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ImageSometimes it's good to step back from an issue or problem and get a little perspective. In the case of the global warming "hysteria" (it's the word that comes readily to mind), pausing and drawing a deep breath or two would seem particularly valuable. A little history wouldn't hurt, either.

Both sides of the global warming debate (which GW-shills say is "over") are basically talking past each other now. Political forces are gathering to "save the Earth" with far-reaching "green" reforms that haven't really been thought through. A lot of economic damage could result. All three major presidential candidates seem to be of the same mind - that global warming is a real, urgent, possibly catastrophic problem that must be addressed without delay - never mind that developing countries like China and India are spending no time worrying about it.

Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are doctrinaire liberals, of course, so one would expect them to align solidly with moves to restrict use of energy, collect higher taxes, deconstruct the industrial economy, and make most Americans poorer. This is what liberals do. Mr. McCain seems like a pretty smart guy, so I can't believe he really buys all this stuff about the Earth burning up and the ice caps melting. (Maybe he's just pandering to his liberal "base".)

Scientists generally admit that the warming trend starting around 1980 appears to be over. Earth's climate has actually cooled since 1998. The past winter of record snows and low temperatures - the coldest in 100 years - erased all the temperature gains of the last century. I read a recent article showing that the northern polar ice cap is more extensive than it has been for decades, although the writer darkly warned that this is "new ice" (the significance of which escaped me).

As part of my desultory research into the climate issue, I found a brief television clip on Utube called "Global Cooling - The Coming Ice Age" [1]. Only six minutes long, it consisted entirely of panels of text which a narrator read while a musical sound-track played. A transcript was not available, but I took the time to create my own. I reproduce it here for my readers' edification. I was pretty surprised at how familiar the language sounded. I think readers will be as well.

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Global Cooling - The Coming Ice Age

Some say the world will end in fire. Some say in Ice. (Robert Frost - from Fire and Ice)

Thirty years ago headlines were filled with stories about global cooling and threats of an imminent ice age. Now the message has changed... The tactics have not

Newsweek, April 28, 1975

"There are ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically, and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production - with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food production could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now.

"The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard pressed to keep up with it. ...[Meteorologists] are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic.

"Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars' worth of damage in 13 U. S. states.

"The longer planners delay, the more difficult they will find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality."

Time, June 24, 1974

"In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims. During 1972, record rains in parts of the U. S., Pakistan and Japan caused some of the worst flooding in centuries.

"...[Meteorologists] find that the atmosphere has been growing steadily cooler for the last three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. ...the weather aberrations [meteorologists] are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

"Man, too, may be somewhat responsible for the cooling trend. The University of Wisconsin's Reid A. Bryson and other climatologists suggest that dust and other particles released into the atmosphere as a result of farming and fuel burning may be blocking more and more sunlight..."

"Scientists figure that only a 1% decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting the earth's surface could tip the planet enough to send it sliding down the road to another ice age within only a few hundred years."

Science Digest, February 1973

"'Man is doing things,' says [Dr. Cesare] Emiliani, ‘such as industrial pollution and deforestation that have effects on the environment.'

"At this point, the world's climatologists are agreed on only two things:..

"...that we do not have the comfortable distance of tens of thousands of years to prepare for the next ice age, and that how carefully we monitor our atmospheric pollution will have a direct bearing on the arrival and nature of this weather crisis.

"The sooner man confronts these facts, these scientists say, the safer he'll be. Once the freeze starts, it will be too late."

(Narrator) This is just a small sample of the popular press of the time. Many other sources exist, but the question now is did scientists really believe this, or was it confined to the popular press as some now claim?

Damon & Kunen, August 6, 1976

"The world's inhabitants, including scientists, live primarily in the Northern Hemisphere. It is quite natural to be concerned about events that occur close to home and neglect faraway events.

"Hence, it is not surprising that so little attention has been given to the Southern Hemisphere. Evidence for global cooling has been based, in large part, on a severe cooling trend at high northern latitudes."

(Narrator) This article, which appeared as opinion and climate were beginning to change, is interesting because it demonstrates clearly that the scientific "consensus" was concerned with global cooling. Concerns about an ice age persisted despite the fact that CO2 was already long thought to cause warming.

Rasool & Schneider, July 1971

"Effects on the global temperature of large increases in carbon dioxide and aerosol densities in the atmosphere of Earth have been computed. It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5º K... If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed sufficient to trigger and ice age."

(Narrator) This paper is particularly interesting because it not only predicts an ice age, but it declares that the CO2 forcing diminishes as CO2 increases. More interesting still, and ironic, is the fact that Stephen Schneider is now a vocal CO2 alarmist.

Other figures from the ‘70s are turning up in interesting places in the global warming debate, too. Nigel Calder, Reid Bryson and Lowell Ponte were ice age alarmists who are now global warming skeptics. Fred Singer, the ‘70s ice age skeptic who wrote, "Will the World Come to a Horrible End?" in Science magazine, back in the 1970s, is still skeptical.

James Hansen, a ‘70s global warming alarmist, changed his focus in the 1990s to de-emphasize CO2. This culminated in 2000 with his article: "Global Warming in the twenty-first century: an alternative scenario."

Since then, Hansen has become such an extreme global warming alarmist that he often makes Al Gore look moderate.

Perhaps the most astonishing of all the stories is that of George Kukla, a ‘70s ice age alarmist, who still believes an ice age is imminent.

Geff Magazine, April 24, 2007

"George Kukla: So my advice: wait and see what happens! In no more than 50 years we'll see who's right. The only thing to worry about [with global warming] is the damage that can be done by worrying. Why are some scientists worried? Perhaps because they feel that to stop worrying may mean to stop being paid."

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Did all this not seem eerily familiar, but reversed? Notice the familiar themes of extreme weather, global catastrophe, an irreversible slide toward doom, people suffering and dying, the urgency to act without delay, and man's likely responsibility for the whole, terrible mess. Also, the scientific consensus. The ignorant American public - indeed, the world public - is being played like a violin on climate-catastrophe. We are being whipsawed from one scenario of doom to another, on the basis of weather. The doomsayers haven't even bothered to change the text - only the title.

We're not learning anything here. I have no doubt that reports showing the climate has stabilized would be closely followed by dark warnings about climate "stagnation" and the urgent need for the "environmental purgative" of a changing climate. Whatever the situation, the prognostication is the same: we're doomed unless we hand over all our money to government, trade in our cars for bicycles, and start tilling the land with sharp sticks. The shtick is getting a little old.

H. L. Mencken wrote: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. People can easily be persuaded to accept the most inferior ideas or useless products."

Michelle Obama recently said that this [her husband's candidacy] was the first time she felt really proud of her country. For my part, the global warming hysteria is perhaps the first time I have felt really embarrassed for my country. I can't believe we are being this dumb.

Could we get a grip, people? The whole hokey climate-scare thing shouldn't have worked once, let alone twice. This isn't funny - it's like juggling a grenade. Sooner or later somebody's going to get hurt. It's hurting us already. We're paying $4.00 a gallon for gas, but we won't touch oil we know is in the ground because of the caribou and CO2. The Chinese are drilling for oil between Florida and Cuba, but we won't. We're replacing the safe, cheap incandescent light bulb with expensive fluorescent bulbs that cause a toxic mercury spill if you drop one. We're talking about getting rid of all the cows because they pass gas. Come on guys, we're smarter than this.

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[1] The Coming Ice Age: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ttLBqB0qDko