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Periodic claims of ''Global Cooling'' then ''Global Warming'' since 1800's



December 14, 2009 – Comments (6) | RELATED TICKERS: XOM , GE , F

This article first published in May 2006 provides an interesting review of the debate on Climate Change.

You can read the article from the above link which has magazine images available.I am not allowed to copy the images.

It was five years before the turn of the century and major media were warning of disastrous climate change. Page six of The New York Times was headlined with the serious concerns of “geologists.” Only the president at the time wasn’t Bill Clinton; it was Grover Cleveland. And the Times wasn’t warning about global warming – it was telling readers the looming dangers of a new ice age.

The year was 1895, and it was just one of four different time periods in the last 100 years when major print media predicted an impending climate crisis. Each prediction carried its own elements of doom, saying Canada could be “wiped out” or lower crop yields would mean “billions will die.”

Just as the weather has changed over time, so has the reporting – blowing hot or cold with short-term changes in temperature.

Following the ice age threats from the late 1800s, fears of an imminent and icy catastrophe were compounded in the 1920s by Arctic explorer Donald MacMillan and an obsession with the news of his polar expedition. As the Times put it on Feb. 24, 1895, “Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again.”

Those concerns lasted well into the late 1920s. But when the earth’s surface warmed less than half a degree, newspapers and magazines responded with stories about the new threat. Once again the Times was out in front, cautioning “the earth is steadily growing warmer.”

After a while, that second phase of climate cautions began to fade. By 1954, Fortune magazine was warming to another cooling trend and ran an article titled “Climate – the Heat May Be Off.” As the United States and the old Soviet Union faced off, the media joined them with reports of a more dangerous Cold War of Man vs. Nature.

The New York Times ran warming stories into the late 1950s, but it too came around to the new fears. Just three decades ago, in 1975, the paper reported: “A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable.”

That trend, too, cooled off and was replaced by the current era of reporting on the dangers of global warming. Just six years later, on Aug. 22, 1981, the Times quoted seven government atmospheric scientists who predicted global warming of an “almost unprecedented magnitude.”

In all, the print news media have warned of four separate climate changes in slightly more than 100 years – global cooling, warming, cooling again, and, perhaps not so finally, warming. Some current warming stories combine the concepts and claim the next ice age will be triggered by rising temperatures – the theme of the 2004 movie “The Day After Tomorrow.”

Recent global warming reports have continued that trend, morphing into a hybrid of both theories. News media that once touted the threat of “global warming” have moved on to the more flexible term “climate change.” As the Times described it, climate change can mean any major shift, making the earth cooler or warmer. In a March 30, 2006, piece on ExxonMobil’s approach to the environment, a reporter argued the firm’s chairman “has gone out of his way to soften Exxon’s public stance on climate change.”

The effect of the idea of “climate change” means that any major climate event can be blamed on global warming, supposedly driven by mankind.

Spring 2006 has been swamped with climate change hype in every type of media – books, newspapers, magazines, online, TV and even movies.

One-time presidential candidate Al Gore, a patron saint of the environmental movement, is releasing “An Inconvenient Truth” in book and movie form, warning, “Our ability to live is what is at stake.”

Despite all the historical shifting from one position to another, many in the media no longer welcome opposing views on the climate. CBS reporter Scott Pelley went so far as to compare climate change skeptics with Holocaust deniers.

“If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel,” Pelley asked, “am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?” he said in an interview on March 23 with CBS News’s PublicEye blog.

He added that the whole idea of impartial journalism just didn’t work for climate stories. “There becomes a point in journalism where striving for balance becomes irresponsible,” he said.

Pelley’s comments ignored an essential point: that 30 years ago, the media were certain about the prospect of a new ice age. And that is only the most recent example of how much journalists have changed their minds on this essential debate.

Some in the media would probably argue that they merely report what scientists tell them, but that would be only half true.

Journalists decide not only what they cover; they also decide whether to include opposing viewpoints. That’s a balance lacking in the current “debate.”

This isn’t a question of science. It’s a question of whether Americans can trust what the media tell them about science.

Global Cooling: 1954-1976

The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in
Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear era, but I have no fear
’Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river

-- The Clash “London Calling,” released in 1979

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, amidst hysteria about the dangers of a new ice age. The media had been spreading warnings of a cooling period since the 1950s, but those alarms grew louder in the 1970s.

Three months before, on January 11, The Washington Post told readers to “get a good grip on your long johns, cold weather haters – the worst may be yet to come,” in an article titled “Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age.” The article quoted climatologist Reid Bryson, who said “there’s no relief in sight” about the cooling trend.

Journalists took the threat of another ice age seriously. Fortune magazine actually won a “Science Writing Award” from the American Institute of Physics for its own analysis of the danger. “As for the present cooling trend a number of leading climatologists have concluded that it is very bad news indeed,” Fortune announced in February 1974.

“It is the root cause of a lot of that unpleasant weather around the world and they warn that it carries the potential for human disasters of unprecedented magnitude,” the article continued.

That article also emphasized Bryson’s extreme doomsday predictions. “There is very important climatic change going on right now, and it’s not merely something of academic interest.”

Bryson warned, “It is something that, if it continues, will affect the whole human occupation of the earth – like a billion people starving. The effects are already showing up in a rather drastic way.” However, the world population increased by 2.5 billion since that warning.

Fortune had been emphasizing the cooling trend for 20 years. In 1954, it picked up on the idea of a frozen earth and ran an article titled “Climate – the Heat May Be Off.”

