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‘Cooling World’ Author Calls Us ‘Deniers’

In our online travels we stumbled across this article from last March published by the New York Examiner:

Peter Gwynne, author of the ‘The Cooling World’, Newsweek 1975

Dylan Otto Krider

March 2, 2009

One of the main pillars of global warming denial rests on the shoulders of “The Cooling World” by Peter Gwynne in the April 28, 1975 issue of Newsweek.

Interest in the 34 year old story prompted the editor to call it “the most-cited single-page story in our history.”

The editor then noted, “Global warming soon led scientists to put such concerns aside, but those who doubt that greenhouse gases are causing significant climate change have long pointed to the 1975 NEWSWEEK piece as an example of how wrong journalists and researchers can be.”

And, according to Gwynne, I am the second person in the last 34 years to ask the author specifically about the piece. He responded by email:

Thank you for your note. You’ve hit on a point that has bugged me for a few years now, ever since I learned that the deniers of global warming were using my Newsweek piece to support their position. As you correctly point out, the article summarized the science of the time. Since then, numerous climate-sensing satellites have gone into orbit and theoretical understanding of atmospheric chemistry has improved considerably. I have occasionally thought of publishing an update to the article, but I’ve always decided that such an action would garner unwanted notoriety without changing any minds.

So, we decided it was about time to take another look at this article, and ask where Gwynne might have gone wrong, if at all…

Gwynne doesn’t have a problem with Newsweek’s revisit the article that declared, “the story wasn’t ‘wrong’ in the journalistic sense of ‘inaccurate.’" Indeed, at the time, not only were there some papers suggesting cooling, but the Earth had been cooling from the 40s through the 70s.

Gwynne says, “It was at the time an accurate representation of what was going on in the field. It was an accurate representation of what climatologists believed, and what was actually happening.”

Gwynne remembers there were studies that demonstrated concern about the food supply. “Again, it was not any sort of immediate concern the way global warming is now,” he says.

In grand scheme of things, the cooling was just an interesting little weather story that quickly disappeared. “I don’t think at the time anybody took all that much notice of it because it didn’t portend all the impending disaster the way global warming now does,” Gwynne says.

If Gwynne had it to do over again, is there anything he would have changed?

“I think possibly the only thing would be to add, ‘These things are never fixed in stone, the fact that there has been cooling in the early part of the century doesn’t mean that will continue,’ but I could have written that on the end of any science story I ever wrote. That’s kind of the nature of science and that’s why I ultimately decided not to do it.”

Now, with these comments in mind, let’s revisit Mr. Gwynne’s original 1975 article, which we posted back in March of 2007:

The Cooling World

By Peter Gwynne
28 April 1975

There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production — with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas — parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia — where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon.

The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually.

During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree — a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation

To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic.

“A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, “because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.”

“The world’s food-producing system,” warns Dr. James D. McQuigg of NOAA’s Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment, “is much more sensitive to the weather variable than it was even five years ago.”

Furthermore, the growth of world population and creation of new national boundaries make it impossible for starving peoples to migrate from their devastated fields, as they did during past famines.

Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects.

This must be what Mr. Gwynne meant when he said that there were some concerns about the food supply, but “not any sort of immediate concern the way global warming is now.”

And what he meant when he went on to say that global cooling “didn’t portend all the impending disaster the way global warming now does.”

Except that it all sounds almost word for word like the global warming alarmists are saying now.

And, indeed, note how Mr. Gwynne’s 1975 article concludes:

[S]cientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.

It sure sounds like Mr. Gwynne was claiming that there was an "impending disaster." And that the world leaders had better act quickly.

Nevertheless, when Mr. Gwynne was asked if he had it to do over again, he said:

The only thing would be to add, ‘These things are never fixed in stone, the fact that there has been cooling in the early part of the century doesn’t mean that will continue.’

And yet Mr. Gwynne has the temerity to call those who don’t accept global warming “deniers.”

It is safe to say that Mr. Gwynne has not learned a single thing from his notorious mistake.

Which, some to think of it, must have made him a perfect Newsweek reporter.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, October 11th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “‘Cooling World’ Author Calls Us ‘Deniers’”

  1. Gila Monster says:

    I’m proud to be a denier!!

  2. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Where’s my hockey stick?

  3. proreason says:

    What a fool this guy his.

    His 1975 theory isn’t cited because people believe it any more than people believe the global warming myth.

    The stupid article is cited because it illustrates perfectly that the level of confidence these fools pretend to have is irrelevant. Until somebody really figures this stuff out, they are all wrong. Predicting the weather, short term and long term, is still way beyond man’s capabilities. And it may never be possible. Earth isn’t exactly a test-tube. The amazing thing is that no scientist will pretend to understand vulanism, or pretend to be able to predict the actions of the Sun, or to have a deep understanding of our oceans, or the factors that have made dramatic changes in the Earth’s weather for billions of years. Yet, they declare “with certainty” that Co2 is destoying the planet. If I thought for a second they believed it themselves, it would be breathtaking arrogance. But they don’t believe it. They willingingly prostrate themselve to politicians for money. They are whores.

    And overturning our lives because of their latest shot in the dark is Orwellian.

  4. BillK says:

    I believe I’ve mentioned before that one of my friends actually found his grade school writing assignment in which their teacher had them suggest ways in which we could warm the atmosphere to try and stave off a new ice age.

    The teacher had suggested such things as burning old tires to create soot that might keep heat close to the earth’s surface.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    For anyone with a scientific mind, remember that climate change is based entirely on computer models.

    Computer models that cannot accurately predict the weather.

    Computer models written to model the effects scientists expect to see.

    Not observations. Not models based on observations.

    But models built around the assumption “Global Warming is happening because of these factors – what happens if these factors rise?”

    It’s madness.

  5. beautyofreason says:

    “Again, it was not any sort of immediate concern the way global warming is now,” he says.”

    “these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production — with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon…”

    So he sets off worldwide, chicken little hysteria and gives the environmentalists on the left a center stage for over a decade, then says “it’s not set in stone?”

    But hey, drastic worldwide starvation is nothing compared to our immediate need to stop global warming by targeting capitalism and the consumer. Leave no rubbish bin untaxed, no fine uncollected, no carbon output unmeasured, no free condom unopened (population control is also one of the left’s niche groups to tackle climate change). Must save the planet by extinguishing the only species capable of radio astronomy!

  6. wirenut says:

    I’m watching our second snow fall in as many days here in west central Wisconsin. Only about a month early too!
    I just love this global warming thing, it just “frosts” me. Anybody up for some iceberg lettuce, snowpeas and ice cream? Haw!

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