The media regularly bombards us with news about extreme weather events from around the world: floods in Pakistan and Australia, deadly heat waves in Russia, snow storms so big they’re affectionately being called Snowzilla, etc.. The media and pseudo-experts are quick to attribute these events to global warming climate change.
While these disasters are certainly tragedies, the interpretations are quite amusing. Why? Because back in the 1970s, these same types of events were being called signs of a new ice age! (insert sarcastic laughter here)
But it’s no joke. Check it out, from Time magazine circa June 24, 1974:
In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims. During 1972 record rains in parts of the U.S., Pakistan and Japan caused some of the worst flooding in centuries. In Canada’s wheat belt, a particularly chilly and rainy spring has delayed planting and may well bring a disappointingly small harvest. Rainy Britain, on the other hand, has suffered from uncharacteristic dry spells the past few springs. A series of unusually cold winters has gripped the American Far West, while New England and northern Europe have recently experienced the mildest winters within anyone’s recollection.
As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age. (Source)
Using the data available at the time, scientists had observed a general cooling of worldwide temperatures for about three decades, from about 1945 to the mid-1970s. Anyone who lived through the 1970s in Canada remembers the bitter cold and ridiculous amount of snow. “Scientists” hastily jumped to the conclusion that another ice age was imminent. From that point onward, any unusual weather event was interpreted as a confirmation of the “global climatic upheaval” that pointed to the coming of another ice age.
Fast-forward about 30 years. In recent times, we’ve witnessed the opposite. Scientists observed about three decades of warming from the 1970s to the turn of the century, prompting so the so-called experts to say we’re going to fry under the weight of our environmental sins. Every flood and hurricane was interpreted from this angle. So the pendulum swung the other way.
But that wasn’t the final word. History is so full of ironic lessons. Global temperatures have stopped warming in the last decade or so, and this year’s winter has proven quite brutal in many parts of the world. Harvests have been poor resulting in rising food prices (no, it’s not overpopulation). Not surprisingly, some scientists are coming out and claiming that we’re heading for… another ice age! (see examples here and here).
What does it all mean? As much as we like to think of humanity as a rational species, we are also very emotional creatures. We’re prone to all manner of hysteria and fads. Most of all, we’re prone to mistakes. Legitimately well-intentioned people make mistakes all the time. Other not-so-well-intentioned people seize on situations to push an agenda. The bottom line is you need to keep a level head and not go off any deep end.
Don’t be too quick to jump on any bandwagon. We’ve gone from ice age, to global warming and back to ice age in the span of 40 years. That tells you all you need to know about the climate doom-sayers.