The story debunked the notion that “despite all you may have read, heard, or imagined, it’s been growing cooler – not warmer – since the Thirties.”

The claims of global catastrophe were remarkably similar to what the media deliver now about global warming.

“The cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people in poor nations,” wrote Lowell Ponte in his 1976 book “The Cooling.”

If the proper measures weren’t taken, he cautioned, then the cooling would lead to “world famine, world chaos, and probably world war, and this could all come by the year 2000.”

There were more warnings. The Nov. 15, 1969, “Science News” quoted meteorologist Dr. J. Murray Mitchell Jr. about global cooling worries. “How long the current cooling trend continues is one of the most important problems of our civilization,” he said.

If the cooling continued for 200 to 300 years, the earth could be plunged into an ice age, Mitchell continued.

Six years later, the periodical reported “the cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.”

A city in a snow globe illustrated that March 1, 1975, article, while the cover showed an ice age obliterating an unfortunate city.

In 1975, cooling went from “one of the most important problems” to a first-place tie for “death and misery.” “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind,” said Nigel Calder, a former editor of “New Scientist.”

He claimed it was not his disposition to be a “doomsday man.” His analysis came from “the facts [that] have emerged” about past ice ages, according to the July/August International Wildlife Magazine.

The idea of a worldwide deep freeze snowballed.

Naturally, science fiction authors embraced the topic. Writer John Christopher delivered a book on the coming ice age in 1962 called “The World in Winter.”

In Christopher’s novel, England and other “rich countries of the north” broke down under the icy onslaught.

“The machines stopped, the land was dead and the people went south,” he explained.

James Follett took a slightly different tack. His book “Ice” was about “a rogue Antarctic iceberg” that “becomes a major world menace.” Follett in his book conceived “the teeth chattering possibility of how Nature can punish those who foolishly believe they have mastered her.”

Global Warming: 1929-1969

Today’s global warming advocates probably don’t even realize their claims aren’t original. Before the cooling worries of the ’70s, America went through global warming fever for several decades around World War II.

The nation entered the “longest warm spell since 1776,” according to a March 27, 1933, New York Times headline. Shifting climate gears from ice to heat, the Associated Press article began “That next ice age, if one is coming … is still a long way off.”

One year earlier, the paper reported that “the earth is steadily growing warmer” in its May 15 edition. The Washington Post felt the heat as well and titled an article simply “Hot weather” on August 2, 1930.

That article, reminiscent of a stand-up comedy routine, told readers that the heat was so bad, people were going to be saying, “Ah, do you remember that torrid summer of 1930. It was so hot that * * *.”

The Los Angeles Times beat both papers to the heat with the headline: “Is another ice age coming?” on March 11, 1929. Its answer to that question: “Most geologists think the world is growing warmer, and that it will continue to get warmer.”

Meteorologist J. B. Kincer of the federal weather bureau published a scholarly article on the warming world in the September 1933 “Monthly Weather Review.”

The article began discussing the “wide-spread and persistent tendency toward warmer weather” and asked “Is our climate changing?” Kincer proceeded to document the warming trend. Out of 21 winters examined from 1912-33 in Washington, D.C., 18 were warmer than normal and all of the past 13 were mild.

New Haven, Conn., experienced warmer temperatures, with evidence from records that went “back to near the close of the Revolutionary War,” claimed the analysis. Using records from various other cities, Kincer showed that the world was warming.

British amateur meteorologist G. S. Callendar made a bold claim five years later that many would recognize now. He argued that man was responsible for heating up the planet with carbon dioxide emissions – in 1938.

It wasn’t a common notion at the time, but he published an article in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society on the subject. “In the following paper I hope to show that such influence is not only possible, but is actually occurring at the present time,” Callendar wrote. He went on the lecture circuit describing carbon-dioxide-induced global warming.

But Callendar didn’t conclude his article with an apocalyptic forecast, as happens in today’s global warming stories. Instead he said the change “is likely to prove beneficial to mankind in several ways, besides the provision of heat and power.” Furthermore, it would allow for greater agriculture production and hold off the return of glaciers “indefinitely.”

On November 6 the following year, The Chicago Daily Tribune ran an article titled “Experts puzzle over 20 year mercury rise.” It began, “Chicago is in the front rank of thousands of cities thuout [sic] the world which have been affected by a mysterious trend toward warmer climate in the last two decades.”

The rising mercury trend continued into the ’50s. The New York Times reported that “we have learned that the world has been getting warmer in the last half century” on Aug. 10, 1952. According to the Times, the evidence was the introduction of cod in the Eskimo’s diet – a fish they had not encountered before 1920 or so. The following year, the paper reported that studies confirmed summers and winters were getting warmer.

This warming gave the Eskimos more to handle than cod. “Arctic Findings in Particular Support Theory of Rising Global Temperatures,” announced the Times during the middle of winter, on Feb. 15, 1959. Glaciers were melting in Alaska and the “ice in the Arctic ocean is about half as thick as it was in the late nineteenth century.”

A decade later, the Times reaffirmed its position that “the Arctic pack ice is thinning and that the ocean at the North Pole may become an open sea within a decade or two,” according to polar explorer Col. Bernt Bachen in the Feb. 20, 1969, piece.

One of the most surprising aspects of the global warming claims of the 20th Century is that they followed close behind similar theories of another major climate change – that one an ice age.

Global Cooling: 1895-1932

The world knew all about cold weather in the 1800s. America and Europe had escaped a 500-year period of cooling, called the Little Ice Age, around 1850. So when the Times warned of new cooling in 1895, it was a serious prediction.

