News media blowing hot and cold for 140 years

by Kirk Myers

Arctic Ocean warming, icebergs growing scarce, Washington Post reports

Seminole County Environmental News Examiner
Kirk Myers
March 2, 2010  9:27 PM

“The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot,” according to a Commerce Department report published by the Washington Post.

Writes the Post: “Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers... all point to a radical change in climate conditions and... unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone... Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones... while at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared.”

More evidence of human-caused global warming? Hardly.

The above report of runaway Arctic warming is from a Washington Post story published Nov. 2, 1922 and bears an uncanny resemblance to the tales of global warming splattered across the front pages of today's newspapers. It is one of many historical accounts published during the past 140 years describing climate changes and often predicting catastrophic cooling or warming.

Here are excerpts from a few of those accounts, appearing as early as 1870:

“The climate of New-York and the contiguous Atlantic seaboard has long been a study of great interest. We have just experienced a remarkable instance of its peculiarity. The Hudson River, by a singular freak of temperature, has thrown off its icy mantle and opened its waters to navigation.” — New York Times, Jan. 2, 1870

“Is our climate changing? The succession of temperate summers and open winters through several years, culminating last winter in the almost total failure of the ice crop throughout the valley of the Hudson, makes the question pertinent. The older inhabitants tell us that the winters are not as cold now as when they were young, and we have all observed a marked diminution of the average cold even in this last decade.” New York Times, June 23, 1890

“The question is again being discussed whether recent and long-continued observations do not point to the advent of a second glacial period, when the countries now basking in the fostering warmth of a tropical sun will ultimately give way to the perennial frost and snow of the polar regions.” — New York Times, Feb. 24, 1895

Professor Gregory of Yale University stated that “another world ice-epoch is due.” He was the American representative to the Pan-Pacific Science Congress and warned that North America would disappear as far south as the Great Lakes, and huge parts of Asia and Europe would be “wiped out.” — Chicago Tribune, Aug. 9, 1923

“The discoveries of changes in the sun's heat and southward advance of glaciers in recent years have given rise to the conjectures of the possible advent of a new ice age” — Time Magazine, Sept. 10, 1923

Headline: “America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776; Temperature Line Records a 25-year Rise” New York Times, March 27, 1933

“America is believed by Weather Bureau scientists to be on the verge of a change of climate, with a return to increasing rains and deeper snows and the colder winters of grandfather's day.” — Associated Press, Dec. 15, 1934

Warming Arctic Climate Melting Glaciers Faster, Raising Ocean Level, Scientist Says — “ ‘A mysterious warming of the climate is slowly manifesting itself in the Arctic, engendering a ‘serious international problem,’ Dr. Hans Ahlmann, noted Swedish geophysicist, said today.” — New York Times, May 30, 1937

“Greenland's polar climate has moderated so consistently that communities of hunters have evolved into fishing villages. Sea mammals, vanishing from the west coast, have been replaced by codfish and other fish species in the area's southern waters.” — New York Times, Aug. 29, 1954

“An analysis of weather records from Little America shows a steady warming of climate over the last half century. The rise in average temperature at the Antarctic outpost has been about five degrees Fahrenheit.” — New York Times, May 31, 1958

“Several thousand scientists of many nations have recently been climbing mountains, digging tunnels in glaciers, journeying to the Antarctic, camping on floating Arctic ice. Their object has been to solve a fascinating riddle: what is happening to the world's ice?” — New York Times, Dec. 7, 1958

“After a week of discussions on the causes of climate change, an assembly of specialists from several continents seems to have reached unanimous agreement on only one point: it is getting colder.” — New York Times, Jan. 30, 1961

“Like an outrigger canoe riding before a huge comber, the earth with its inhabitants is caught on the downslope of an immense climatic wave that is plunging us toward another Ice Age.” — Los Angeles Times, Dec. 23, 1962

“Col. Bernt Balchen, polar explorer and flier, is circulating a paper among polar specialists proposing that the Arctic pack ice is thinning and that the ocean at the North Pole may become an open sea within a decade or two.” — New York Times, Feb. 20, 1969

“By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half... .” — Life magazine, January 1970

“In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.” — Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day, 1970

