I keep coming back to this topic. There is a Facebook feed titled The Comical Conservative. Check it out. Facebook friends from time to time alert me by reposting stuff from The Comical Conservative, and I tend to agree they are comical. Here’s the most recent:
This is a cartoon depicting conflicting statements by scientists regarding global warming, otherwise known as anthropogenic global warming (AGW). I am unable to decipher the artist’s signature, but the cartoon traces back to Cagle.com, and the artist appears to be Rick McKee. To enable search engines to find the content, I’m providing a transcription as follows:
Actual Climate Change Pronouncements by Scientists
- 1970 We’ll be in an ice age by 2000!
- 1976 Global cooling will cause a world war by 2000!
- 1989 Global warming and rising sea levels will wipe entire nations off the map by 2000!
- 1990 We have five to en years to save the rainforests!
- 1999 The Himalayan glaciers will be gone in ten years!
- 2000 Snow will soon be a thing of the past!
- 2007 Global warming will cause fewer hurricanes!
- 2008 The arctic will be ice-free by 2013!
- 2012 Global warming will cause more hurricanes!
- 2014 The science is settled!
These certainly are wildly inaccurate and even contradictory statements, and taken together they demonstrate the science behind AGW is a hoax.
Not quite. Anybody who has engaged in the rough and tumble of real science will already know that it’s not what people say that counts, but what they can demonstrate. Bluntly, science deals with the real world. My blog is titled Skeptical Analysis, and this appears to be a place for some. A good place to start would be to examine each of the above:
1970 We’ll be in an ice age by 2000!
I’m trying to track down the source of this. The problem is, the cartoonist, and by extension The Comical Conservative, fails to cite sources. This is a problem consistent with condensing complex topics into a ten-part cartoon, and the artist is to be forgiven. Not so much those employing the cartoon. It’s unfortunate none of the publications I have found carrying this art have seen fit to provide references. More on that later.
While the statement cannot be attributed to a single source, there was talk during the 1970s about global cooling. This was earnest talk, based on known history of the Earth. Geological evidence is that within the past few million years this planet has undergone cycles of glaciation lasting in the order of 100,000 years, interspersed by periods of thaw lasting in the order of tens of thousands of years. We emerged from the most recent ice age about 11,000 years ago, so the civilized world can expect to confront another period of glaciation in the next few thousand years. This is serious business. The most recent ice age produced ice kilometers thick on the North American Continent. Paradoxically, AGW could forestall the next ice age.
The Skeptical Science blog has a nice summary of what was said related to this question:
In the thirty years leading up to the 1970s, available temperature recordings suggested that there was a cooling trend. As a result some scientists suggested that the current inter-glacial period could rapidly draw to a close, which might result in the Earth plunging into a new ice age over the next few centuries. This idea could have been reinforced by the knowledge that the smog that climatologists call ‘aerosols’ – emitted by human activities into the atmosphere – also caused cooling. In fact, as temperature recording has improved in coverage, it’s become apparent that the cooling trend was most pronounced in northern land areas and that global temperature trends were in fact relatively steady during the period prior to 1970.
At the same time as some scientists were suggesting we might be facing another ice age, a greater number published contradicting studies. Their papers showed that the growing amount of greenhouse gasses that humans were putting into the atmosphere would cause much greater warming – warming that would exert a much greater influence on global temperature than any possible natural or human-caused cooling effects.
By 1980 the predictions about ice ages had ceased, due to the overwhelming evidence contained in an increasing number of reports that warned of global warming. Unfortunately, the small number of predictions of an ice age appeared to be much more interesting than those of global warming, so it was those sensational ‘Ice Age‘ stories in the press that so many people tend to remember.
The fact is that around 1970 there were 6 times as many scientists predicting a warming rather than a cooling planet. Today, with 30+years more data to analyse, we’ve reached a clear scientific consensus: 97% of working climate scientists agree with the view that human beings are causing global warming.
