Thongchai Thailand

Evolution of The Climate Scare: Callendar to Greta

Posted on: May 13, 2019



  1. Paleo temperature reconstructions show that at some period between the 1500AD and 1900AD, Europe, and many other parts of the world, experienced a multi-centennial period of a cooling trend with growth of glaciers and ice sheets {Thompson, Lonnie G., et al. “The Little Ice Age as recorded in the stratigraphy of the tropical Quelccaya ice cap.” Science234.4774}. A bibliography of this event is provided in a related post on this site  [LINK]. This cold period, known as the Little Ice Age (LIA), was a period of great hardship for Europeans. Canals and rivers were frozen, growth of sea ice around Iceland closed down harbors and shipping, hailstorms and snowstorms were heavy and frequent, and road and water transport was made difficult or impossible. Agricultural failure and consequent starvation and death devastated Europe. The Scandinavian colonies in Greenland starved to death and disappeared.
  2. At some time between 1700AD and 1800AD the cooling trend of the LIA ended and soon thereafter, the the surface temperature reversed into a warming trend to the great delight of the suffering Europeans. By the 1930s, when the sustained warming trend was strong and it was noted that the end of the LIA and the beginning of the warming trend coincided roughly with the change from an agrarian economy with windmills, watermills, and beasts of burden as sources of energy, to an industrial economy with the combustion of coal and other fossil fuels dug up from under the ground providing the energy to drive rapid economic growth.
  3. In a 1938 paper {Callendar, G. (1938). The artificial production of carbon dioxide and its influence on temperature. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society , 64.275}, Guy Stewart Callendar wrote the world’s first AGW (anthropogenic global warming) paper. It is described in some detail in a related post on this site  [LINK] . The Callendar paper lays out the AGW scenario as it is preached by climate scientists today except that Callendar preferred the word “artificial” rather than “anthropogenic” to denote human cause and that the paper does not present the warming as an alarming trend but as a welcome relief from the LIA. The Callendar paper notes that atmospheric CO2 measurements taken at the surface in various parts of the UK and Europe showed a rising trend since 1900 during a time when the industrial economy was burning large quantities of fossil fuels and during a time when temperatures in England and in Europe were showing a warming trend. Callendar tied these three datasets together by (1) attributing rising atmospheric CO2 to the burning of fossil fuels in the rapidly growing industrial economy purely on the basis that both of these time series showed a rising trend and (2) attributing the warming trend to the heat trapping effect of atmospheric CO2 (and water) as described by Arrhenius in his now discredited theory of ice age cycles but applied by Callendar to a much shorter time scale. In his historic paper, Callendar concludes that from 1900 to 1936 fossil fuel emissions drove up atmospheric CO2 by an amount that explains the observed warming trend and that therefore the observed warming trend 1900-1936 is artificial (human caused) by way of fossil fuel combustion of the industrial economy. Interestingly, Callendar computed a climate sensitivity of λ=2 in his paper consistent with Manabe {Manabe, Syukuro, and Richard T. Wetherald. “Thermal equilibrium of the atmosphere with a given distribution of relative humidity.” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 24.3, 1967}, but not consistent with the Charney/IPCC range of 1.5<λ<4.5 or with its 2019 revision by the IPCC to λ=5.
  4. There was some interest in this paper and a few papers followed in support of the Callendar artificial warming hypothesis but interest in this line of research was dampened when the strong warming of the 1900-1940, that had rescued boreal communities from the LIA, reverted to a sustained 30-year cooling trend from the 1940s to the 1970s. The cooling caused a real fear among boreal communities of a return to LIA conditions. The cooling trend, described in a related post  [LINK], discouraged the attempt to explain warming. The salient research paper of this period is Stephen Schneider’s evaluation that fossil fuel emissions contain not only CO2 but also aerosols that can end up in the stratosphere where they can “backscatter” incident solar radiation to cause cooling {Rasool, S. Ichtiaque, and Stephen H. Schneider. “Atmospheric carbon dioxide and aerosols: Effects of large increases on global climate.” Science 173.3992 (1971)}. Schneider’s concern was that the the rate of temperature increase due to CO2 diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; but for aerosols the rate of temperature decrease due to backscatter increases with increasing aerosol concentration of the stratosphere. Because of the exponential dependence of the backscattering, the rate of temperature decrease is augmented with increasing aerosol content. 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 3.5 ° K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger a return to LIA glaciation. Thus at a time of cooling, it could be rationalized that fossil fuel emissions of the industrialized economy can cause cooling which understandably, created fear of a return to LIA conditions.
