For Earth Day, the 1983 WGBH Episode of NOVA: The Climate Crisis, The Greenhouse Effect

From the Internet Archives

An hour of hilarious alarmism and bad predictions for Earth Day.

Russell Cook also has a post based on this episode over at the Gelspan Files.

“The Climate Crisis: The Greenhouse Effect” – when did the smear of critics get added to that template?

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A “just askin’” post today for investigators with more reach / resources than I have, concerning the epic-level, decades-long defamation of skeptic climate scientists who stand accused of colluding with fossil fuel industry executives in disinformation to undercut the ‘settled science’ of catastrophic man-caused global warming. The fundamental question is, when exactly was that accusation formulated? What was the accusation meant to protect?

My long term educated guess was that it was meant to protect the line about ‘man-caused global warming’ which arose after the infamous summer of 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen made his big “Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate” splash at a congressional hearing on the topic. During my formative grade school / high school / college years, the prospect of imminent global cooling was all I ever heard about. But I missed a particularly creepy broadcast video about the dim prospects of a warming world from 1983.

Yeah, 1983. I found out about this video arising out of an alert of the latest “New Initiative on Climate Change” direction of the PBS “Nova” program, within which was a boast by Nova that their first program on the climate issue was their 1983 “The Climate Crisis: The Greenhouse Effect” program. Huh. News to me. So, I found it and watched it. Almost right off the bat at the 2:09 point, the program runs into a brick wall with Dr Walter Orr Roberts predicting

… by the year 2000, we expect we would be in a unprecedented new climatic regime, different from anything in the recorded history of mankind.

Probably not a single one of us could say the climate was one bit different in 2000 than what we experienced in 1983. But that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg concerning this video. I didn’t learn anything new from the video, it increasingly unfolded as a truly creepy thing to watch. It has every appearance of being a template to all that we see today in the climate issue – burning fossil fuels will only cause more warming / a conveyor belt of glaciers sliding off Antarctica to exponentially raise sea levels / a greenhouse effect comparable to what’s on Venus / a consensus of science opinion / zero opposing viewpoints from scientists disputing the idea of man-caused warming / and “if we don’t act now, it will be too late.” That last bit was at the 33:40 point. It got even more creepy from there, ultimately featuring then-Senator Al Gore and an ex-Jimmy Carter administrator advisor named Gus Speth. It was fairly obvious that this program was largely driven by the work of the late Dr Stephen Schneider, and the end credits proved that. No need to trust me on this, watch the video for yourselves:

The Climate Crisis: The Greenhouse Effect

An arrow the size of Texas pointing to a massive problem with this video – and the larger problem with the overall International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – is the bit at the 46:55 point where the narrator voiced a quote out of an EPA report as it also appeared on the screen, emphasizing the point that the EPA report itself …

No, no, no! That’s entirely backwards. You explore what the uncertainties are, find out if they have merit, and if you cannot prove that what little warming we’ve seen over the last 100 years is primarily driven by human activity, you do not then attempt to “reduce” the uncertainties at gunpoint. Proceeding with action based on a preconceived conclusion is the antithesis of critical thinking. It’s emotion-based rationale personified.

Who was it later in the IPCC pushing the idea that global warming mitigation could only proceed if uncertainties about the necessity of it were knocked down? Dr Stephen Schneider.

Meanwhile, the one single element widely seen today on a regular basis in the climate issue that’s not seen in this 1983 video is the accusation about ‘industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists.’ The opposing viewpoints topic never comes up at all. Perhaps, just like me, the skeptic climate scientists were not aware of this 1983 video, or its 1986 rebroadcast, thus Dr Schneider & crew hadn’t yet seen opposition that needed to be dealt with.

When those skeptics did finally come out in force in 1990 questioning this overall catastrophic warming prediction, who was among the first in 1992 to equate skeptic climate scientists and the fossil fuel industry to the tobacco industry? Dr Stephen Schneider.

Who in 1992 were among the first imply the science was settled and that there was no need to to give “fair media balance” to the skeptic side of the issue – reduce the uncertainties about the science, in other words? As reported by Ross Gelbspan, it was Dr Stephen Schneider and Al Gore.

Who was it later who equated skeptic climate scientists to tobacco industry shills? Al Gore, via Ross Gelbspan. And Dr Stephen Schneider, via Ross Gelbspan.

Then there is the aforementioned appearance of Gus Speth in the 1983 video. That’s James Gustav Speth. Later seen just one and two commas away from Ozone Action staffers John Passacantando and Phil Radford – that Ozone Action, don’t forget. And seen as a radio show guest booked right alongside Kert Davies. That Davies, of Ozone Action and in anti-Exxon efforts, don’t forget. Convenient, isn’t it, that Gus Speth wrote a 2008 book citing Ross Gelbspan’s suggestion that skeptic scientists don’t deserve fair media balance – an effort reduce the uncertainties about the science, in other words? And Gelbspan then turns right around to write a glowing Washington Post review of Speth’s book? Interesting, isn’t it, that Speth is currently still Facebook Friends with Ross Gelbspan?