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind. We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” — Barry Commoner (Washington University), Earth Day, 1970

Because of increased dust, cloud cover and water vapor, “the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.” — Newsweek magazine, Jan. 26, 1970

“The United States and the Soviet Union are mounting large-scale investigations to determine why the Arctic climate is becoming more frigid, why parts of the Arctic sea ice have recently become ominously thicker and whether the extent of that ice cover contributes to the onset of ice ages.” — New York Times, July 18, 1970

“In the next 50 years, fine dust that humans discharge into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel will screen out so much of the sun's rays that the Earth's average temperature could fall by six degrees. Sustained emissions over five to 10 years, could be sufficient to trigger an ice age.” — Washington Post, July 9, 1971

“It's already getting colder. Some midsummer day, perhaps not too far in the future, a hard, killing frost will sweep down on the wheat fields of Saskatchewan, the Dakotas and the Russian steppes...” — Los Angles Times, Oct. 24, 1971

“An international team of specialists has concluded from eight indexes of climate that there is no end in sight to the cooling trend of the last 30 years, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.” — New York Times, Jan. 5, 1978

“A poll of climate specialists in seven countries has found a consensus that there will be no catastrophic changes in the climate by the end of the century. But the specialists were almost equally divided on whether there would be a warming, a cooling or no change at all.” — New York Times, Feb. 18, 1978

“A global warming trend could bring heat waves, dust-dry farmland and disease, the experts said... Under this scenario, the resort town of Ocean City, Md., will lose 39 feet of shoreline by 2000 and a total of 85 feet within the next 25 years.” — San Jose Mercury News, June 11, 1986

“Global warming could force Americans to build 86 more power plants -- at a cost of $110 billion -- to keep all their air conditioners running 20 years from now, a new study says...Using computer models, researchers concluded that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide two degrees by 2010, and the drain on power would require the building of 86 new midsize power plants — Associated Press, May 15, 1989

“New York will probably be like Florida 15 years from now.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 17, 1989

“[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots... [By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers... The Mexican police will round up illegal American migrants surging into Mexico seeking work as field hands.” — “Dead Heat: The Race Against the Greenhouse Effect,” Michael Oppenheimer and Robert H. Boyle, 1990.

“It appears that we have a very good case for suggesting that the El Ninos are going to become more frequent, and they're going to become more intense and in a few years, or a decade or so, we'll go into a permanent El Nino. So instead of having cool water periods for a year or two, we'll have El Nino upon El Nino, and that will become the norm. And you'll have an El Nino, that instead of lasting 18 months, lasts 18 years,” according to Dr. Russ Schnell, a scientist doing atmospheric research at Mauna Loa Observatory. — BBC, Nov. 7, 1997

“Scientists are warning that some of the Himalayan glaciers could vanish within ten years because of global warming. A build-up of greenhouse gases is blamed for the meltdown, which could lead to drought and flooding in the region affecting millions of people.” — The Birmingham Post in England, July 26, 1999

“This year (2007) is likely to be the warmest year on record globally, beating the current record set in 1998.” — ScienceDaily, Jan. 5, 2007

“Arctic warming has become so dramatic that the North Pole may melt this summer (2008), report scientists studying the effects of climate change in the field. ‘We're actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history],’ David Barber, of the University of Manitoba, told National Geographic News aboard the C.C.G.S. Amundsen, a Canadian research icebreaker.” — National Geographic News, June 20, 2008

“So the climate will continue to change, even if we make maximum effort to slow the growth of carbon dioxide. Arctic sea ice will melt away in the summer season within the next few decades. Mountain glaciers, providing fresh water for rivers that supply hundreds of millions of people, will disappear - practically all of the glaciers could be gone within 50 years... Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know... We would set the planet on a course to the ice-free state, with sea level 75 metres higher. Climatic disasters would occur continually.” Dr. James Hansen (NASA GISS), The Observer, Feb. 15, 2009.

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Climate change? Yes, there has been plenty of that during the past 140 years. Despite warnings by "experts of the day” of approaching climate disasters, mankind somehow managed to survive. A decade or so from now, after earth's climate changes once again, those who are old enough will recall with amusement the time, early in the 21st century, when the world went crazy over an imaginary threat called “global warming.”

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