2010-08-10 00:55:50Basic rebuttal for 8: "Scientists predicted an Ice Age in the 70s"
John Russell

jr@johnrussell...
82.70.63.102

Here is my suggested basic answer for No 8: "Did Scientists predict an impending Ice Age in the 70s?"

In the 1970s a few scientists suggested that the Earth might be starting to cool. Perhaps this was partly because the sun, which had been becoming brighter and warmer until the 1960s, had since started to decrease in brightness. Whatever the reason, at the same time as some suggested we might have another ice age, a greater number of scientists published studies which showed that the growing amount of greenhouse gasses that humans were putting into the atmosphere would cause warming much greater than any anticipated 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 'cooling' stories in the press that so many people tend to remember.  The fact that a few scientists proposed theories forty years ago that turned out not to be accurate does not undermine the scientific consensus today.

I don't think this rebuttal needs an illustration.

Once again, I'll be interested in what others think.

Best wishes,

John Russell 

     

2010-08-10 03:48:56A good link to borrow from
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
24.224.230.112
I think it is an interesting basic version but it needs some more beef to it. Some sort of reference to the number of publications of cooling versus warming back then perhaps. A good link to see is this one
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB3S0fnOr0M

Trust me, it's worth watching.
2010-08-10 04:51:09More detail.
John Russell

jr@johnrussell...
82.70.63.102
Agreed. Perhaps a simple table of number of publications -- data based on the graph on the longer version?
2010-08-10 06:14:05
Anne-Marie Blackburn
Anne-Marie Blackburn
bioluminescence@hotmail.co...
80.42.214.210
It's a good version - did you get a 'lay person' to read it? Perhaps a graph would be helpful in illustrating the number of papers suggesting warming vs cooling - the one from Peterson's paper seems clear enough to me. What do you think?
2010-08-10 09:14:17Perhaps a brief reference to earlier work?
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151
Just enough to remind readers that while the cooling thing was a bump, the road even before the '70s was already about warming.
2010-08-10 21:43:04What about pollution research?
gpwayne
Graham Wayne
graham@gpwayne...
81.132.177.33

Hi John,

didn't the cooling/warming debate come about as a result of investigations into air quality, particulates, smogs and so on - this is from Weart's summary:

"In the early 1970s, the rise of environmentalism raised public doubts about the benefits of human activity for the planet. Curiosity about climate turned into anxious concern. Alongside the greenhouse effect, some scientists pointed out that human activity was putting dust and smog particles into the atmosphere, where they could block sunlight and cool the world. Moreover, analysis of Northern Hemisphere weather statistics showed that a cooling trend had begun in the 1940s".

2010-08-10 21:57:02Response to pollution point from Graham
John Russell

jr@johnrussell...
82.70.63.102

Good point, Graham.

I suggest adding the following after the sentence that ends in "...decrease in brightness." 

Some also proposed that the growing air pollution caused by human activities would tend to cool the planet.

It then continues with "Whatever the reason..."

Does that do it for you? I don't think we need to get too far into the reasons why some scientists suggested we might be going into an ice age.

Best wishes,

JR

2010-08-16 16:10:02On the alternative hypotheses
gpwayne
Graham Wayne
graham@gpwayne...
81.152.239.255

that would be a good addition - you might also consider using the stats, (check this, it's from memory) - 8 papers examined potential cooling, while 43 papers in the same period posited warming. Sorry, can't remember where I got that from...

2010-08-17 04:46:00
John Russell

jr@johnrussell...
82.70.63.102

Revised version incorporating comments.

In the 1970s a few scientists suggested that the Earth might be starting to cool. Perhaps this was partly because the sun, which had been becoming brighter and warmer until the 1960s, had since started to decrease in brightness. Some also proposed that the growing air pollution caused by human activities would tend to cool the planet.

Whatever the reason, at the same time as some suggested we might have another ice age, a greater number of scientists published studies which showed that the growing amount of greenhouse gasses that humans were putting into the atmosphere would cause warming much greater than any anticipated 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 'cooling' stories in the press that so many people tend to remember. 

Papers suggesting COOLING   7
Papers warning of WARMING  42
Breakdown of the 49 papers published between 1965 and 1979 that made temperature predictions (extracted from Peterson 2008 -- see intermediate argument for full graph).

The fact that a few scientists proposed theories forty years ago that turned out not to be accurate does not undermine the scientific consensus today.

I'm not keen in putting complex graphs in the basic argument and the grounds that some lay people switch off when confronted by them, and also that the intermediate argument carries the necessary detail.