But back to the 1983 Nova video. For me, it didn’t answer a solitary question on whether the notion of catastrophic man-caused global warming was ever a solid, settled science discussion, it only prompts further questions on whether everything within the video was a template for everyone to follow afterward – minus the bit about ‘crooked skeptics.’ The highly suspect assembly of it in light of how its talking points are pretty much identical to what we see today should prompt the same questions from my assorted climate issue friends. The creepiest line in the whole program came at the 52:02 point, where the narrator says,

To apply the brakes now, to introduce policies to avert the possibility of crisis ahead demands a long range vision, and politicians rarely hold office for more than a few years …”

Look again at the screencapture of Speth’s 2021radio interview, he said “we’ve run a forty-year experiment on whether we can rely on the federal government to rise to the occasion on this climate issue, and we know the results to that experiment are that they can’t and they won’t.”

Who’s we?? And doesn’t that imply that the who climate issue promulgation has been a plan this whole time to ram one side down the public’s throat while actively suppressing dissent about it? And wouldn’t plan also have to include a contingency effort to employ character assassination – to the point of crossing over into defamation territory – in order to protect the plan from total collapse?

Just askin.’ And maybe major investigators may need to ask the same thing, to figure out exactly when that character assassination effort first arose and exactly whose idea it was.

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April 22, 2023 6:04 am

“For Earth Day…”

A rather cheeky Pinot Noir.

Grapes – remind me of better warmer times and climes.

Last edited 1 month ago by strativarius
Reply to  strativarius
April 22, 2023 6:31 am

Warmer times are better times. It’s snowing in Boulder right now and it’s projected to set the record for lowest high temperature for the day since recordings began in the late 1800’s.

Reply to  Scissor
April 22, 2023 6:36 am

I suppose Nanu Nanu is the correct hail?

Hope it warms up for you, it – and the Met Office – is struggling here

Reply to  strativarius
April 22, 2023 7:28 am

Sadly, few on campus would know what you meant but worse they cannot define a “woman.”

Nanu Nanu to you.

Reply to  Scissor
April 22, 2023 9:30 am

Well I think it’s all a bunch of shazbot

Reply to  Scissor
April 22, 2023 2:18 pm

‘Woman’ is clearly defined as ‘A person who identifies as a woman’.

Now, the thing about a word definition is that it can be substituted for the word. eg, “Sunshine is beneficial” becomes “Sunshine is helpful, useful, or good” (Cambridge online dictionary).

So a ‘woman’ is ‘A person who identifies as a person who identifies as a person who identifies as a person who identifies as a person who identifies as a person who identifies as a person who identifies as a ……………..’.

So much of the cr*p floating around today is circular. I wonder why.

Reply to  Scissor
April 22, 2023 8:20 am

Leaves are about a whole month late coming out…only have some small lilac leaves right now.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Scissor
April 22, 2023 9:16 am

Attention NASA GISS, clean-up needed in aisle 5….

John Shewchuk
April 22, 2023 6:08 am

I don’t buy it. The “greenhouse” effect is just a narrative and a diversion to hide the “solar” effect. If fact, instead of Earth Day it would be better to call it the Sun Day, for it’s the solar cycles which control our climate.

Reply to  John Shewchuk
April 22, 2023 6:11 am

The Sun day or Winter Solstice is already celebrated – on the correct day

Reply to  John Shewchuk
April 23, 2023 6:01 pm

Yes, it would appear that our modern interglacial period is slowly coming to an end. But it may me many thousands of years before it is really apparent that such is happening. Despite the hype there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on global climate but it does have effect on life on this planet. Hopefully by the burning of fossil fuels we can put enough CO2 back into the atmosphere so that CO2 levels will not get as low during the next glaciation period as they did during the past glaciation period. Hopefully we will not have to get CO2 from carbonate rocks just to add CO2 to our atmosphere so as to preserve life on this planet during the next ice age.

John Shewchuk
Reply to  willhaas
April 23, 2023 6:10 pm

Precisely — my thoughts also — which is why I made this 2.5 minute, CO2 Famine video …

Tom Halla
April 22, 2023 6:12 am

I have been following this issue since the first celebration of Lenin’s Birthday/Earth Day, and the hysterical tone has not changed one bit.
Curiously, what they were recommending to deal with global cooling then is what also is demanded for global warming now.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 22, 2023 6:33 am

Old communists die but are not forgotten soon enough. Some might say they don’t die soon enough.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 22, 2023 6:46 am

I don’t think we are supposed to notice that.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 22, 2023 12:31 pm

Earth Day just happened to be inaugurated on Lenin’s centenary, April 22, 1970 …

Steve Case
April 22, 2023 6:50 am

Time Magazine

The Case For Making Earth Day a Religious Holiday

Is anyone here surprised?

