Summary: FM website seeks to explain events, and successful predictions are among the best ways to do so. Last September you read Start of another swing of the media narrative – to global cooling. The current cold winter in most of North America brings a harvest of global cooling stories, yet another illustration of our sad preference for pleasing stories over reality. We can do better.
- Global cooling returns (to the news)
- Scientists reply
- It’s extreme climate!
- Scientific American rewrites the past
- For More Information
(1) Global cooling returns (to the news)
Some things never change. Much like “if it bleeds, it leads”, the news media take current weather extremes and exaggerate them into a trend. Makes good headlines, and there are always climate scientists willing to provide good quotes — and some research providing a foundation (albeit weak) for the story.
Climate change is a partisan food fight, so the exaggerated cooling stories come from the Right:
- Stuart Varley of Fox: “It looks to me like we are looking at global cooling, forget this global warming — that’s just my opinion”, 2 January 2014
- “Global Cooling: Is an Ice Age Coming?“, The Christian Broadcasting Network, 8 January 2014
- “Another year of global cooling“, David Deming (Assoc Prof of Arts & Sciences, U OK – Norman), op-ed in the Washington Times, 16 January 2014 — Deming was in the Geophysics Department, transferred in a clear case of harassment for his views.
- “Do we face a disastrous century due to global cooling?“, Michael Barone (Sr Political Analyst), op-ed in the Washington Examiner, 19 January 2014
(2) Scientists reply
Of course, individual events tell us nothing about the longer-term trend. For analysis of this cold winter in North America see
- “Does the Cold Wave Imply Anything About Global Warming? The Answer is Clearly No.“, Cliff Mass (Professor of Atmospheric Science, U of Washington), 6 January 2014 — Mass is the principle investigator of the UW Mesoscale Analysis and Forecasting Group.
- “Cold, hard facts“, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR, funded by the National Science Foundation), 8 January 2014 — “Six things to know about the Arctic invasion.”
- “Cold but brief“, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR, funded by the National Science Foundation), 15 January 2014 — “Cold as it was, temperatures during last week’s Arctic outbreak moderated far more quickly than was the case during some of the most intense cold waves of the last 40 years. Bob Henson puts the recent chill in perspective …”
(3) It’s extreme weather!
On the other hand, anything but the most typical weather is extreme weather — evidence of climate change — to activists and their followers. Here is a revealing exchange, showing a common reaction of people indoctrinated by activists when presented with words from IPCC or other major climate agencies. Ritholtz is a smart guy, whom I respect — making this even more telling.
No reply. I would thank someone who corrected me with a reference to an NCAR article, but followers of climate activists have other standards. I am certain that, like others to whom I have shown the conclusions of the IPCC and other climate agencies, Ritholz’s belief that current weather is “abnormal” remains unaltered.
Left and Right in America are equally contemptuous of science.
Some of this change in narrative results from boredom with the long narrative of global warming, and journalists looking for fresh stories. Some of this is over-reaction to activists’ predictions of severe warming, now coming due — and proving false. Some of this is the right-wing propaganda machine doing what it does best.
None of that matters. The truth about the current state of climate knowledge is out there, if we want to know it. As it is with so many of the great challenges facing America in this new century. Somehow, I don’t know how, we must become better at distinguishing fact from propaganda.
We were a skeptical people. Our current complaisance of thought and action has shallow roots in our history and character. We can do better.
(5) Sidenote: Scientific American rewrites the past
Scientific American continues to sacrifice its reputation to the cause of global warming alarmism: “How the “Global Cooling” Story Came to Be“, 10 January 2014 — “Nine paragraphs written for Newsweek in 1975 continue to trump 40 years of climate science. It is a record that has its author amazed.”
Concern during the 1970s about global cooling was much more than one Newsweek story (although there was nothing close to a consensus among climate scientists). The record shows articles expressing concern by climate scientists, government agencies, and the general media. NOAA’s official history attributes creation in 1979 of its Climate Analysis Center (CAC) to the concern about global cooling.
There were many news stories like this: “Another Ice Age?“, TIME, 24 June 1974:
Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds — the so-called circumpolar vortex — that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world.
For more about the 1970’s global cooling scare see Articles from the 1970′s about global cooling/warming.
(6) For More Information
Posts about global cooling:
- Articles from the 1970′s about global cooling/warming
- An important letter sent to the President about the danger of climate change, 21 October 2009 — About global cooling
- About the headlines from the 1970s about global cooling, 2 November 2009 — Not what they seem
- A look at global warming written in a cooler and more skeptical time, giving us a better understanding of climate science, 23 November 2009
- The facts about the 1970’s Global Cooling scare, 7 December 2009
- Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses, 17 October 2010
- The slow solar cycle is getting a lot of attention. What are its effect on us?, 11 February 2012
- Start of another swing of the media narrative – to global cooling?, 11 September 2013
An introduction to climate change:
- What we know about our past climate, and its causes
- Good news! Global temperatures have stabilized, at least for now.
- What can climate scientists tell about the drivers of future warming?
- What can climate scientists tell us about the drivers of future warming? – part two of two