Are we good for some thumbs up on this one?

Best wishes,

JR 

2010-08-17 05:20:39Comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
24.224.230.22
Hello John,
May I suggest you put those numbers into excel and make a table out of it. Showing the percentage too?
2010-08-17 07:49:42
Anne-Marie Blackburn
Anne-Marie Blackburn
bioluminescence@hotmail.co...
80.42.219.219
Ready to go for me, though Robert's suggestion would improve it I think.
2010-08-17 10:05:11Good to go and no graphs
AdamK

adam.kierce@shinetech...
58.160.115.140

Small points - Don't think it needs graphs, or percentages. Even a layperson can see that 42 is a lot more than 7!

I think you need to hammer home the point that at the same time as the cooling articles came out, far more warming ones came out. So my suggestion is to change that last line to emphasise the positive ( there were scientists already predicting warming ), rather than just the negative. ( some scientists were wrong ) , so suggestion is something like... ( giving thumbs up anyway! )

Even 30 or more years ago there were 6 times as many scientists theorising a warming planet, than predicting a cooling planet. And of course today we have reached clear scientific consensus on a warming planet, with 97% of active climate scientists supporting the reality of Climate Change.

 

2010-08-17 10:42:12Comment on why they predicted cooling
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
121.222.17.49
Have a problem with the sentence "Perhaps this was partly because the sun, which had been becoming brighter and warmer until the 1960s, had since started to decrease in brightness. ". I've never heard this, that a cooling sun was the reason for cooling predictions - so I'm not sure why you'd want to bring that up. I would imagine the main reason that some people predicted more cooling was because there had been a slight cooling trend leading up to that point. That and the increasing pollution as you bring up. So I'd suggest removing this sentence, unless it was a popular line of thought at the time and I just wasn't aware of it.
2010-08-17 13:59:20Little nit
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151
"Whatever the reason" sounds a bit squishy. I'd cut that clause and go straight to "At the same time as some suggested we might have another ice age..."
2010-08-17 17:27:37No graphs please
gpwayne
Graham Wayne
graham@gpwayne...
86.156.59.156
Sorry to disagree with Robert, but in a basic rebuttal, the blue and red lines with 7 and 42 are very graphic and absolutely clear, without looking 'sciencey'. I like it very much the way it is, although I agree with both JC and Doug's later remarks.
2010-08-17 21:08:58New Version gone up on 'rebuttals' list
John Russell

jr@johnrussell...
82.70.63.102

I've tried to take comments on board where they add to the rebuttal but as you all know sometimes they conflict. I'm very much seeing my audience as not too bright and frightened by graphs. Anyone who feels patronised can move on up to the medium rebuttal. 

Best wishes,

JR

2010-08-18 01:09:19Comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
24.224.230.22
If you don't wanna include a graph ( which is understandable) you should make sure to even out the coloured lines. There is more red than blue because its a longer number but looks uneven. Also I would consider removing the empty colored gap.
2010-08-18 03:51:26Go for the acid test
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151
"Perhaps" and "whatever" still bug me a little bit, but there are no serious credibility-robbing problems with this and the gist of the matter is clear.  Such changes as are mandatory will quickly become apparent (true of all of these basic arguments) so why not release it?
2010-08-18 07:58:15Style issues
John Russell

jr@johnrussell...
82.70.63.102

"Perhaps" and "whatever", I guess, are style issues, Doug. I like a chatty spoken-word style -- perhaps because whatever I write tends to be scripts (sorry!).

If anyone wants to have a go at the graph, please do. I'm not too fussed what it looks like as long as it's simpler than that on the intermediate level.

Best wishes,

JR  

2010-08-18 08:52:35
Michael Searcy

scentofpine@yahoo...
72.91.223.97

Well done.  I like the write-up, though I echo the reservations about the "perhaps" and "whatever".  It's worth noting that the media gave more credence and attention to the small number of papers concerned with global cooling as a result of the decrease in temperatures at the time.

With regard to the graph, if you decide to keep the line version, I would recommend removing the coloring of the titles as, at first glance, it gives the impression that a much larger number of papers were published.  Also, you might consider scaling the "bars" around the number to better reflect the disparity between the two.  Alternately, here's another option.

Scientific Study Survey (1965-1979)  

2010-08-18 12:27:29Comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
142.162.181.139
I like the graph michael S posted
2010-08-18 13:52:33Include reasons for cooling predictions
James Wight

jameswight@southernphone.com...
58.105.164.221

I'd take out the part about the Sun - as far as I'm aware it didn't have anything to do with 1970s global cooling predictions.

From Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming, I remember three reasons for the cooling predictions: the study of the glacial-interglacial cycle, the study of the effects of anthropogenic aerosols, and the observed cooling trend. So you might want to add something like the following (you can simplify as necessary):

"In the early 1970s, some climatologists thought the current interglacial period was drawing to a close and the Earth might even plunge into the next glacial period in the next few centuries. Three decades later, an improved understanding of the Earth's orbital cycles predicts a gradual cooling over the next few millennia, with the next glacial period beginning tens of millennia from now.

Another reason for projections of cooling was the aerosols (or "smog") that humans were emitting into the troposphere. However, in the last four decades this kind of pollution has slowed and greenhouse gas emissions have emerged as the dominant influence on climate.

A third reason was that a cooling trend had been observed from the 1940s to the 1970s. As records have grown to cover more of the globe, it's become apparent that this trend was most pronounced in northern land areas, and that global temperatures were relatively flat over that period."

I know you don't want to make the rebuttal too complicated, but I think it would a good idea to include at least some of the above, just to show that not only were the cooling predictions wrong, we know why they were wrong.

2010-08-18 23:02:29Additional reasons and chart.
John Russell

jr@johnrussell...
82.70.63.102

I like your reasoning James -- well written too! I'll incorporate your points.

And I like Michael's graph! I think, though, it would be better with 'cooling predicted' and 'warming predicted' -- just to make it really clear.  Not sure it needs the key in the box as it duplicates the info and makes the chart appear more complex than it really is. Any chance you can modify it, Michael?  Then I'll post the whole revised piece on the rebuttals list.

Best wishes,

JR  

2010-08-19 00:29:12New Graph
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
24.224.230.22
John,
I did up the graph in question.

You can find it at http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/GlobalCooling.JPG

or below



Let me know what you think?
2010-08-19 01:12:46Pie Chart
John Russell

jr@johnrussell...
82.70.63.102

Robert; I liked it so much that I've posted it in the rebuttal list!

James; I like what you wrote so much  that I went backwardas and forwards for an hour chopping and changing to try and fit it in. In the end I found that it was tending to distract from the main thrust about the number of cooling vs warming papers, However I ended up with a compromise that got rid of the 'whatever' and 'perhaps' words that seem to be so disliked. 

I'm very pleased with the result and I would like to canvas for some green thumbs now. JC?  

Thanks to all who've added input.

Best wishes,

JR

2010-08-19 01:20:07done
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
24.224.230.22
Hey John, It was a good job. Was just waiting on the graph.
Enjoy your thumbs up haha
2010-08-19 12:18:11The changes are an improvement
James Wight

jameswight@southernphone.com...
58.105.164.221
I'm still not entirely happy with it, but I know we can't fit everything into the basic versions, so I've given it the thumbs up.
2010-08-19 13:58:51Published
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
121.222.17.49
Gone live with this, great work from John and great collaboration from everyone - love the way the discussion evolved and the graph got added to the rebuttal.
2010-08-19 14:50:47Simplified language a bit
kdkd
Kieren Diment
diment@gmail...
124.170.95.40
I'm coming out of copy-edit mode for a journal article I'm preparing for
publication.  I read this, and thought the language could be simplified a
bit further.  Here are my minor edits.  Please use or discard as you see
fit:


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 draw to a rapid end.  This might result in the Earth plunging into a new ice age over the next few centuries. This idea might have been reinforced by the knowledge that the smog that climatologists call 'aerosols' - emitted into the atmosphere by human activities - also caused cooling. In fact, as temperature recording has improved in  coverage, it's become apparent that the cooling trend was greater in northern land areas and that global temperature trends were  relatively steady during the period prior to 1970.

At the same time as some scientists were suggesting we might 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.  This warming would lead to a much greater influence on global temperature than any possible natural or human-caused cooling effects.

By 1980 the predictions about ice ages had stopped.  This was due to the overwhelming evidence contained in an increasing number of reports that warned of global warming. Unfortunately, the press were more interested in the small number of predictions of an ice age.  Many people tend to remember this rather than the larger number of scientific reports warning of warming.
2010-08-19 20:06:06Typo-alert - One "might" too much
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
109.84.219.58

Sorry to be "re-surrecting" an already published post, but I just noticed - while reading the printed out version - that there is one "might" too much in this sentence in the 2nd paragraph:

"At the same time as some scientists were suggesting we might might be facing another..." 

Where should we highlight these types of things? Like I just did with the original thread for the rebuttal or would it be better to have a new thread for things like "Typo-alerts"?