Saturday, April 24, 2010

Earth Day 40

The 22d was the 40th Earth Day celebration, oh shucks, I forgot to make an appropriate comment.

But it is always good to remember Newsweek’s famous 1975 article on Climate Change.

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 output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas – parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia – where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon.

The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree – a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation. 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.

To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they 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. “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, “because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.”
The Cooling World, Newsweek, April 28, 1975 Click to read the whole article.
The article is reprinted on Dennis Sutton’s webpage. He is the editor of the must read Arts and Letters Daily.

He comments:
It may look foolish today, but in fact world temperatures had been falling since about 1940. It was around 1979 that they reversed direction and resumed the general rise that had begun in the 1880s, bringing us today back to around 1940 levels.

And the cycle started to turn over about 2002 and since 2007 is cooling again. And in about thirty or so years the cycle will start warming and in another 30 or so years. . .

To keep up with the latest climate change news follow Climate Debate Daily, which every day brings you the best of both sides of the controversy.

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A Very Inconvenient Court Ruling
2007 Year of Global Cooling
Climate Change Schadenfreude

Update: December 31, 2010:
From Time Magazine June 24, 1974
Another Ice Age?

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