Tuesday, September 24, 2019

50 years of failed climate doomsday warnings

I strongly recommend reading Mark Perry's recent blog post which documents how climate alarmists have repeatedly and disastrously failed to predict future eco-apocalypses. He provides links to 50 failed predictions of gloom going back as far as 1967. Here are just a few examples:

1970: Ice Age By 2000
1976: Scientific Consensus Planet Cooling, Famines imminent
1988: Maldive Islands will Be Underwater by 2018 (they’re not)
2004: Britain will Be Siberia by 2024
1966: Oil Gone in Ten Years
1977: Department of Energy Says Oil will Peak in 1990s
1988: World’s Leading Climate Expert Predicts Lower Manhattan Underwater by 2018
2005: Fifty Million Climate Refugees by the Year 2020
1989: Rising Sea Levels will Obliterate Nations if Nothing Done by 2000

When it comes to climate, beware of those who say it's "settled science." If your predictions end up consistently wide of their mark, you are not dealing with science. More likely, you're part of a cult.

UPDATE (10/9/19): A group of scientists and professionals in climate and related fields sent a letter to the United Nations on Sept. 23 declaring that “there is no climate emergency." Here is the letter. The full list of signatories is scheduled to be released October 18th. 

Upshot: There is no scientific consensus on the subject of man-made global warming, nor is the science settled. 


Houston Advisor said...

Great thing about the interweb is the permanent record of what people thought at a moment in time. History will judge whether you were right or wrong. While you stake out your claim, I have to worry about recovering from the 4th 500-year climate event in the last 6 years here in Houston. Good luck.

WealthMony said...

It's different this time!

misterkrusty said...

But just how many people were actually making these predictions? Was it a fringe group, or anywhere near a consensus? And for how long did the adherents really stick with the theory?

Wish I had time today to go through all those predictions but I don't. The only ones I've ever heard about before are the first 2 (i.e. global cooling). There was never a scientific consensus that our planet was going to cool down. Not even close.

We've known that burning fossil fuels causes warming for over a century. In the 1960s/70s, we realized that sulfate aerosols (industrial chemicals that were in hair spray, etc. til they got banned) have a cooling effect. So scientists wondered about which effect would predominate.

Per this survey: https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2008BAMS2370.1 only 10% of scientists said cooling would predominate, 62% said warming would, and the rest were undecided.

But some journalists heard about the cooling theory and ran sensational articles about the "coming Ice Age." The public ate it up, and many more articles followed. And so today many Americans say "they we're telling us an Ice Age was coming, so why should we believe them now?"

On a side note, it's great to discuss about the data as we did in Scott's last climate post. But sometimes it helps to just look at the world around you. For example:

-- massive loss of ice on Antarctica and Greenland
-- Arctic Sea now traversable year-round
-- Great Barrier Reef is dying
-- go to Glacier Nat'l Park (it's beautiful!) and ask the rangers how much bigger the glaciers used to be.

I'm guessing most readers of this blog are free-markets people. Me too. I wish such folks would start thinking about how best to address this problem (i.e. using market forces wherever practicable). But if liberals are the only ones working on solutions, I fear that our govt's response will be decided by the likes of Sanders and Warren.

bob wright said...

Climate Scientists Write To UN: There Is No Climate Emergenc

"A group of 500 esteemed scientists and professionals in climate science have officially notified the United Nations that there is no climate crisis and that spending trillions on a non-problem is ‘cruel and imprudent’."


Iris said...

Bob, there is no list of 500 climate scientists attached to thus article. Just a few signatories who include peers of the realm (but not a climate scientist) such as "The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley".
I trust Scott to bring us accurate information on truck tonnage.
Why do you not trust ACTUAL climate scientists to bring you accurate information?

Benjamin Cole said...

"Climate change

We believe that climate change risks warrant action and it’s going to take all of us — business, governments and consumers — to make meaningful progress."---ExxonMobil

Well, that's what they say at ExxonMobil.

