Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Monday 11/26/12

No Call For Global Cooling In 1970s

An article carried in our DTN ag news segment over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend on a producer attitude survey featured an idea that needs some clarification. The idea was voiced in the article portion on producer attitudes regarding global warming. Here is the paragraph in question:

In June 1974, Time magazine wondered, "Another Ice Age?" In April 1975, Newsweek suggested the polar ice caps be melted for drinking water in the coming big freeze. (Newsweek issued a correction 31 years later, in 2006, saying it had been "spectacularly wrong.")

The reason I bring this paragraph up is that I have heard more than one reference to this "Ice Age" idea that was expressed by news magazines now almost 40 years ago as emanating from the scientific community. And this idea has been publicized to cast doubt on global warming research and conclusions. Such an idea is incorrect.

As reported by USA Today in February 2008, National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) researcher Thomas Peterson surveyed dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles from 1965 to 1979 and found that only seven supported global cooling, while 44 predicted warming. Peterson found that 20 others were neutral in their assessments of climate trends.

The total--71 articles reviewed. 44 (62 percent) predicted warming. 20 (28 percent) were neutral. And 7 (10 percent) predicted global cooling.

The USA Today article can be found here:…


I'm on Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Posted at 2:49PM CST 11/26/12 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (18)
I agree the earth is warming.I don't beleive CO2 is the cause.CO2 and O2 are both colorless.Their ratio shouldn't make any difference in the heat absorbtion of the suns rayes. The covering of the soil with concrete,pavement and buidings is another story. Animals breath air and exhale CO2. Plants breath air and exhale O2. When you cover the soil, plants can't grow to keep the ratio constant. Also cocrete and pavement absorb and retain heet. More and more cropland has been covered for roads and buildings. If man is the cause of the warming, the covering of the soil is the reason.
Posted by FRANK FULWIDER at 11:07PM CST 11/26/12
Regarding the urbanization impact--this has been very closely studied, and the research shows that urbanization does not account for the warming that has taken place. Both rural and urban areas show the same level of warming. Also, the greatest amount of warming that has been measured is over the far northern latitudes--far northern Russia, Greenland, the Arctic--where there is very little of the urban heat island effect.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 5:24AM CST 11/27/12
Regarding carbon dioxide (CO2)--much research has been done over the years testifying to the impact that CO2 has on its contribution to heating. It is a potent greenhouse gas.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 5:31AM CST 11/27/12
Frank, The glass in your car windows is colorless & odorless, too, but yet your car heats up much faster than the air around it during summer afternoons, correct? That CO2 is colorless simply means that light passes through unimpeded. However, once the light is absorbed by the earth, whether ground, trees, pavement, etc., infrared radiation (heat) is emitted. Infrared radiation is not on the visible spectrum, and therefore it doesn't matter that CO2 is transparent to light--it is not fully transparent to IR radiation. The exact same effect occurs with your car, with your seats playing the role of the ground and your windows playing the role of the atmosphere.
Posted by MATTHEW ROBERTS at 5:45AM CST 11/27/12
Matthew, I'm surprised that there are people who understand these things. I only recently read a book on the history of thermodynamic theory and became aware that the sun's radiation is re-radiated from earth as infrared rays and thus subject to being trapped by greenhouse gases. I believe this idea was first promulgated as early as 1820. In other words it wasn't dreamed up 20 years ago by some tree-hugging hippie. I'm also grateful to Bryce for giving the lie to the idea that the notion we were headed for another "Ice Age" once had the currency that global warming has now.
Posted by JOE ELLENBECKER at 6:16AM CST 11/27/12
Bryce, Sometime I would like to know how and why the atmospheric CO2 was measured before the industrial age, as your recent post eluded to? Then, explain how we just had one of the strongest LaNina events, which is the cooling of a massive area of the Pacific, in the face of global warming?
Posted by Curt Zingula at 7:41AM CST 11/27/12
It looks like the majority of voters have chosen a president that believes that carbon is the cause of climate change and that renewable energy (non-fossil fuel) is the way to go. It is now time for the people to insist on doing something rather then debate an irrelevant argument. We need to act fast, a carbon tax or national REC program (one I agree with) should be designed and mandated ASAP! These programs will help farmers as well as the environment. The GOP lost, they lost big time in favor of people for a cleaner and cooler planet, arguing about an article 30 years ago or how colorless CO2 is or some emails is futile, now is the time to do something to bring change before dust bowls and super storms destroy 30% of the species on earth, humans being one of them! Climate change is no longer political any more then the Scopes trial is important today, they are both "junk politics".