Basic rebuttal written by John Russell
1976 Global cooling will cause a world war by 2000!
This one was not so easy to track down. No searches matched the above quote. I did get to this, however:
To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling 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.”
This is a story from Newsweek appearing 28 April 1975, reprinted on denisdutton.com, and appears to be typical of such claims. The story cites a National Science Foundation report, and there is a prediction of dire consequences of global cooling. However, nowhere is the year 2000 mentioned.
1989 Global warming and rising sea levels will wipe entire nations off the map by 2000!
I only did a brief search, but I came up with this:
It was hardly the first time UN bureaucrats had made such dire predictions, only to be proven wrong. On June 30, 1989, the Associated Press ran an article headlined: “UN Official Predicts Disaster, Says Greenhouse Effect Could Wipe Some Nations Off Map.” In the piece, the director of the UNEP’s New York office was quoted as claiming that “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000.” He also predicted “coastal flooding and crop failures” that “would create an exodus of ‘eco-refugees,’ threatening political chaos.”
This is from a site promoting skepticism of AGW, but I will make the assumption the quote is genuine. Given that the quote is genuine, it is at variance with “wipe entire nations off the map by 2000.” What it does say is “if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000.” Ultimately, nothing exactly, or even closely, matched the text in the cartoon. Anybody who can locate the source of this quote is invited to forward me a note. I will do an update.
1990 We have five to ten years to save the rainforests!
Again, my search did not turn up anything that matches the text. What this has to do with AGW is anybody’s guess. Comments, suggestions, all are welcome.
1999 The Himalayan glaciers will be gone in ten years!
Again, no matches. But this one could still have some juice. Here is a near match:
The UN’s climate science body has admitted that a claim made in its 2007 report – that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035 – was unfounded.
The admission today followed a New Scientist article last week that revealed the source of the claim made in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was not peer-reviewed scientific literature – but a media interview with a scientist conducted in 1999. Several senior scientists have now said the claim was unrealistic and that the large Himalayan glaciers could not melt in a few decades.
In a statement (pdf), the IPCC said the paragraph “refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly.”
Yes, once again science has screwed it up. All right, maybe not science, but reporting on science has screwed it up. There is a little more meat on this one:
On page 2, the WWF report cited an article in the 5 June 1999 issue of New Scientist which quoted Syed Hasnain, Chairman of the International Commission for Snow and Ice (ICSI), saying that most of the glaciers in the Himalayan region “will vanish within 40 years as a result of global warming”. That article was based on an email interview, and says that “Hasnain’s four-year study indicates that all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could disappear by 2035 at their present rate of decline.” Both the article and the WWF report referred to Hasnain’s unpublished 1999 ICSI study, Report on Himalayan Glaciology, which does not estimate a date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers.
The second sentence of the questionable WGII paragraph which states “Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035″ could not refer to the Himalayan glaciers, which cover about 33,000 km2. Cogley said that a bibliographic search indicated that it had been copied inaccurately from a 1996 International Hydrological Programme (IHP) report by Kotlyakov, published by UNESCO, which gave a rough estimate of shrinkage of the world’s total area of glaciers and ice caps by 2350 [sic].
But no cigar. Nothing mentions “ten years.”
2000 Snow will soon be a thing of the past!
Well, not exactly. Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia made comments similar to that:
However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.
“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.
Without a doubt, David Viner is stepping out of peer-reviewed science in making a statement like that. To be sure, if the globe warms a few degrees, some places that have snow will have less snow, and it may disappear from places that seldom have it. Predictions that snow will disappear from the face of the Earth may be unfounded, were they ever to be made.
And that demonstrates conclusively that AGW is a gigantic scientific hoax. Actually not, but we can go on to the next point.
2007 Global warming will cause fewer hurricanes!
This one is going to be closely linked to number nine below. There is scientific disagreement on this, as illustrated by the following, again from Skeptical Science:
The current research into the effects of climate change on tropical storms demonstrates not only the virtues and transparency of the scientific method at work, but rebuts the frequent suggestion that scientists fit their findings to a pre-determined agenda in support of climate change. In the case of storm frequency, there is no consensus and reputable scientists have two diametrically opposed theories about increasing frequencies of such events.