On Feb. 24, 1895, the Times announced “Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again.” The article debated “whether recent and long-continued observations do not point to the advent of a second glacial period.” Those concerns were brought on by increases in northern glaciers and in the severity of Scandinavia’s climate.

Fear spread through the print media over the next three decades. A few months after the sinking of the Titanic, on Oct. 7, 1912, page one of the Times reported, “Prof. Schmidt Warns Us of an Encroaching Ice Age.”

Scientists knew of four ice ages in the past, leading Professor Nathaniel Schmidt of Cornell University to conclude that one day we will need scientific knowledge “to combat the perils” of the next one.

The same day the Los Angeles Times ran an article about Schmidt as well, entitled “Fifth ice age is on the way.” It was subtitled “Human race will have to fight for its existence against cold.”

That end-of-the-world tone wasn’t unusual. “Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada,” declared a front-page Chicago Tribune headline on Aug. 9, 1923. “Professor Gregory” of Yale University stated that “another world ice-epoch is due.” He was the American representative to the Pan-Pacific Science Congress and warned that North America would disappear as far south as the Great Lakes, and huge parts of Asia and Europe would be “wiped out.”

Gregory’s predictions went on and on. Switzerland would be “entirely obliterated,” and parts of South America would be “overrun.” The good news – “Australia has nothing to fear.” The Washington Post picked up on the story the following day, announcing “Ice Age Coming Here.”

Talk of the ice age threat even reached France. In a New York Times article from Sept. 20, 1922, a penguin found in France was viewed as an “ice-age harbinger.”

Even though the penguin probably escaped from the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, it “caused considerable consternation in the country.”

Some of the sound of the Roaring ’20s was the noise of a coming ice age – prominently covered by The New York Times. Capt. Donald MacMillan began his Arctic expeditions in 1908 with Robert Peary. He was going to Greenland to test the “Menace of a new ice age,” as the Times reported on June 10, 1923.

The menace was coming from “indications in Arctic that have caused some apprehension.” Two weeks later the Times reported that MacMillan would get data to help determine “whether there is any foundation for the theory which has been advanced in some quarters that another ice age is impending.”

On July 4, 1923, the paper announced that the “Explorer Hopes to Determine Whether new ‘Ice Age’ is Coming.”

The Atlanta Constitution also had commented on the impending ice age on July 21, 1923. MacMillan found the “biggest glacier” and reported on the great increase of glaciers in the Arctic as compared to earlier measures.

Even allowing for “the provisional nature of the earlier surveys,” glacial activity had greatly augmented, “according to the men of science.” Not only was “the world of science” following MacMillan, so too were the “radio fans.”

The Christian Science Monitor reported on the potential ice age as well, on July 3, 1923. “Captain MacMillan left Wicasset, Me., two weeks ago for Sydney, the jumping-off point for the north seas, announcing that one of the purposes of his cruise was to determine whether there is beginning another ‘ice age,’ as the advance of glaciers in the last 70 years would seem to indicate.”

Then on Sept. 18, 1924, The New York Times declared the threat was real, saying “MacMillan Reports Signs of New Ice Age.”

Concerns about global cooling continued. Swedish scientist Rutger Sernander also forecasted a new ice age. He headed a Swedish committee of scientists studying “climatic development” in the Scandinavian country.

According to the LA Times on April 6, 1924, he claimed there was “scientific ground for believing” that the conditions “when all winds will bring snow, the sun cannot prevail against the clouds, and three winters will come in one, with no summer between,” had already begun.

That ice age talk cooled in the early 1930s. But The Atlantic in 1932 puffed the last blast of Arctic air in the article “This Cold, Cold World.” Author W. J. Humphries compared the state of the earth to the state of the world before other ice ages. He wrote “If these things be true, it is evident, therefore that we must be just teetering on an ice age.”

Concluding the article he noted the uncertainty of such things, but closed with “we do know that the climatic gait of this our world is insecure and unsteady, teetering, indeed, on an ice age, however near or distant the inevitable fall.”

Cooling and Warming Both Threats to Food

Just like today, the news media were certain about the threat that an ice age posed.

In the 1970s, as the world cooled down, the fear was that mankind couldn’t grow enough food with a longer winter. “Climate Changes Endanger World’s Food Output,” declared a New York Times headline on Aug. 8, 1974, right in the heat of summer.

“Bad weather this summer and the threat of more of it to come hang ominously over every estimate of the world food situation,” the article began.

It continued saying the dire consequences of the cooling climate created a deadly risk of suffering and mass starvation.

Various climatologists issued a statement that “the facts of the present climate change are such that the most optimistic experts would assign near certainty to major crop failure in a decade,” reported the Dec. 29, 1974, New York Times. If policy makers did not account for this oncoming doom, “mass deaths by starvation and probably in anarchy and violence” would result.

Time magazine delivered its own gloomy outlook on the “World Food Crisis” on June 24 of that same year and followed with the article “Weather Change: Poorer Harvests” on November 11.

According to the November story, the mean global surface temperature had fallen just 1 degree Fahrenheit since the 1940s. Yet this small drop “trimmed a week to ten days from the growing season” in the earth’s breadbasket regions.

The prior advances of the Green Revolution that bolstered world agriculture would be vulnerable to the lower temperatures and lead to “agricultural disasters.”

Newsweek was equally downbeat in its article “The Cooling World.” “There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically,” which would lead to drastically decreased food production, it said.

“The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only ten years from now,” the magazine told readers on April 28 the following year.