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Steve Case
April 22, 2023 7:37 am

Still on a religious tack: “(the) Moment conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn crashes XR church service and tells eco-activists they’re ‘working for the Devil’ during rant – before he’s escorted out of chapel as Christians sing Amazing Grace

It’s all just sooooo childish. Grow Up people. Just. Grow. Up.

The Daily Fail

Last edited 1 month ago by Peta of Newark
April 22, 2023 7:11 am

Most of the people who push this global warming scare are simply virtue-signaling. They don’t know their science from a hole in the ground.

Reply to  Marty
April 22, 2023 12:24 pm

Including all those virtuous people who are so clamorous in praising those completely unnecessary EVs!

April 22, 2023 7:27 am

“…underscores the need to reduce the remaining scientific uncertainties as quickly as possible.”

This is exactly what the trendologists of today (they study trends, not climate) do—declare that GAT anomalies have impossibly small measurement uncertainties through endless averaging.

Russell Cook
Reply to  karlomonte
April 22, 2023 8:46 am

Precisely what creeped me out about this video. Remember the old line from Phil Jones to Warwick Hughes? “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?” Jones wanted to reduce the uncertainties at all cost, but along came Hughes with the potential to expose the actual uncertainty within Jones work. Same with all our skeptic scientists going clean back to 1990. The skeptics didn’t manufacture uncertainty (a.k.a. “doubt”) out of thin air, they instead exposed what the CAGW crew was trying to hide.

Reply to  Russell Cook
April 22, 2023 10:11 am

They all thought they were safe and would never be discovered…then the truth poured out. Yet Mickey Mann & Co persist in the fool’s errand.

April 22, 2023 7:52 am

I’m watching a show on Coral Reef Bleaching. Ironically they are touting how they have replanted Coral to revive a bleached coral. The problems here should be obvious:

1) If it was climate change and pollution that killed the reef, why would the new coral fare any better? Neither the climate nor pollution has changed, but the new coral is doing just fine. If someone salts a field, it will kill all current and future plants.

2) They accidentally discovered what was causing the bleaching and warming of the oceans and it isn’t CO2. They literally state that too much incoming sunlight bleaches the coral. That should be all the evidence one needs that there has been a change of incoming radiation reaching the oceans causing them to warm and bleach the coral. It has nothing to do with CO2.

The answer is right in front of their eyes and they don’t see it. Evidence of fewer clouds over the oceans is abundant and increased coral bleaching is evidence of that.

Reply to  CO2isLife
April 22, 2023 9:48 am

Abnormally low tides that coincide with afternoon sun is what causes bleaching. That can push 1,000 W/m-2 at noon in the tropics. Orders of magnitude larger than the IPCC’s forcing for CO2.

Richard M
Reply to  gyan1
April 22, 2023 9:58 am

Add in the sea level effects from ENSO variations. Plus, there is no forcing from CO2 whatsoever.

April 22, 2023 8:02 am

Greenhouses don’t trap radiation, they stop convection. Same thing for the inside of a car with the windows up. Open the windows and it cools very quickly.

Gary Pearse
April 22, 2023 8:54 am

The deepest guy behind all this was Canadian communist high school dropout billionaire genius environmentalist Maurice Strong. Look up his wiki bio. He invented all the UN infrastructure for environmental and human caused global warming. Here’s a quote:

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

Schneider was one of Strong’s useful idiots.

David Dibbell
April 22, 2023 8:58 am

I took the time to watch the video. Wow. Same song, on repeat for all these years. The attribution was never valid to begin with, but it may take a few more years or decades for it to become more obvious.

But in the meantime, China and India are building large new fleets of modern, low-pollution coal-fired power plants. That might be the “all you need to know” point to keep repeating in response.

Last edited 1 month ago by David Dibbell
Philip CM
April 22, 2023 9:00 am

Ah, Earth Day. That day that became a week when all the anti-human’s drag themselves up out of their basements to remind us all of how evil and destructive, we are. For using the resources earth offers to make all our lives better by all metrics of humans being.
Their haranguing just makes you feel warm all over. 😒

April 22, 2023 9:28 am

Falsification is the first and most important step in the scientific method after proposing a hypothesis. There is no need to design experiments to validate the hypothesis if evidence shows it isn’t true.