The background to these enquiries stems from a simple observation: extra heat in the air or the oceans is a form of energy, and storms are driven by such energy. What we do not know is whether we might see more storms as a result of extra energy or, as other researchers believe, the storms may grow more intense, but the number might actually diminish.
What do the records show? According to the Pew Centre, “Globally, there is an average of about 90 tropical storms a year”. The IPCC AR4 report (2007) says regarding global tropical storms: “There is no clear trend in the annual numbers [i.e. frequency] of tropical cyclones.”
But this graph, also from the Pew Centre, shows a 40% increase in North Atlantic tropical storms over the historic maximum of the mid-1950, which at the time was considered extreme:
But while the numbers are not contested, their significance most certainly is. Another study considered how this information was being collected, and research suggested that the increase in reported storms was due to improved monitoring rather than more storms actually taking place.
And to cap it off, two recent peer-reviewed studies completely contradict each other. One paper predicts considerably more storms due to global warming. Another paper suggests the exact opposite – that there will be fewer storms in the future.
2008 The arctic will be ice-free by 2013!
Yes, this is a real quote from a real scientist. No, it’s not. It’s a real quote from a real politician:
“It is already upon us and its effects are being felt worldwide, right now,” he [John Kerry] wrote. “Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013. Not in 2050, but four years from now. Make no mistake: catastrophic climate change represents a threat to human security, global stability, and — yes — even to American national security.”
Wait a moment. Let me take another look at the title of this cartoon:
Actual Climate Change Pronouncements by Scientists
Readers, there is a reason it’s called The Comical Conservative.
2012 Global warming will cause more hurricanes!
See number seven above.
2014 The science is settled!
I’m not bothering to look this one up. “Settled” is an apt term applied to the current scientific consensus, and I have reviewed this previously:
John Blanton “Settled science” is a term that gets thrown around, but in the final analysis it’s not what counts. What counts is what can be demonstrated. Right now what is being demonstrated is the case for AGW. I have some facts plus a bit of comedy for your reading enjoyment. Comments are welcome. I have more facts.
That’s a lot said, and there is no way to compress it into a ten-part cartoon. It’s the way of real life. Snippets of propaganda are not the way dig at meaningful issues.
There is a reason the argument against AGW science is condensed into a ten-part cartoon, and that reason is there is no real evidence to support the artist’s position. Besides, this is from an artist and not a writer, but that’s another matter. If there were some meaningful facts to support Rick McKee’s position, assuming this is his position, then laying out the facts would be the way to make the argument. If a reader were interested in learning the facts, then the place to get the facts would be some well-researched literature on the subject, and not a collection of fact-devoid comments. In researching this topic I came across a number of sources employing the Rick McKee cartoon. It’s worth taking a look at one of them:
Cartoon Brilliantly Illustrates Why “Climate Change” is a Scam
Via the Heartland Institute:
“It is the greatest deception in history and the extent of the damage has yet to be exposed and measured,” says Dr. Tim Ball in his new book, “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science”.
Dr. Ball has been a climatologist for more than forty years and was one of the earliest critics of the global warming hoax that was initiated by the United Nations environmental program that was established in 1972 and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established in 1988.
And that’s it. This is what passes for proof in some circles. Note the link to the Heartland Institute. We have been down that well before:
I have been following the topic of AGW for over 20 years, and a recurrent observation is that people opposed to the science rely on quotes and opinions, some from real scientists, and not so much on the basic science. What any opponent to the science needs to do to refute AGW is to disprove one or more of the following:
- Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not absorb infra red radiation.
- Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are not increasing dramatically.
- Increases in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are not due to human activities.
- There are natural sources to the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that supersede the human contribution.
I have put this out before, and nobody has come back at me on it. Keep reading.