When science says something potentially damaging to your bottom line, and all the evidence points to the inevitable conclusion that yes, that potentially damaging thing is real and really damaging both to your bottom line and to the fate of human civilization, what’s your first reaction? Naturally, lie like crazy for half a century until your lies pick up enough steam to dupe enough people that you can get away with all sorts of lies, big and small, to protect said bottom line. Yes, at the expense of human civilization. I mean, it’s perfectly okay, since climate change won’t kill everyone until long (or possibly shortly) after you’ve enjoyed the lap of luxury through your declining years!
This is exactly what the Big Lie that scientists “predicted an ice age in the 1970s” was. And given the scope of that big lie, it’s honestly no surprise that the good folks at the Washington Examiner borrowed Sagan’s authority to suggest that this big lie was in fact the truth. And by “borrow” I mean “defecate on”.
While I can’t prove a negative, I would be very skeptical of it unless they’ve got some period documentation. Sagan was at any rate one of the first to worry about global warming. He was a principal architect of the current understanding of Venus, showing that the carbon dioxide in its atmosphere caused it to be much hotter than astronomers of the time had imagined. In my Sagan biography I write (p. 45):
“One day in Berkeley, Carl told Ronald Blum (he had moved west, too) that he was worried about the carbon dioxide in the air. The burning of fuel was creating more carbon dioxide. This would increase the earth’s greenhouse effect and warm the globe with disastrous consequences. At the time, that was an incredible if not crazy thing to say. It could not have been later than 1963.”
This was based on an interview with Ronald Blum, a college friend.
Science historian Spencer Weart also said he had never heard the claim that Sagan called for increased CO2 emissions:
No, I never heard that Carl Sagan, or indeed anyone in the 1970s, endorsed the idea of producing CO2 to forestall an ice age. It’s true that the idea of using CO2 in this way was circulated already early in the 20th century, but anything along those lines would have been speculation about a distant future–few expected a real ice age would come except over the course of centuries or, more likely, millennia.
Not only does the Washington Examiner op-ed revise 1970s history, it also takes liberties with more recent news. The op-ed, titled “Ice age threat should freeze EPA global warming regs,” says astrophysicists recently predicted that because of low sunspot activity, “we may be heading into the next ice age.”
But the scientists who conducted that solar research had a different take: “We are NOT predicting a mini-ice age. We are predicting the behavior of the solar cycle. In my opinion, it is a huge leap from that to an abrupt global cooling, since the connections between solar activity and climate are still very poorly understood.”
Media Matters has more.
There was never a prediction of a global ice age. There were a few non-scientific magazines like Time that got science wrong (as though that doesn’t happen to this very day!), but there was most certainly not any consensus amongst any scientists that we were heading into an ice age, nor would Carl Sagan suggest releasing CO2 to combat a problem that the best science of the day said we weren’t experiencing. That anthropogenic global warming is happening has pretty much been shown to be true since 1956. This is a damnable lie, and anyone in the media willing to lie to further their cause should be fired immediately.
I know, awful naive of me. But then, what do I know? I’m just a “Self appointed web based blogger of nonsense, tosser!”. Which I think means I appointed myself to blog, as well as masturbate to nonsensical pictures.
Mike Haubrich and Greg Laden are going to talk to Kevin Zelnio and John Abraham this Sunday on Minneapolis’ Atheists Talk Radio (that’s right, the radio show I was on once! Good memory, faithful reader!) about climate change. If you’d like, ask them some questions ahead of time.