Charlatans pushing the climate crisis narrative have abandoned the scientific method in favor of preposterous pseudoscience. The human forcing is smaller than the error bars in model assumptions. Natural variability also dwarfs it. Because of that no statistically significant conclusions can be made about future conditions. Liars are pushing the narrative that hypothetical simulations falsified by observations represent an unquestionable determination of future climate states.

There is zero empirical evidence supporting the climate crisis narrative and multiple lines of empirical evidence proving it is pure bunk.

On this Earth day we should be celebrating human’s symbiotic gift of CO2 which is greening the planet creating more life.

The eco zealots who believe we are killing the planet are psychotically deluded. Human stewardship of the environment has continuously improved.

Last edited 1 month ago by gyan1
Gary Pearse
April 22, 2023 9:30 am

Proceeding with action based on a preconceived conclusion is the antithesis of critical thinking. It’s emotion-based rationale personified.”

The entire manmade global warming construct is a perfect example of Bertrand Russell’s small, distant, orbiting teapot discussion of the logic of whose job it is to prove or disprove its existence. I’ve offered this link several times in comments to article authors, scientists (oh woe!) and non-scientists alike, that seem to be unaware of this important point.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
April 22, 2023 12:44 pm

Thank you for that reference, which I had not seen previously.. It states what so many of us think but have not been able to put into such obvious words. Now, on to Richard Dawkins!

April 22, 2023 10:20 am

Earth Day = May Day.

April 22, 2023 10:23 am

GREAT piece of research. Thanks, Charles.

Hans Erren
April 22, 2023 11:13 am

I studied geophysics in 1983, the climate group in Utrecht was a five person department with one PhD student studying ice dynamics under Oerlemans.
Climate was a non-issue in 1983.

April 22, 2023 12:09 pm

My government and their non governmental organization partners repeatedly warn me that:

“if you don’t act now, it will be too late.”

Is always a key indicator of a scam operation.

E. Schaffer
April 22, 2023 12:18 pm

Here the definition of the GHE in AR5:

Greenhouse effect The infrared radiative effect of all infrared-absorbing constituents in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, clouds, and (to a small extent) aerosols absorb terrestrial radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface and elsewhere in the atmosphere. These substances emit infrared radiation in all directions, but, everything else being equal, the net amount emitted to space is normally less than would have been emitted in the absence of these absorbers because of the decline of temperature with altitude in the troposphere and the consequent weakening of emission. An increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases increases the magnitude of this effect; the difference is sometimes called the enhanced greenhouse effect. The change in a greenhouse gas concentration because of anthropogenic emissions contributes to an instantaneous radiative forcing. Surface temperature and troposphere warm in response to this forcing, gradually restoring the radiative balance at the top of the atmosphere.

Notice how this is different from what the video tries to explain. While this was totally based on “back radiation”, by now it is out of the window, and rightfully so.

Did you ever hear the orthodoxy stepping forward and admitting their mistake? Like sorry, we only just learned how the GHE works and for the longest time we got it completely wrong!?

Reply to  E. Schaffer
April 22, 2023 7:07 pm

Greenhouse gases, clouds, and (to a small extent) aerosols absorb terrestrial radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface and elsewhere in the atmosphere. 

There is next to no radiation emission from Earth’s surface. The heat transport is dominated by sensible heat transfer by conduction and convection.

This fact is easily verifiable by simple measurement. The transmission of long wave radiation through atmospheric air at 1013hPa is so close to zero that it is unmeasurable.

NOTHING of consequence happens at Earth’s surface due to radiation heat transfer.

April 22, 2023 4:02 pm

And just a few years earlier, the scare was the coming ice-age, just as Spock said.

Last edited 1 month ago by beng135
Tom Abbott
April 22, 2023 6:38 pm

From the article: “Who in 1992 were among the first [to] imply the science was settled and that there was no need to to give “fair media balance” to the skeptic side of the issue – reduce the uncertainties about the science, in other words? As reported by Ross Gelbspan, it was Dr Stephen Schneider and Al Gore.”

Stephen Schneider had a lot of gall suggesting that the science was settled.

Schneider was a major proponent of the Human-caused Global Cooling scam in the 1970’s, and then, when temperatures stopped cooling, and started warming up, he switchhed over to being a proponent of the Human-caused Global Warming scam.

Schneider saying the science is settled, now that’s funny. Schneider went from settled-science Human-caused Global Cooling, to settled-science Human-caused Global Warming, and didn’t miss a beat.

April 23, 2023 5:53 pm

The science they talk about is all wrong. The predictions they made are all wrong. For the truth about climate change people need to be reading “The Rational Climate e-Book” by Patrice Poyet. The down load is free. If anyone else has any other good references then please provide it here.

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