This, Newsweek said, was based on the “central fact” that “the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down.” Despite some disagreement on the cause and extent of cooling, meteorologists were “almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.”

Despite Newsweek’s claim, agricultural productivity didn’t drop for the rest of the century. It actually increased at an “annual rate of 1.76% over the period 1948 to 2002,” according to the Department of Agriculture.

That didn’t deter the magazine from warning about declining agriculture once again 30 years later – this time because the earth was getting warmer. “Livestock are dying. Crops are withering,” it said in the Aug. 8, 2005, edition. It added that “extremely dry weather of recent months has spawned swarms of locusts” and they were destroying crops in France. Was global warming to blame? “Evidence is mounting to support just such fears,” determined the piece.

U.S. News & World Report was agriculturally pessimistic as well. “Global climate change may alter temperature and rainfall patterns, many scientists fear, with uncertain consequences for agriculture.” That was just 13 years ago, in 1993.

That wasn’t the first time warming was blamed for influencing agriculture. In 1953 William J. Baxter wrote the book “Today’s Revolution in Weather!” on the warming climate. His studies showed “that the heat zone is moving northward and the winters are getting milder with less snowfall.”

Baxter titled a chapter in his book “Make Room For Trees, Grains, Vegetables and Bugs on the North Express!” The warming world led him to estimate that within 10 years Canada would produce more wheat than the United States, though he said America’s corn dominance would remain.
It was more than just crops that were in trouble. Baxter also noted that fishermen in Maine could catch tropical and semi-tropical fish, which were just beginning to appear. The green crab, which also migrated north, was “slowly killing” the profitable industry of steamer clams.

Ice, Ice Baby

Another subject was prominent whether journalists were warning about global warming or an ice age: glaciers. For 110 years, scientists eyed the mammoth mountains of ice to determine the nature of the temperature shift. Reporters treated the glaciers like they were the ultimate predictors of climate.

In 1895, geologists thought the world was freezing up again due to the “great masses of ice” that were frequently seen farther south than before.

The New York Times reported that icebergs were so bad, and they decreased the temperature of Iceland so much, that inhabitants fearing a famine were “emigrating to North America.”

In 1902, when Teddy Roosevelt became the first president to ride in a car, the Los Angeles Times delivered a story that should be familiar to modern readers. The paper’s story on “Disappearing Glaciers” in the Alps said the glaciers were not “running away,” but rather “deteriorating slowly, with a persistency that means their final annihilation.”

The melting led to alpine hotel owners having trouble keeping patrons. It was established that it was a “scientific fact” that the glaciers were “surely disappearing.” That didn’t happen. Instead they grew once more.

More than 100 years after their “final annihilation” was declared, the LA Times was once again writing the same story. An Associated Press story in the Aug. 21, 2005, paper showed how glacier stories never really change. According to the article: “A sign on a sheer cliff wall nearby points to a mountain hut. It should have been at eye level but is more than 60 feet above visitors’ heads. That’s how much the glacier has shrunk since the sign went up 35 years ago.”

But glacier stories didn’t always show them melting away like ice cubes in a warm drink. The Boston Daily Globe in 1923 reported one purpose of MacMillan’s Arctic expedition was to determine the beginning of the next ice age, “as the advance of glaciers in the last 70 years would indicate.”

When that era of ice-age reports melted away, retreating glaciers were again highlighted. In 1953’s “Today’s Revolution in Weather!” William Baxter wrote that “the recession of glaciers over the whole earth affords the best proof that climate is warming,” despite the fact that the world had been in its cooling phase for more than a decade when he wrote it. He gave examples of glaciers melting in Lapland, the Alps, Mr. Rainer and Antarctica.

Time magazine in 1951 noted permafrost in Russia was receding northward up to 100 yards per year. In 1952, The New York Times kept with the warming trend. It reported the global warming studies of climatologist Dr. Hans W. Ahlmann, whose “trump card” “has been the melting glaciers.” The next year the Times said “nearly all the great ice sheets are in retreat.”

U.S. News and World Report agreed, noted that “winters are getting milder, summers drier. Glaciers are receding, deserts growing” on Jan. 8, 1954.

In the ’70s, glaciers did an about face. Ponte in “The Cooling” warned that “The rapid advance of some glaciers has threatened human settlements in Alaska, Iceland, Canada, China, and the Soviet Union.”

Time contradicted its 1951 report and stated that the cooling trend was here to stay. The June 24, 1974, article was based on those omnipresent “telltale signs” such as the “unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland.”

Even The Christian Science Monitor in the same year noted “glaciers which had been retreating until 1940 have begun to advance.” The article continued, “the North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool.”

The New York Times noted that in 1972 the “mantle of polar ice increased by 12 percent” and had not returned to “normal” size.

North Atlantic sea temperatures declined, and shipping routes were “cluttered with abnormal amounts of ice.”

Furthermore, the permafrost in Russia and Canada was advancing southward, according to the December 29 article that closed out 1974.

Decades later, the Times seemed confused by melting ice. On Dec. 8, 2002, the paper ran an article titled “Arctic Ice Is Melting at Record Level, Scientists Say.” The first sentence read “The melting of Greenland glaciers and Arctic Ocean sea ice this past summer reached levels not seen in decades.”

Was the ice melting at record levels, as the headline stated, or at a level seen decades ago, as the first line mentioned?

On Sept. 14, 2005, the Times reported the recession of glaciers “seen from Peru to Tibet to Greenland” could accelerate and become abrupt.

