On April 28, 1975, Newsweek published an article entitled “The Cooling World,” which posited that the Earth was entering a state of global cooling and that meteorologists were divided only on the cause and extent of the trend.

Image Copyright Adam Ward

Image Copyright Adam Ward

On Wednesday, the article’s author, Peter Gwynne, wrote a thoughtful piece on how outdated the article is and how tired he is of various conservative and anti-environmental groups using it to deny global warming.

“[A]fter decades of scientific advances,” he writes, “let me say this: While the hypotheses described in that original story seemed right at the time, climate scientists now know that they were seriously incomplete. Our climate is warming—not cooling, as the original story suggested.”

Despite this fact, and the accumulation of several more facts, Gwynne laments that “certain websites and individuals that dispute, disparage, and deny the science…continue to quote my article.”

There were several atmospheric scientists that endorsed global cooling in 1975, he says. “But that was then.”

It has been nearly 40 years since Gwynne wrote that article, and in that time both science and technology have advanced by leaps and bounds. Gwynne alludes to the fact that over 97 percent of climate scientists today believe that man-made emissions are influencing global warming (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also raised the likelihood of anthropogenic climate change to 95 percent in its latest report).

Gwynne even reached out to Planet Expert and Distinguished Professor of Meteorology Michael Mann for his piece. “There’s no serious dispute any more about whether the globe is warming,” Mann says, “whether humans are responsible, and whether we will see large and dangerous changes in the future—in the words of the National Academy of Sciences—which we didn’t know in the 1970s.”

Gwynne issues a formal mea culpa for the part his article has played in disputing the current science, as a tool to muddy the public’s understanding of climate change, or even deceive outright.

“Those who reject climate science ignore the fact that, like other fields, climatology has evolved since 1975,” he writes. “The certainty that our atmosphere is indeed warming stems from a series of rigorous observations and theoretical concepts that fit into computer models and an overall framework outlining the nature of Earth’s climate.”

Head over to Slate to read the full article. To learn what major impacts global warming and climate change are having on the planet right now, check out Planet Experts’ Inconvenient Omnibus.

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2 Responses

  1. drdischord says:

    The fact is, all through the 1970s, the few refereed papers making climate predictions were five or six to one for warming. The majority position in that decade was “we don’t have enough information yet to make climate predictions.” A reporter who did due diligence would surely have discovered that fact. Imminent Ice Age was not a “significant strand” in scientific opinion at the time, despite Gwynne’s continued claims that it was, it was a handful of outliers, a minority within a minority. Gwynne ran off half cocked with a false story that made a significant dent in public confidence in the climate related sciences, and he still hasn’t admitted the fault was his.

    See “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” 2008 in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

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