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 7:46AM CST 11/27/12
By the way, I remember reading the Des Moines Register in the early '70's about the "Coming Ice Age". Your post Bryce, proves that we can't trust the media. I have to have my common sense appeased before I believe anything I read. And my common sense, as a farmer trying to wrestle a living from the ravages of mother nature, it that nature is far more powerfull than man!
Posted by Curt Zingula at 7:50AM CST 11/27/12
Science was virtually undiscussed in the Presidential election, Jay. It's assumptions that make me pause to conclude anything about man made global warming! For now, I don't see the sky falling - just fewer people dying from exposure to cold vs heat. We produce an abundance of food in this global warming environment (unfortunately, obeseity is proof of that). I, like Dr. Patrick Moore of Greenpeace fame, see the positives of global warming. Moore points out that people seek warmer climates and where the ice melts, trees have taken root. Our cup is half full.
Posted by Curt Zingula at 8:13AM CST 11/27/12
George Bush must have been president tens of thousands of years ago when Greenland was covered with vegitation. Or were those ice cores that show this to be true just a GOP conspiracy?
Posted by Brandon Butler at 9:29AM CST 11/27/12
Bush, Cheney et al had/have Big Oil. Algore, Obama et al have Green Energy. (If you don't think the latter is a big money grab, well the word naive comes to mind.) Just take a little look-see at who some of these climate change proponents get funded by. By the way, doesn't 'climate change proponent' seem an awful lot like a 'sun moves across the sky from east to west' proponent? As in "DUHHH!!!!" This whole thing is just like the last scene in Animal Farm: "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
Posted by Brandon Butler at 9:45AM CST 11/27/12
Greenland was warm in the time from 800-1200 A.D., but the warmth we are seeing now surpasses that time period. And the causes are different--due to greenhouse gas concentration as opposed to the ocean current patterns in place around that time period. The National Academy of Sciences did a climate reconstruction research project which came to those conclusions. More information is at this link:
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 9:53AM CST 11/27/12
Regarding the comment on this blog item showing that you can't trust the media--my purpose in posting this blog item is spelled out. If you have questions about it, re-read the post.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 9:56AM CST 11/27/12
As to the occurrence of El Nino or La Nina-- A number of studies have been done looking at the relationship between such events as El Nino or La Nina and the long-term global warming. One such study done by Martin Hoerling in 2008, which examined the temperature record from 1880 to 2007, finds that internal variability such as El Nino has relatively small impact on the long term trend. Instead, research finds that long term trends in sea surface temperatures are driven predominantly by the planet's energy imbalance. You can read that study at this link:
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 10:29AM CST 11/27/12
That's fine. I did not know that about Greenland. So what killed the dinosaurs? For every study you show me, I could find one that refutes it in some other way. Hence the tit for tat. What I find is utter lunacy is this: 1) Climate has ALWAYS changed, albeit for varying factors. 2) The whole "Do as I say, not as I do" crowd. Fine. If you want things changed, be out in the open about it. The way this thing is being shoved down our throats REEKS of socialism, done to enrich the few at the expense of many. Don't b.s. a b.s.'er.
Posted by Brandon Butler at 2:07PM CST 11/27/12
Links posted are for further information on questions. You're free to click or not click on them but if you want more details they are available. Research items that are linked here have been peer-reviewed by the scientific community and have passed rigorous tests for scholarship and validity. And to reiterate the point of the original blog post---the scientific community, as shown in a close examination of publications over a 15-year period from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s, did not predict a sudden turn in climate conditions to cooler global conditions. This is contrary to a theme which has been repeated far too often as a verbal means of casting doubt on global warming research.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 3:47PM CST 11/27/12
My comments point was that the ratio didn't matter. Show me an experment where a sealed car filled with CO2 getts hotter or heats up quiker than a car filled with O2 and I''ll believe CO2 is a green house gas.
Posted by FRANK FULWIDER at 7:17AM CST 11/28/12
Just do a search for "how is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas" and you will get a detailed but pretty plain-English answer from Wiki-answers. Here is just part of the explanatory article: "In fact, any gas with three or more atoms acts as a greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide captures some of this radiated heat and keeps it in the atmosphere. This is how it acts as a greenhouse gas." The full article is at this link:
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 2:15PM CST 11/28/12
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