It is unfortunate that this topic, like so many other topics, seems to become politicized rather than thought about rationally. I mean that from both the left-wing and right-wing perspectives.

Ian said...

What if you applied the same standards to economics? Economists have made some terrible predictions over the years, so clearly the whole field must be a cult!

The world is complex, and you can't know exactly what will happen, just as you can't predict exactly where the stock market will go or what GDP will be. But you can understand what's happening in broad outline. Global temperatures are rising, ice is melting, sea levels are rising, and it's reasonable to believe that these phenomena will prove harmful and possibly disastrous for humans and the other living things of this planet.

Patrice POYET said...

Eugène Trutat, in 1876 was observing the daunting and frightening melting of the glacier in the pyrenean mountains long before the industrial age started ! https://journals.openedition.org/soe/639

Trutat E., « Les glaciers des Pyrénées, Station de la Dent de la Maladeta », Annuaire du Club Alpin Français, 1876, p. 480-486.

31487 scientists in the US disagree with "settled science"

H20 has the same spectral absorption properties as CO2. But H20 (vapor) goes up to more than 4,5% of the atmosphere whereas CO2 has increased over more than a century of just 0,01% (from 0,03% to 0,04%).

The elephant in the room is the SUN and its activity as a slightly variable star.

Then the classical Milankovitch parameters do affect the climate:

The Anthropic Global Warming Cult is non-sense.


Patrice POYET

steve said...

I think the most aspect that is little discussed is what are the chances that any "green plan" will actually have any meaningful impact on GLOBAL temps given that is is GLOBAL warming NOT US warming!

Answer; damn little if at all and we're supposed to divert trillions of $ to a "crisis" AND make our lives significantly less convenient just to have the left feel good about themselves.

The good news is people vote their pocketbook and don't give a S*^T about climate change (except dems of course) so if the left nominates a crazy (they will) she'll lose in a general election-please God.

richard burcik said...

Subject: Climate Change
Recently, on June 28, 2019, a scholarly journal that is maintained by the top-ranked journal Nature published a scientific research paper, titled "Intensified East Asian Winter Monsoon During the Last Geomagnetic Reversal Transition" by a group of Japanese scientists which found according to its lead investigator that "The umbrella effect caused by galactic cosmic rays is important when thinking about current global warming, as well as, the warm period of the medieval era."  When the journal Nature is willing to print such a contradictory piece of research it is clear that the science is in a state of flux. This remarkable finding confirmed the result found by Profs. Kauppinen & Malmi, both from Finland, in a paper titled "No Experimental Evidence For Significant Anthropogenic Climate Change" (June 29, 2019) that "... the (IPCC) models fail to derive the influence of low cloud cover fraction on global temperature. A too-small natural component results in a too-large portion for the contribution of greenhouse gases like CO2. The IPCC represents the climate sensitivity more than one order of magnitude larger than our sensitivity 0.24 degrees C. Because the anthropogenic portion in the increased CO2 is less than 10%, we have practically no anthropogenic climate change. The low clouds control mainly the global temperature." The South China Morning Post on Aug. 11, 2019, next reported that "A new study has found winters in Northern China have been warming since 4000 BC -- regardless of human activity -- ". This research was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres and concluded that human activity "... appears to have little to due with increased greenhouse gases." The "driving forces include the Sun, the atmosphere, and its interaction with the ocean" but "We have detected no evidence of human influence." This study's findings confirm an earlier study that was published in Scientific Reports in 2014. Most importantly, the lead investigator for the Kobe University research paper insisted that "... she is now more worried about cooling than warming."

misterkrusty said...

Patrice POYET-

One melting glacier in the Pyrénées in the 1870s proves little except that the Earth's climate varies. Today we have simultaneous large-scale melting all over the globe.

That OISM petition (with the 31k signatures) is an often-cited piece of garbage. Science skeptics frequently cite non-experts from unrelated fields. Per the link you cited, only 151 out of 31,000+ signers have PhDs in either Atmospheric Science or Climatology. That's less than 1% of 1%. Gimme a break!