This, in turn, could increase the rise of the sea level and block the Gulf Stream. Hence “a modern counterpart of the 18,000-year-old global-warming event could trigger a new ice age.”

Government Comes to the Rescue

Mankind managed to survive three phases of fear about global warming and cooling without massive bureaucracy and government intervention, but aggressive lobbying by environmental groups finally changed that reality.

The Kyoto treaty, new emissions standards and foreign regulations are but a few examples.

Getting the government involved to control the weather isn’t a new concept. When the earth was cooling, The New York Times reported on a panel that recommended a multimillion-dollar research program to combat the threat.

That program was to start with $18 million a year in funding and increase to about $67 million by 1980, according to the Jan. 19, 1975, Times. That would be more than $200 million in today’s dollars.

Weather warnings in the ’70s from “reputable researchers” worried policy-makers so much that scientists at a National Academy of Sciences meeting “proposed the evacuation of some six million people” from parts of Africa, reported the Times on Dec. 29, 1974.

That article went on to tell of the costly and unnecessary plans of the old Soviet Union. It diverted time from Cold War activities to scheme about diverting the coming cold front.

It had plans to reroute “large Siberian rivers, melting Arctic ice and damming the Bering Strait” to help warm the “frigid fringes of the Soviet Union.”

Newsweek’s 1975 article “The Cooling World” noted climatologists’ admission that “solutions” to global cooling “such as melting the arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers,” could result in more problems than they would solve.

More recently, 27 European climatologists have become worried that the warming trend “may be irreversible, at least over most of the coming century,” according to Time magazine on Nov. 13, 2000. The obvious solution? Bigger government.

They “should start planning immediately to adapt to the new extremes of weather that their citizens will face – with bans on building in potential flood plains in the north, for example, and water conservation measures in the south.”

Almost 50 policy and research recommendations came with the report.

The news media have given space to numerous alleged solutions to our climate problems.

Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh had some unusual ideas to repel an effect of global warming. In 2002 he had the notion of creating a rainmaker, “which looks like a giant egg whisk,” according to the Evening News of Edinburgh on Dec. 2, 2002.

The Atlantic edition of Newsweek on June 30, 2003, reported on the whisk. The British government gave him 105,000 pounds to research it.

Besides promoting greater prosperity and peace, it could “lift enough seawater to lower sea levels by a meter, stemming the rise of the oceans – one of the most troublesome consequences of global warming.” The rain created would be redirected toward land using the wind’s direction.

Instead of just fixing a symptom of global warming, Salter now wants to head it off. He wants to spray water droplets into low altitude clouds to increase their whiteness and block out more sunlight.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has considered other ways to lower temperatures and the media were there to give them credence.

Newsweek on May 20, 1991, reported on five ways to fight warming from the National Research Council, the operating arm of the NAS.

The first idea was to release “billions of aluminized, hydrogen-filled balloons” to reflect sunlight. To reflect more sunlight, “fire one-ton shells filled with dust into the upper atmosphere.” Airplane engines could pollute more in order to release a “layer of soot” to block the sun. Should any sunlight remain, 50,000 orbiting mirrors, 39 square miles each, could block it out.

With any heat left, “infrared lasers on mountains” could be used “to zap rising CFCs,” rendering them harmless.

Global Warming: 1981-Present and Beyond

The media have bombarded Americans almost daily with the most recent version of the climate apocalypse.

Global warming has replaced the media’s ice age claims, but the results somehow have stayed the same – the deaths of millions or even billions of people, widespread devastation and starvation.

The recent slight increase in temperature could “quite literally, alter the fundamentals of life on the planet” argued the Jan. 18, 2006, Washington Post.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times wrote a column that lamented the lack of federal spending on global warming.

“We spend about $500 billion a year on a military budget, yet we don’t want to spend peanuts to protect against climate change,” he said in a Sept. 27, 2005, piece.

Kristof’s words were noteworthy, not for his argument about spending, but for his obvious use of the term “climate change.” While his column was filled with references to “global warming,” it also reflected the latest trend as the coverage has morphed once again.

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but can mean something entirely different.

The latest threat has little to do with global warming and has everything to do with … everything.

The latest predictions claim that warming might well trigger another ice age.

The warm currents of the Gulf Stream, according to a 2005 study by the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, U.K., have decreased 30 percent.

This has raised “fears that it might fail entirely and plunge the continent into a mini ice age,” as the Gulf Stream regulates temperatures in Europe and the eastern United States. This has “long been predicted” as a potential ramification of global warming.

Hollywood picked up on this notion before the study and produced “The Day After Tomorrow.” In the movie global warming triggered an immediate ice age. People had to dodge oncoming ice. Americans were fleeing to Mexico. Wolves were on the prowl. Meanwhile our hero, a government paleoclimatologist, had to go to New York City to save his son from the catastrophe.

But it’s not just a potential ice age. Every major weather event becomes somehow linked to “climate change.”

Numerous news reports connected Hurricane Katrina with changing global temperatures. Droughts, floods and more have received similar media treatment.

Even The New York Times doesn’t go that far – yet.

In an April 23, 2006, piece, reporter Andrew C. Revkin gave no credence to that coverage. “At the same time, few scientists agree with the idea that the recent spate of potent hurricanes, European heat waves, African drought and other weather extremes are, in essence, our fault. There is more than enough natural variability in nature to mask a direct connection, they say.”

