Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Coming Ice Age

One of a series of three videos from the seventies worrying about a new ice age. The usual suspects are all there - visual drama, doom-laden commentary, tame experts and a celebrity - in this case Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame.  The other two videos are here and here. h/t Gore Lied.

The third video features the late Stephen Schneider who later switched to predicting global warming and according to the same Gore Lied post had this to say to Discover magazine in October 1989.

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

To my mind these are the words of an ethically naive man rather than an out and out liar, but even as I write those words I wonder if I'm being naive too.


Sackerson said...

What are ze words und music of der Gore Lied?

Mark Wadsworth said...

"das Gore Lied" (nominative) or "des Gore Liedes" (genetive).

Apart from that, did the Ice Age forecast in the 1970s not happen, or is it swooping down on us in some sort of weird parallel universe pincer movement where we get clobbered by an Ice Age and global warming all at the same time?

(Note to self: check central heating boiler).

Demetrius said...

It all depends on the celestial game of snap being played between the deity and the devil. The trouble is that they are playing with marked cards, both know they are marked but they do not know that the other knows. It is really that simple.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - Twist and Shout?

Mark - yes they could combine in a pincer movement where the next big scare is an unprecedentedly tepid climate.

Demetrius - sounds authentic enough to me. Who marked the cards though? There is always another question.

Edward Spalton said...

In the mid Seventies the CIA was convinced by the then "scientific consensus" around global cooling. They believed that large areas of Canada,,Russia and Northern China would be under permanent thick ice and snow.

One thing which may have influenced them was the near total,failure of the Soviet Winter-sown wheat crop of 1972 because of scanty snow cover and very low temperatures.

I know 'cos I was there - in the grain trade that is. We had just digested the near doubling of price and the bureaucratic complications of the EEC Common Agricultural Policy when prices doubled again. The Soviets had launched a very well executed raid on the Chicago market and the world was very short of wheat.
All commodities got caught up in a spiral of speculation.

A K Haart said...

Edward - yes I've seen a number of online reports suggesting that the CIA saw global cooling as a genuine threat.

Which it must be of course, because nobody knows where the climate will go next.