I don't like the Kyoto agreement either, as it puts no burden on some of the biggest contributors to CO2 emissions (e.g. China, India). But that's no reason to dismiss the threat. We just need a better plan.

Fred said...

Saw a opossum running down the middle of Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta today at lunchtime. I am no longer a climate change denier.

Bryon said...

No amount of green policies will prevent the Sun from expanding and incinerating the Earth, assuming the scientists are correct in their prediction that the sun will become red giant in 4 billion years.

Stowbrod said...

This thread is actually the climate crisis. The dilemma is that the intelligent readers of an economic blog, who nevertheless are woefully clueless in understanding perhaps the most complex of physical systems, are forced to postulate the future direction of the climate. We have no recourse because climate scientists are not to be trusted. Spend some time reading about climate gate and you'll see how a pure science can be corrupted, where climate agnostics are denied the ability to publish, to obtain tenured positions or hired at all and more recently how the courts and defamation claims have been used to silence septics. The fact that a bunch of experts in everything but climate science are obligated to do the work of real scientists is the tragedy.

cbt141 said...

Since 2000, China and India have increased CO2 emissions by 200% and 150% respectively, while over the same interval the USA has decreased emissions by 10% and Europe has decreased emissions by 15%.
Projections out to 2050 anticipate moderate increases in carbon consumption by the West and large increases in Asia.

The free market democracies in the West have make greater progress on addressing concerns over CO2 than the the less free economies and nations of Asia.

If a warming climate is a problem, then free markets and individual initiative will be a better source for solutions and adaptations (for example fracking, nuclear) than alternative bureaucratic and crony orientated methods (for example renewables, ethanol, rail)

The Cliff Claven of Finance said...

It's become more obvious today, although it was always true, that climate change is "green socialism" in disguise -- promoting a more powerful central government to "fight" a non-existent "crisis".

The Green New Deal ("green ordeal") made that very obvious.

Very few climate change alarmists support free market capitalism.

The "coming climate change crisis" consists of repeated wrong predictions of a coming crisis, that we have been hearing
since the 1970s. The imaginary "crisis" never arrives !

It's so easy to make a list of failed predictions, that even I can do it (with a 100% failure rate, one can pick any predictions for your list).

The current climate is the best for humans and animals in at least 500 years -- the last half of the 1600's was cold -- we're probably about +2 degrees C. warmer now..

I published a different list of failed environmental crisis predictions today that might interest some readers here:


misterkrusty said...

"Climategate" is nonsense. This is classic quote-mining. Somebody hacked into scientists' emails, then "mined" thousands of messages for one or two quotes that sound bad if you take them out of context.


I suggest getting new sources for your info, or at least fact-checking the claims of whatever you're reading now.

misterkrusty said...

Profs. Kauppinen & Malmi's paper wasn't even peer-reviewed, much less published in a journal.

Cue the conspiracy theories about academics being silenced!

misterkrusty said...

I agree with you on everything, except your claim that renewables and rail are "crony orientated methods" They are not.

misterkrusty said...

Cliff Claven-
Please read my first comment on this thread. There are tens (hundreds?) of thousands of scientists looking at climate change. If one guy makes a bad/dumb prediction, it means little for the credibility of the group.

Lots of capitalists are concerned about climate change.

cbt141 said...


Renewables are dependent on mandated governmental quotas requiring utility companies to provide a mix of energy sources.
Can anyone name a single high speed rail project that is the result of private investors acting without government subsidy?
Since both of these programs are political creatures which could not exist in a free market environment I can only assume that somewhere somehow a special interest has prevailed through the political process in acquiring life giving support. Describing this situation as “crony orientated methods” is a fair call.
In furtherance of fair play I would have no problem annulling any and all subsidies on fossil fuels. Let the best plan win!

randy said...

cb141 -

Subsidies for renewables and oil and gas are often described as having equivalence. But there are big differences. Renewables have federal and state mandates, historically massive tax credits for investments (phasing out if I remember correctly), and direct federal grants and other funding.