Unfortunately, that brief brush with caution hasn’t touched the rest of the media.
Time magazine’s recent cover story included this terrifying headline:

“Polar Ice Caps Are Melting Faster Than Ever... More And More; Land Is Being Devastated By Drought... Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities... By Any Measure, Earth Is At ... The Tipping Point The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon —and what we can do about it”

That attitude reflects far more of the current media climate. As the magazine claimed, many of today’s weather problems can be blamed on the changing climate.

“Disasters have always been with us and surely always will be. But when they hit this hard and come this fast — when the emergency becomes commonplace —something has gone grievously wrong. That something is global warming,” Time said.


The Business & Media Institute (BMI) examined how the major media have covered the issue of climate change over a long period of time. Because television only gained importance in the post-World War II period, BMI looked at major print outlets.

There were limitations with that approach because some major publications lack the lengthy history that others enjoy. However, the search covered more than 30 publications from the 1850s to 2006 — including newspapers, magazines, journals and books.

Recent newspaper and magazine articles were obtained from Lexis-Nexis. All other magazine articles were acquired from the Library of Congress either in print or microfilm.

Older newspapers were obtained from ProQuest. The extensive bibliography includes every publication cited in this report. BMI looked through thousands of headlines and chose hundreds of stories to analyze.

Dates on the time periods for cooling and warming reporting phases are approximate, and are derived from the stories that BMI analyzed.


What can one conclude from 110 years of conflicting climate coverage except that the weather changes and the media are just as capricious?

Certainly, their record speaks for itself. Four separate and distinct climate theories targeted at a public taught to believe the news. Only all four versions of the truth can’t possibly be accurate.

For ordinary Americans to judge the media’s version of current events about global warming, it is necessary to admit that journalists have misrepresented the story three other times.

Yet no one in the media is owning up to that fact. Newspapers that pride themselves on correction policies for the smallest errors now find themselves facing a historical record that is enormous and unforgiving.

It is time for the news media to admit a consistent failure to report this issue fairly or accurately, with due skepticism of scientific claims.


It would be difficult for the media to do a worse job with climate change coverage. Perhaps the most important suggestion would be to remember the basic rules about journalism and set aside biases — a simple suggestion, but far from easy given the overwhelming extent of the problem.

Three of the guidelines from the Society of Professional Journalists are especially appropriate:

“Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.”

“Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.”

“Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.”

That last bullet point could apply to almost any major news outlet in the United States. They could all learn something and take into account the historical context of media coverage of climate change.

Some other important points include:

Don’t Stifle Debate: Most scientists do agree that the earth has warmed a little more than a degree in the last 100 years. That doesn’t mean that scientists concur mankind is to blame. Even if that were the case, the impact of warming is unclear.

People in northern climes might enjoy improved weather and longer growing seasons.

Don’t Ignore the Cost: Global warming solutions pushed by environmental groups are notoriously expensive. Just signing on to the Kyoto treaty would have cost the United States several hundred billion dollars each year, according to estimates from the U.S. government generated during President Bill Clinton’s term.

Every story that talks about new regulations or forced cutbacks on emissions should discuss the cost of those proposals.

Report Accurately on Statistics: Accurate temperature records have been kept only since the end of the 19th Century, shortly after the world left the Little Ice Age. So while recorded temperatures are increasing, they are not the warmest ever. A 2003 study by Harvard and the Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “20th Century Climate Not So Hot,” “determined that the 20th century is neither the warmest century nor the century with the most extreme weather of the past 1,000 years.



For sources click here

6 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 14, 2009 at 6:33 AM, sleepreading (< 20) wrote:

Great post. +1 rec

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#2) On December 14, 2009 at 9:32 AM, ChrisGraley (28.49) wrote:

The government will want to take advantage of both phobias!

Hmm... How do we make money off of global cooling mania?

We already have Cap and trade.... Cap and scarf?

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#3) On December 14, 2009 at 12:32 PM, devoish (65.60) wrote:

Because there was no credit for the article given in the OP I would like to share it with you.

Copyright R. Warren Anderson, Business & Media Institute, 2006

Now, in order to assess the article, we have to learn abourt the Business & Media Institute, especially since the Center for Research on Globalization will not vouch for the information in this article. From the disclaimer at the end of your link;

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.

(This is a royal pain in the A**, I mean really, who has time flor this crap, right?)

There are three major themes running throughout this article. 1) you cannot trust the news reporting of climate change. 2) therefore it is rational to doubt climate change.  3) you can trust us.

So next we visit the Business & Media Institute's website whose mission statement reads "Advancing the Culture of Free Enterprise in America".  Now you have to respect that. Even as they author an article telling us how bad biased media is for America, they put their bias right in the title banner. Seriously, that part is honest, unless you are an idiot you know where they stand.

From their "About Us" page they say (among other things);     Before the Media Research Center (MRC) launched the Business & Media Institute (BMI) in 1992, there was no entity in America devoted solely to analyzing and exposing the anti-free enterprise culture of the media. With the BMI in operation, that void has been filled.

Ok, so they have been dedicated to their free enterprise mission for fifteen years, before that they may have been part of a larger more diverse organization.

They also like to portray themselves as underdogs fighting a great media bias against free enterprise. From "about us"; “Finally there is an organized effort to put an end to the embarrassing media bias against the free market – and we can thank the folks at BMI for it.

With over 100 radio and television appearances in April of 2009 and what looks like over 1000 this year, including the Glenn Beck show, Fox and Friends, and Dennis Kneale, it appears BMI may be the misleading main stream media you are railing against. Note to those doing due diligence and keeping a fair and open mind. I have not investigated context for TV appearances by one organizaion. It is possible Al Gore and the treehuggers are getting more time on FOX  than BMI (want to bet?).

