Green Watch

In 1895, Climate Alarmists Warned About Global ‘Freezing.’ They Haven’t Stopped Scaring People Since


Crossposted from ClimateDollars — This article is dated May 10, 2017

Over the past two weekends in Washington, D.C., the so-called March for Science and the People’s Climate March—both rooted largely in panic over “climate change”—served as reminders that, while the climate changes, human nature never really does.

In the 17th century, witches in Europe were burned for their alleged role in the (natural) climate change that caused crop failures. Today, it’s skeptics like me who are threatening the climate. We are likened to Nazi sympathizers and smeared as “deniers” in the manner of Holocaust deniers.

Yesterday and today, environmental hysterics see apocalypse on every horizon—be it fiery or frigid.

As far back as the 1800s, “experts” have howled about the ecological calamity that was just around the corner. An 1895 New York Times article entitled, “Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again” envisioned an Earth encased in “perennial frost and snow.”

In 1932, the Times warned: “NEXT GREAT DELUGE FORECAST BY SCIENCE / Melting Polar Ice Caps to Raise the Level of Seas and Flood the Continent.” The following year, leaders in Syria blamed Western influences for climate change, so they banned the yoyo. Really.

Then it was back to global cooling. Betty Friedan, the future feminist icon, wrote a 1958 Harper’s article, “The Coming Ice Age,” subtitled, “How a rising of the ocean waters may flood most of our port cities within the foreseeable future—and why it will be followed by the growth of a vast glacier which may eventually cover much of Europe and North America.”

Then warming. In 1969, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the respected academic and future U.S. Senator, warned the Nixon White House that rising carbon dioxide levels could increase the average temperature, and that “This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter.” This would happen by the year 2000.

Then cooling: “Scientist predicts a new ice age by 21st century,” said the Boston Globe (1970). “Ice Age, worse food crisis seen,” declared the Chicago Tribune (1974). “Pollution Could Spur Ice Age, NASA Says,” reported the Beaver Country Times (1974). “Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age,” asserted the Milwaukee Journal (1975).

Time magazine in 1974:

“Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age. Telltale signs are everywhere—from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest.”

These ever-vigilant, ever-credulous sentinels are nothing if not dogged in their attempts to stave off the end of the world. One thing, however, is constant: the need for dramatic action to address climate change, from the burning of witches in the 17th century to the entry-into-force Paris Climate Treaty last November.

The witch-burning brigades are also keen to denounce anyone who is skeptical of their claims. I recently published a study (available at ClimateDollars.org) of one widely cited study by sociologist Robert Brulle in which he essentially labeled Global Warming skeptics a giant conspiracy to mislead the public.

The biggest problem with alarmist claims, however, isn’t the repeated falsehoods and false prophecies. No, the greatest damage is the way “addressing climate change” has become the latest euphemism for denying billions of people access to affordable energy—with victims ranging from working-class Americans to the world’s poorest in sub-Saharan Africa. And while the vulnerable suffer, wealth and power is transferred to the likes of biofuel processors and the bureaucrats of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Union.

Real people pay a real price when policies are based on ignorance of history and a half-understanding of science, on irrational fear and sensationalism, and on the latest kookery from the media and political class that stands to benefit when people freak out.

As Robert Frost wrote, “Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.” For the panic-mongers, either scenario will do—as long as the public is terrorized.

This article originally appeared in the Independent Journal Review on May 10, 2017

Dr. Steven J. Allen

Dr. Allen heads CRC’s investigative unit, writes a series exposing political deception, and covers labor unions and environmental groups. He previously served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton, as editor…
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  • Rexxon

    Citing a newspaper article from 1932 which is in line with current data, modeling, and field observations doesn’t exactly boost the denier position, does it?

  • Jeffrey Levine, Ph.D.

    Dr. Allen, You seem to be unaware of how scientific method works. If you’re going to write about scientific issues, I’d recommend working on this.

    I’m going to guess from the content of your web site that you favor free market economics. So think of science as a “free marketplace of ideas”, with millions of participants from all over the world, trying their best, day in and day out, to contribute toward gaining a better understanding of the physical universe. It’s intensely competitive. (And I’m sure you favor competition, right?) Data and ideas that correspond well with reality, and are coherent with other scientific conclusions, are the ones that succeed. The losers fail (and there’s no such thing as “too big to fail” in science.)

    The most successful ideas eventually lead to consensus. A consensus is built upon the interwoven strands of millions of measurements, published documents, databases etc. Science has been successful since the Enlightenment because it works. (I sometimes think that some science-bashers pine away for the Dark Ages.) Your citation of anecdotal references from the the popular media is highly inappropriate. This is NOT how scientific consensus is achieved. Surely you are aware there are peer-reviewed technical publications.

    Oh, and I, too, took the trouble to check your sources for the the Daniel Patrick Moynihan anecdote, but Bill Butler has already correctly called you out on that. Why not try to understand what science is saying rather than (apparently) looking for ways to misrepresent it. (Moynihan, by the way, showed a keen sense of social responsibility, proposing to investigate what could POTENTIALLY be a significant problem in the future. Nothing wrong with that.)