Friday, October 17, 2008

Keep a'Coolin', Baby

There's a persistent belief that scientists used to believe that an ice-age was imminent, and now they believe that the Earth is warming. The subtext is that scientists can't make their minds up and clearly can be ignored as hysterical lunatics. I've mentioned before that this is not true; there was no general belief amongst scientists in the seventies that the Earth was cooling. In that piece I mentioned a round up of texts from the time published on the web as "Was an imminent Ice Age predicted in the '70's? No."

There's now a newer review of the literature out. What's their conclusion?

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.”

Their report is published in in the September Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, and there is a write-up of the paper in Science News: Cooling climate ‘consensus’ of 1970s never was.

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