Of course the Business & Media Institute has connections. Let's meet the "business and media institute".

From Sourcewatch:

The PTC was founded in 1995 as a project of the conservative media watchdog group, the Media Research Center. In August 2000 the PTC was incorporated and the following year the two split to become two separate legal entities. In 2001 the PTC established its headquarters in Los Angeles. Brent Bozell, who founded the MRC, was president of both organisations. In January 2007 he resigned as President of the PTC but remains a member of the board of directors.[1]

The PTC ( Parents Television Council) which has the same founding organization and President that we are being asked to trust has had trouble with integrity;

In November of 2000, Media Research Center and Parents Television Council were sued by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) after using unauthorized footage of WWE in a fundraising video and falsely claiming that WWE was incidental in the murders of four children. [3] Additionally, PTC/MRC falsely claimed that various advertisers had pulled their sponsorship from the show. A federal judge reviewing the suit found that the advertisers in question had never sponsored WWE. The WWE alleged 13 instances of defamation, copyright infringement and interference with prospective business relations and sought $55 million in damages.

PTC/MRC moved to dismiss in June 2001, but the motion was rejected. In July of 2002, PTC settled with the WWE out of court for a sum of $3.5 million. [4] President Brent Bozell wrote in a lengthy public statement that "It was wrong to have stated or implied that the WWE or any of its programs caused these tragic deaths." [5]The apology was posted on the PTC website for a period of six months as part of the settlement agreement.

I  have to caution myself now. This incident does not mean the article we are reading is misleading. Here I have to watch my "liberal bias" (or as I like to think of it - experience) from getting the best of me. So in the article, what was it that made me doubt it? 1) This was not an article about climate science, it was an article about media used to cast doubt on climate science. 2) The author repeatedly protrays himself and his organization as an underdog which is not journalism, it is marketing. 3) There is no context. They claim to have sifted through climate change articles researching back to the 1850's and yet find absolutely none to hold up as examples of good reporting on climate change. Not one in 160 years. Not 80% were poorly written, or 90% or 10%. This article lists only one side of the story while also reminding us good journalism should “Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.” 

And yet, they did not meet that standard.

On to the article itself, which appears (notice I used the word "appears", to foretell my conclusion that things may not be as they appear) which claims to have thoroughly researched news articles back to 1850, found that media has poorly reported climate storys, and gives examples of the overly alarmist reported storys it found.

Let's try something. Let's scroll back up ^ and read one of their examples of poorly reported storys, and see if I agree with BMI that reports of climate change are historically alarmist. And I swear to you all, this is the first (let me emhasize "FIRST") one I looked at.

Now I love history. I love learning what David in Qatar leaves out of his reports, I love reading actual articles written from different time periods. From their mocking of the reporting of Global cooling 1895-1932 I find mention of a global cooling story which includes Penguins Combining cute animals and climate is pretty typical of emotional, not rational appeals so I presume that this story would be well representative of their claim of misleading reporting, plus, I like cute aimal storys.

They report;

Talk of the ice age threat even reached France. In a New York Times article from Sept. 20, 1922, a penguin found in France was viewed as an “ice-age harbinger.”

Even though the penguin probably escaped from the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, it “caused considerable consternation in the country.”

One thing is for sure here, BMI is not pointing out this NY Times article as an example of what honest, rational, fair minded reporting should look like, but it is the example they chose to prove climate reporting is overly alarmist.

So are we being told the New York Times portrayed a Penguin found in France as an "ice-age harbinger" even though diligent and honest reporting would have discovered that the penguin probably escaped from the Antartic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship.

That is not quite true either, though in an article focusing on bad climate reporting a person skimming through might get that impression.

The quoted phrase does not say the NY Times portrayed the Penguins appearance as an ice-age harbinger, just that someone did. Whether those someones were the NY Times, a French newspaper or fisherman drinking in the local bar is left to our imagination, after talking about how badly newspapers have exagerrated storys of climate change.  Being mentioned among a list of badly reported articles, is not actually saying the Times badly reported this one, but leaving out the name of whoever said it was an "ice age harbinger" certainly suggests the responsibility lies at the NY times feet.

Let me remind you that in an article that mentions no example of "good" climate reporting BMI is asking me to believe them that the NY Times article in 1922 portrayed a Penguin found in France as an ice-age harbinger.  and that good quality reporting of climate change would have doubted that conclusion because of the likelihood that the the Penguin probably escaped from the Antartic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship.

Now I am trying to determine if BMI's reporting of historically inaccurate climate reporting is accurate, and the only way to really to do that is to read the original NY Times article (and you can bet that I did before I posted this) and see if it truly is an example of BMI's claims of inaccurate one sided alarmist reporting.

It is also nice to learn how hard an honest institution like BMI works to uncover the rational truths supposedly missing from historically slanted and alarmist climate change reporting.

If you go to the link supplied by alkusari you will learn that this article first appeared in 2006 and has now resurfaced in 2009 with no response (Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.”) from climate Scientists or the NY Times or anyone else called to task in the article.

It is time to let the NY Times article speak for itself, rather than have BMI's portrayal continue. 

'Penguin Startles France'

Bird, Probably from Shackelton Ship, seen as Ice Age Harbinger

A Penguin which has arrived on the French coast near Cherbourg has caused considerable consternation in the country. Never hitherto has a Penguin been known to visit France and combined with the Artic weather conditions from which France is suffering, the appearance of the bird, in some minds suggests that the ice age is about to set in again.