Oil and Gas? Allowing MLPs to pass through income which is then taxed by the partner, like any partnership. Perhaps accelerated depreciation or write off of drilling costs - but every company expenses hard costs, just a matter of timing. Some other minor tax quirks. A subsidy I agree sucks is low/no royalties on public lands. Other good arguments might be external costs of pollution. But comparing renewable and oil and gas subsidies is a bit of a stretch I think.


cbt141 said...


Please reread my post.
I made no comparison.

cbt141 said...

“But I can point out that Malthusian environmentalists have been consistently and spectacularly wrong going on five decades and that even in a warming planet, nearly every quantifiable measure of human existence is improving. The retreat of socialism — exactly the kind of system environmentalists would like to bring back to fight global warming — has led to extraordinary gains in the most important aspects of human existence over the past 30-40 years.”


misterkrusty said...

Sorry if I sounded like a jerk earlier. I appreciate all your comments. I like smart people.

High speed rail isn't something I know about. But I do think subsidies for renewables can make sense.

I make my living as an investor in the public markets, so no surprise that I agree it's stupid to use gov't to solve most problems. But it's also not true that subsidies can never, ever, ever accomplish anything positive. Japan, Germany, Spain et al subsidized renewables to kick start the learning curve on solar technology and efficiency has improved by leaps and bounds, to the point where unsubsidized solar is now the cheapest power on the grid in many parts of the US. And it's still improving at a rapid pace.

Obviously, renewables aren't great for base-load power, so thanks for mentioning nuclear: it's our best shot at carbon-free base-load power. Hydro is nice but not available everywhere. Nuclear is vastly more safe than many realize, and each generation of reactors is much safer than the last.

Re: the federalist article, I don't think we need socialism to fight warming. Carbon emissions are an externality, and a carbon tax would use market forces to address that. Or maybe there's a better market-oriented solution. My mind is open. I'm not prescribing any particular solution, but rather just trying to shift the conversation from "is it a problem?" to "what should we do about it?"

No doubt human existence has been improving. But the worst effects of warming are likely yet to come as temperatures continue to rise, so I'm not sure this observation discredits anyone's argument.

Several folks here have mentioned predictions that turned out to be wrong. I'm saying you gotta consider just how many folks were actually making those predictions - e.g. only ~10% of climate scientists were truly predicting global cooling back in the '70s.

Moreover, major predictions of the scientific consensus are being observed right now. Temps are indeed rising overall, ice is melting, and severe weather is becoming more frequent, since more energy is being trapped in the system: https://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/munichre.jpg

cbt141 said...



Subsidized projects do not always result in misallocated resources anymore than private capital is always profitably invested. However, market driven investments self-monitor their appropriateness and longevity through accumulating profits and losses. Subsidized projects tend to perpetuate themselves due to vested interests using other people’s money to pursue ongoing failures.

I believe that market prices and voluntary exchanges will be the more effective means for allocating assets in response to both present and future conditions for climate and a range of other problems.

With the carbon tax, we fall into the China and India problem. China and India are not likely to participate in a carbon tax any more than they will participate in any program that loads costs onto their effort to modernize their economies and pull their citizens out of poverty. Collecting an unpopular tax from a country armed with nuclear weapons is a non starter.

As to our ability to predict that in 80 years the climate will have warmed by 1.5C, about the only thing I’m absolutely sure of is that in 80 years the planet’s temperature will not be 1.5C higher. This prediction is a very silly attempt at precision in a field that does not allow for precise answers. I don’t know what the temperature might be, but it won’t be 1.5C higher.

The world has just come through a hundred years of world wars, epidemics, a nuclear arms race, a population explosion, Hitler, Stalin, Mao and the rise of militant Islam. We made it, and even today climate is not our only problem.

I believe that Bjorn Lomborg has much to add: