False Alarm: Today–and Back in the 1970s

Reposted from MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — January 15, 2022

“There’s a long and sad history of efforts by industries and interest groups to reshape the discussion of climate science and undercut the overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gases produced by humans are leading us to global catastrophe.”

– John Schwartz, “How the Riot Ties In with Climate Disinformation.” New York Times, January 13, 2021.

With the election and transfer of power to Biden/Harris, it is climate alarmism galore. The Gods gave us the Pandemic, the landed US hurricanes, and the California wildfires for a reason–to win an election. And the Powers in the sky gave us the Capital riot to help cement the policy momentum of the ‘existential threat.’

Back to the Times‘ Schwartz. “For those of us who cover climate change for a living,” he states,

the blatant lies about election fraud that fed the mob [of January 6, 2021] felt very familiar. A big part of our job is dealing with the disinformation that people and institutions spread to muddy the waters about climate change.

Lies? Disinformation? An optimistic view of future climate has a strong basis in settled science (CO2 fertilization, modest primary warming), just as climate pessimistic has a more speculative basis (as in debated feedback effects to elevate the initial warming).

A Half-century of Exaggeration, Doom

The poor track record of critics of the high-energy, carbon-based economy inspires scepticism towards their sharp turns toward climate alarmism.  Some glaring predictive errors by well-known critics have required substantial, albeit reluctant, revision.[1]

After stating in the 1970s (along with John Holdren) that “it is questionable whether potential resources can be converted into available supplies at economic costs society can pay,” Paul Ehrlich admitted in the 1990s that, “the prices of more raw materials are indeed dropping than are rising.”[2] 

Ehrlich’s conclusion in the 1970s that Los Angeles’s smog problem was incompatible with continued reliance on the internal combustion engine was corrected by his acknowledgement in the 1990s of the “salient success story” of more cars and less pollution.[3] 

Ehrlich’s original concern about global cooling and global warming led to a self-correction that global warming was the apparent problem.[4]

Paul Ehrlich’s protégé, John Holdren, an environmental scientist and energy policy specialist at Harvard University, once feared that the potential death toll from global warming could reach a billion people by 2020.[5]  Yet Holdren recently opined: “That the impacts of global climate disruption may not become the dominant sources of environmental harm to humans for yet a few more decades cannot be a great consolation.”[6] 

In other signs of retreat or, at least, mixed thoughts, Ehrlich and Holdren have respectively warned against rash policy action based on “worst-case prognoses”[7] and acknowledged affordable energy as “the lifeblood of the industrial societies and a prerequisite for the economic development of the others.”[8]  All of these revisions have been toward energy and climate realism, the battle cry of many of us.

Some have suggested that yesterday’s alarmists were really “whistle-blowers” whose “important early warnings … averted … disasters.”[9]  But society has been fortunate to have tuned out alarmism. 

Fearing coal depletion, William Stanley Jevons warned the UK in 1865, “To allow commerce to proceed until the course of civilization is weakened and overturned is like killing the goose to get the golden egg.”[10]  As it turned out, domestic coal supplies were not depleting but expanding for Jevons lifetime and well thereafter before political problems sent the industry in decline. But the UK enjoyed a half century of economic growth that a Bureau of Coal Supply and Allocation could have arrested.

What if the alarms of Paul Ehrlich or John Holdren had inspired a policy of oil rationing and a phase out of the internal combustion engine in the 1970s?  What if power plant construction in the US had been ordered to “cease immediately … except in special circumstances” as recommended by Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman in 1971?[11]   What if the dream of Holdren and Ehrlich in 1973—“a massive campaign must be launched to . . . de-develop the United States” [12]—had been enacted to control energy usage?  A major decarbonisation plan—all in the name of avoiding catastrophic climate change—poses the same risk for the UK and EU today.

[1] For a critical review of the energy pronouncements of Paul Ehrlich, the father of the modern energy Malthusians, see Robert Bradley, Julian Simon and the Triumph of Energy Sustainability (Washington: American Legislative Exchange Council, 2000), pp. 126-49.  A critical review of the energy alarms of Paul Holdren can be found at http://www.cei.org/pdf/3539.pdf.

[2] Bradley, Julian Simon and the Triumph of Energy Sustainability, pp. 130-34.

[3] Ibid., p. 136.

[4] Ibid., pp. 144-45.

[5] “As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon dioxide-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.”  Paul Ehrlich, The Machinery of Nature (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986), p. 274.

[6] John Holdren, “Memorandum to the President: The Energy-Climate Challenge,” in Donald Kennedy and John Riggs, eds., U.S. Policy and the Global Environment: Memos to the President (Washington: The Aspen Institute, 2000), p. 23.

[7] Bradley, Julian Simon and the Triumph of Energy Sustainability, pp. 118-19.

[8] John Holdren, “Meeting the Energy Challenge,” Science, February 9, 2001, p. 945.

[9] Richard Norgaard, “Optimists, Pessimists, and Science,” BioScience, March 2002, p. 288.  Also see Michael Grubb, “Relying on Manna from Heaven?” Science,  294 (2001), pp. 1285-87.

[10] Jevons, William Stanley, The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation and the Probable Exhaustion of our Coal Mines (London: Macmillan and Company, 1865), p. 345.

[11] Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How to Be a Survivor (Rivercity, MA: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), p. 72.

[12] John Holdren, Anne Ehrlich, and Paul Ehrlich, Human Ecology:  Problems and Solutions (San Francisco; W.H. Freeman and Company, 1973), p. 279.

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January 15, 2022 2:19 pm

The paradox:
Earth is warming due to oceans receiving less sunlight. That process commenced in 1585, the last year perihelion occurred before the austral summer solstice.

The reason for this is that the net evaporation rate is reducing – meaning less water is being transferred from oceans to land. The direct consequence is that deep ocean upwelling is in decline and the oceans are retaining more heat.

The GHE believers observe the ocean heat content is increasing and put it down to increased surface radiation – WRONG. Oceans retain more heat when the surface insolation reduces:

The ocean warming is not linked to CO2. It is a long-term trend that started 400 years ago. There will be a slight acceleration as the difference between ocean insolation and land insolation narrows over the next 10,000 years. However land in the northern hemisphere will have less sunshine in December than now and that will lead to more snow. The current cycle of glaciation began 400 years ago.

Last edited 8 months ago by RickWill
Jeff Alberts
Reply to  RickWill
January 15, 2022 9:30 pm

I don’t believe you have it figured out any more than anyone else does. Meaning, no one knows what’s going to happen.

Peter W
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 16, 2022 7:28 am

The Teaching Company published a lecture series on DVD back in 2009, “The Physics of History” by Professor David J. Helfand, Ph.D., of Columbia University. He has a Master’s degree in Physics and a Ph.D. in Astronomy. Lecture 11 includes temperature charts obtained from glacial records in both Antarctica and Greenland, which confirm that the earth is getting colder over the last few hundred years, ignoring the relatively minor ups and downs due to the solar cycles. Yes, we are heading for the next BIG ice age.

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  RickWill
January 17, 2022 2:55 am

Oceans retain more heat when the surface insolation reduces”

Utter tosh, sun makes the sea warmer.

January 15, 2022 2:22 pm

No one will ever convince me that they study CO2….and they don’t know it’s all China

..and the more they say “we”…..the more I know it

Zig Zag Wanderer
January 15, 2022 2:23 pm

“There’s a long and sad history of efforts by industries and interest groups to reshape the discussion of climate science and undercut the overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gases produced by humans are leading us to global catastrophe.”

“There’s a long and sad history of efforts by industries and interest groups to reshape the discussion of climate science and undercut the overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gases produced by humans are not leading us to global catastrophe.”

Fixed it for ya!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
January 16, 2022 4:04 am

“overwhelming evidence”

The Alarmists could save us all a lot of trouble by producing some of this “overwhelming evidence”. To date, the Alarmists have produced exactly zero evidence that CO2 is doing what they claim it is doing. They have been playing this same song for 40 years, and still haven’t produced one shred of evidence supporting their claims. It’s a mental illness.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 16, 2022 10:23 am

Are you saying that justing saying it doesn’t make it true…I’m SHOKED!!!

Reply to  Kennyt
January 16, 2022 10:25 am

JUST SHOCKED I TELL YOU!!! not shocked

Last edited 8 months ago by Kennyt
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Kennyt
January 16, 2022 6:11 pm

Griff is shocked you don’t believe everything he says. After all, it’s Griff the Infallible. He sees CO2 in the weather and he wants the rest of us to see it too.

Greta can see CO2. Griff can see CO2 interacting with the Earth’s weather. Or so they say.

January 15, 2022 2:27 pm

“Disinformation” is in the eye of the beholder.

Reply to  markl
January 15, 2022 5:03 pm

Q) What is the difference between misinformation and truth?
A1) in Covid 3 months
A2) in AGW 30 years

Tom Halla
January 15, 2022 2:27 pm

Just remember, Ehrlich believed having cheap and abundant power would be like “giving an idiot child a machine gun”.

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 15, 2022 2:56 pm

Yes, and Mr. Ehrlich senior came to know quire a lot about having an idiot child.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 15, 2022 4:34 pm

You just described Boris Johnson

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 16, 2022 4:08 am

Imbeciles have a lot in common.

Randy Stubbings
January 15, 2022 2:50 pm

A 1978 documentary narrated by Leonard Nimoy about the coming ice age (May 5, 1978).

Ice Age 1978 Leonard Nimoy – YouTube

Peter W
Reply to  Randy Stubbings
January 15, 2022 3:22 pm

He was merely a little early. The warming since 1978 was due to solar activity, which has a significant, but relatively minor, cyclical effect on our climate. The earth was warmer about 1,000 years ago than it is today, and that is due to the fact that we are heading for the next BIG ice age due to the longest of the Milankovitch cycles. While that cycle runs about 100,000 years, the warm periods are relatively short, and the transitions from warm to cold and back again are relatively rapid. For some evidence, see “Climate Change in Prehistory” by William J. Burroughs, published 2005, Cambridge University Press, and study the chart of sea levels on page 58 carefully. Ignoring the relatively minor solar cycles, which do not even appear on that chart, earth is now colder than it has been for at least the past 6,000 years.

Mark D
Reply to  Peter W
January 15, 2022 5:40 pm

Activity of mankind may be the only thing slowing the next/coming ice age?

January 15, 2022 3:18 pm

Here’s Mark Mill’s 5 minute video about the TOXIC, unreliable S & W disasters.
And Dr Pielke jr has also told us that replacing fossil fuels with S&W is virtually impossible and will never work.
Of course S&W have a limited lifespan of about 20 years and then the entire TOXIC mess has to be buried in landfill FOREVER. Will these religious fanatics EVER WAKE UP?

Reply to  Neville
January 15, 2022 3:30 pm

Parents everywhere should be playing these kinds of presentations of the physics and facts governing wind & solar power generation to their children now, if they want their kids to have an even chance at a decent future quality of life.

Reply to  Neville
January 15, 2022 4:43 pm

This video could do tremendous harm to the aspirations of mining executives. I am surprised Youtube are continuing to host it.

Australia and the mining giants operating in the country are enthusiastic supporters of Net Zero. It is the gift that can never stop giving. No matter how much they produce, the demand will always increase in the pursuit of Net Zero. Once you devise and energy source that consumes more energy in its manufacture than it can ever produce in its operating life, you have created an expanding spiral in demand that just keeps … expanding.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Neville
January 16, 2022 11:56 am

Cancel Culture got it? “this video is no longer available”

Last edited 8 months ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
January 15, 2022 3:42 pm



“AIR CONDITIONING THE MOTHER EARTH 🌎 ” (Climate Third Group by Raveendran Narayanan USA)
NOT CO2 & GHG. CO2 is Plant FOOD.
#UN2021GlobalCompact #NobelPeacePrize2022

January 15, 2022 3:50 pm

I’ve written this before, but I thought I’d contribute my two cents about Holdren again.
During the Obama administration I had the opportunity to interview for a senior position under John Holdren at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. When I arrived for my interview, Holdren and one of his staff were at the whiteboard trying to predict the spread of radiation from Fukushima which had just happened. They were trying to calculate it with no actual data – you simply can’t make this stuff up. Like the Japanese weren’t already predicting the spread infinitely better with real data. Holdren invited me to join in and contribute to the science (I thought he must have said “seance”). Instead, I mentioned several names of people to call in Japan.

I got the job offer (actually to fill two open positions), but I turned it down. I couldn’t bring myself to work for such an idiot.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  meab
January 16, 2022 4:14 am

Holdren has to be one of the worst advisors in history.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 16, 2022 8:42 am

Up there with Lysenko.

Chris Hanley
January 15, 2022 5:21 pm

What if the alarms of Paul Ehrlich or John Holdren had inspired a policy of oil rationing and a phase out of the internal combustion engine in the 1970s? What if power plant construction in the US had been ordered to “cease immediately” …

CO2 emissions from US peaked about 1980 as China’s took off.
Assuming all the GAT rise from 1980 was due to CO2 emission (à la IPCC) the planet would possibly be 0.1C cooler — hooray!.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Chris Hanley
January 15, 2022 6:32 pm

Not quite correct, if US had peaked about 1980 …

January 15, 2022 5:35 pm

An internal combustion engine is good. External combustion engine is bad.

Reply to  Olen
January 16, 2022 8:43 am

That made me chuckle.

Ben Vorlich
January 15, 2022 11:56 pm

The doomsters are giving it all they’ve got at the UK Met Office To give the Daily Mail credit the article does not appear in the Science section currently

The Met Office warns of armed militias roaming a UK ravaged by climate change in doomsday report (but maybe they should get this week’s weather right first!)


Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 16, 2022 1:48 am

The Mail piece, or rather the piece that it reports on, is completely unhinged. The only thing that is more unhinged is the UK government idea that reducing the country’s emissions will have any effect on these nightmare scenarios.

You notice by the way, probably people who have not lived in the UK will have missed it, the gem about health insurance?

The argument from the far left in the UK has always been that people who take out private health insurance, instead of confining themselves to the rationed care from the nationalized state health service, the NHS, are in some way undermining the provision of health care in the UK generally.

Here we have the idea that global warming is going to lead to more private health insurance and this will lead to more inequality in health provision.

Its totally unhinged. First there is no way global warming will lead to more private health insurance. Second, the reason for healthcare shortages in the UK is NHS rationing. Private health insurance and provision actually reduces the burden on the NHS so improves health care for all. And, contrary to the piece, it doesn’t raise inequality, since lots of NHS care is being provided in private hospitals now. Some private is better, some worse. Its immaterial.

But the same mentality that is lost in hysteria about global warming, and which thinks reducing the UK’s paltry levels of emissions will make a difference, also wants to ban health care outside the NHS, just as they want to ban education outside the state school system.

My own life has been saved, twice, by the NHS. Nothing against it. But abolishing private health care in the UK will make it worse, not better. Just as abolishing private education would increase class sizes in the state system. And connecting private health care to global warming, well, to call it deranged is an understatement.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  michel
January 16, 2022 8:39 am

Fight to keep your public/private system. Here in canada we have only the public, North Korean version, we pay far more and get far worse service and outcomes than Britain.
Current debate is why we have only 25% or less ICU beds compared to countries like Britain.

These pushes to eliminate private always come from public health care unions who don’t like looking bad by comparison

Andy Pattullo
January 16, 2022 10:06 am

A sorely missing mechanism by which to silence unfounded speculations of doom and to temper the ill conceived, society-killing policy decisions those speculations lead to is a mechanism of accountability for the predictions and policy recommendations that are made without evidence or careful thought. I would strongly favour legislation or policy that enforce some form of personal accountability for raising unfounded fears, making wildly wrong predictions and pushing policies that erode the quality of life we all enjoy, damage the environment in the name of environmental protection and provide no obvious benefits. This is not an easy thing to do but there are so many ways we could construct systems that force the Malthusian’s and others to put their own credibility, academic credentials and future career on the line when they put themselves into the public arena as experts and take on the role of telling the rest of us how to live.

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