists, either, Peterson says. In May 1975, the headline of a New York Times article warned that "major cooling may be ahead." Three months later, another headline in the same paper — atop a feature written by the same reporter — stated that two recent journal articles "counter [the] view that [a] cold period is due."

Strike two.

But wait, skeptics will say, what about that Science article that predicted the possibility of a future ice age triggered by a fourfold increase in aerosols? They are referring to a 1971 article written by climatologist Stephen Schneider, in which he did, indeed, make that prediction; however, as he himself now acknowledges, new evidence soon followed its publication that suggested that 1) the cooling impact of aerosols was not nearly as high as originally estimated and 2) there were many other gases in the atmosphere, including methane, CFCs and ozone, that had the same warming effect as carbon dioxide. Perkins, again:

When global warming skeptics draw misleading comparisons between scientists' nascent understanding of climate processes in the 1970s and their level of knowledge today, "it's absolute nonsense," Schneider says. Back then, scientists were just beginning to study climate trends and their causes, and the probability of finding evidence to disprove a particular hypothesis was relatively high. Nowadays, he contends, "the likelihood of new evidence to overthrow the concept of global warming is small. Warming is virtually certain."

Strike three. I'd gloat some more, but then I might actually start feeling bad.

Via : ScienceNews: Cooling climate 'consensus' of 1970s never was
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Tags: Cooling

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