The more probable explanation, however, is that the Penguin escaped from Shackeltons ship, the Quest, during her voyage home and has crossed the channel on the first stage back to the South Pole. -

The NY Times, Sept 20, 1922.

Seems to me this represents fair and balnaced reporting and is completely out of place in an article purporting to show unbalanced, alarmist, climate change reporting.

Instead it shows that NY Times then, is much better at reporting, than BMI is today.


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#4) On December 14, 2009 at 1:10 PM, devoish (65.60) wrote:

I chose a second story to investigate, this one form a meteorologist, typically a more balanced source. You will have to read the article from Kincer yourself to see if it should be included in an article about "alarmist" reporting or if it seems a more "just the facts, ma'a,m" kind of report to you. It is  also interesting in that it adresses the issue of "heat islands" as long ago as 1933, still a popular theme among skeptics.

This is the portion BMI shares with us.

Meteorologist J. B. Kincer of the federal weather bureau published a scholarly article on the warming world in the September 1933 “Monthly Weather Review.”

 The article began discussing the “wide-spread and persistent tendency toward warmer weather” and asked “Is our climate changing?” Kincer proceeded to document the warming trend. Out of 21 winters examined from 1912-33 in Washington, D.C., 18 were warmer than normal and all of the past 13 were mild.

New Haven, Conn., experienced warmer temperatures, with evidence from records that went “back to near the close of the Revolutionary War,” claimed the analysis. Using records from various other cities, Kincer showed that the world was warming.

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#5) On December 15, 2009 at 12:31 AM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

"A 2003 study by Harvard and the Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “20th Century Climate Not So Hot,” “determined that the 20th century is neither the warmest century nor the century with the most extreme weather of the past 1,000 years."
That flawed paper resurfaces again:

"This is how it begins: Proponents of a fringe or non-mainstream scientific viewpoint seek added credibility. They're sick of being taunted for having few (if any) peer reviewed publications in their favor. Fed up, they decide to do something about it.
These “skeptics” find what they consider to be a weak point in the mainstream theory and critique it. Not by conducting original research; they simply review previous work. Then they find a little-known, not particularly influential journal where an editor sympathetic to their viewpoint hangs his hat.
They get their paper through the peer review process and into print. They publicize the hell out of it. Activists get excited by the study, which has considerable political implications.
Before long, mainstream scientists catch on to what’s happening. They shake their heads. Some slam the article and the journal that published it, questioning the review process and the editor’s ideological leanings. In published critiques, they tear the paper to scientific shreds.
Embarrassed, the journal’s publisher backs away from the work. But it’s too late for that. The press has gotten involved, and though the work in question has been discredited in the world of science, partisans who favor its conclusions for ideological reasons will champion it for years to come.
The scientific waters are muddied. The damage is done.
Soon and Baliunas had specifically sent their paper to one Chris de Freitas at Climate Research, an editor known for opposing curbs on carbon dioxide emissions. He in turn sent the paper out for review and then accepted it for publication. That’s when the controversy began.
Conservative politicians in the U.S., who oppose forced restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, lionized the study. Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe called it literally paradigm shifting. The Bush administration attempted to edit an Environmental Protection Agency report’s discussion of climate change in order to include reference to the Soon and Baliunas work. None of this should come as a surprise: The paper seemed to undermine a key piece of evidence suggesting that we can actually see and measure the consequences of human-induced climate change.
Soon mainstream climate scientists fought back. Thirteen authored a devastating critique of the work in the American Geophysical Union publication Eos. After seeing the critique, Climate Research editor-in-chief Hans von Storch decided he had to make changes in the journal’s editorial process. But when journal colleagues refused to go along, von Storch announced his resignation.
Several other Climate Research editors subsequently resigned over the Soon and Baliunas paper. Even journal publisher Otto Kinne eventually admitted that the paper suffered from serious flaws, basically agreeing with its critics. But by that point in time, Inhofe had already devoted a Senate hearing to trumpeting the new study. However dubious, it made a massive splash."

As for the rest of your blog entry, this comic is the most succint answer:

1- Déjà vu All Over Again. Skeptical Inquirer.

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#6) On January 18, 2016 at 6:12 PM, lgilman (< 20) wrote:

Et tu, Motley Fool?  What on Earth are you doing, still promulgating this veritable Cherry-Picking Festival of tendentious selectivity and flat-out factual wrongness?  Contrary to the whole "periodic" framing here, it is not true that there has ever once, since the advent of modern geoscience, been a scientific consensus in favor of anything but global warming driven by greenhouse gas emissions. Newsweek's oft-cited 1970s article was not a scientific paper and did not reflect majority scientific opinion, which was already tipped heavily toward global warming because the basic physics of the thing are so compelling.   Since that time, contrary to what this this multifariously nutty and distorted bit of writing claims, an extremely solid scientific consensus (>98% of scientists working in relevant fields) has developed to the effect that climate change is (a) real (b) human-caused and (c) dangerous.  This consensus has been driven by agreement among over-more numerous, convergent, closely-studied, checked-and-re-checked, independent lines of evidence.  The world has warmed and the seas are rising. 2015 was the warmest year on the instrumental record by a long shot; Arctic ice is in a death-spiral; 14 of the 15 warmest years in the instrumental record have occurred since 2000.  Is what a "periodic" intellectual fashion looks like?  What would global warming look like, if not this?  The scientific evidence is compactly reviewed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science at ; the (actual) history of global climate science is reviewed in detail by Weart, courtesy of the American Institute of Physics, at .

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