  5. The cooling ended in the late 1970s and returned to warming in 1979. By 1981, the warming had intensified and this point in time is marked by a significant paper by James Hansen of NASA GISS {Hansen, J. (1981). Climate impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Science , 213.4511}. The Hansen paper brought the CO2 heat trapping argument of Callendar back to life along with the attribution of rising atmospheric CO2 to fossil fuel emissions of the industrial economy; and of the observed warming to the higher CO2 concentration of the atmosphere thus created. But quite unlike the Callendar paper of 1938 that had celebrated the warming in terms of relief from the Little Ice Age and the life giving property of CO2 in terms of photosynthesis, the Hansen paper of 1981 did an about turn in the evaluation of CO2 driven warming and declared Callendar’s “artificial warming” now rephrased as Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) and climate change, as a calamitous Biblical catastrophe that threatened the end the world as we know it with impacts such as sea level rise, floods, droughts, heat waves, superstorms, and wildfires. This assessment sowed the seeds of fear based activism.
  6. The evolution of AGW into a fear mongering device thus initiated accelerated in 1988 with Hansen’s congressional testimony [LINK]  of the horrors of AGW if the use of fossil fuels is not eliminated or drastically reduced and the estimation of a much greater catastrophe in his 1988 paper than in the 1981 paper {Hansen, James, et al. “Global climate changes as forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies three‐dimensional model.” Journal of geophysical research: Atmospheres 93.D8 (1988)}. The year 1988 was also the year that James Hansen presented his Congressional Testimony on the dangers of AGW that gripped his nation and the world with fear of AGW. The year 1988 thus marks the beginning of fear  based climate change activism against fossil fuels based on the proposition that the use of fossil fuels must be eliminated to save the planet [LINK] . This trend is apparent in this list of climate change news items 1980 to 2010 [LINK] .
  7. It was at this point in time that the United Nations, eager to extend its global jurisdiction by defining environmental problems on a global scale, stepped into the climate change arena and seized administrative control of the effort to “tackle” climate change by curtailing global emissions from fossil fuel combustion in a program that has come to be called “climate action”. The UN takeover was facilitated by the existence of the UNEP, the United Nations Environment Program founded in 1972 by global environmentalism visionary Maurice Strong.
  8. The apparent success of the UNEP was presented to the world in terms of its ability to tackle an apparently calamitous ozone depletion crisis of the 1980s with the “Montreal Protocol”. This international agreement to reduce or eliminate human emissions of ozone depleting substances masterminded by the UNEP is credited with saving the world from the harmful effects of anthropogenic ozone depletion. This was the world’s first globally defined environmental issue and the first apparently successful effort by the UNEP in its self described role as a global environmental protection authority.
  9. The ozone depletion chapter of global environmentalism by the UNEP is described in three related posts on this site [LINK][LINK] [LINK] . What is shown in these posts is that there was never any evidence of ozone depletion on a global scale and that the Montreal Protocol and its grand success is a case of first falsely declaring the existence of a non-existent problem and then after the HFC reduction was completed, simply declaring the false problem to have been solved by way of the Montreal Protocol with the UNEP taking the credit for having solved it.
  10. Having tasted great success in the ozone depletion scare with the Montreal Protocol of 1987, and having seen the power of debilitating fear, the UNEP was now poised to take charge of the AGW issue as it had been described by Hansen in his Congressional testimony of 1988 and related research papers.  Describing it broadly as a global environmental crisis that can be addressed only at the global level and therefore only by the United Nations, the role of the United Nations in the extension of its ozone success to the AGW issue is thus established [LINK].
  11. The Montreal Protocol success of the United Nations was driven by an extreme form of fear based activism that can be seen in its historical context described in a related post [LINK]. And yet, as shown in another related post [LINK] , the claimed scientific basis for the fear of human caused ozone depletion is shown to be flawed and without empirical support in the observational data. The success of the ozone depletion scare and the Montreal Protocol therefore established that a sufficient level of fear in fear based activism overcomes weaknesses and flaws in the science that is claimed to validate the basis for the fear.
  12. The UN thus proceeded on this basis to replicate their Montreal Protocol success in climate change with a hastily convened Kyoto Protocol in the model of the Montreal Protocol, to ban the production and use of fossil fuels just as the Montreal Protocol had banned the production and use of Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) that was claimed by scientists to be causing ozone depletion according to the Rowland Molina ozone depletion mechanism described in a related post [LINK] .
  13. However, there is, of course, a big difference between making refrigeration and hairspray somewhat more expensive and overhauling the fossil fueled energy infrastructure that gave us the industrial revolution and the high standard of living we enjoy today compared with the horse and buggy days. The idea that fossil fuels could be replaced with solar and wind power turned out to be superficial and poorly thought out by the UN bureaucrats involved.
  14. Their further bureaucratic errors led to an immensely complicated structure with the countries of the world divided into four different categories each with different climate action obligations that left all developing countries, even large consumers of fossil fuels such as India and China, without any climate action obligation. President Bush of the USA balked at this bureaucratic boondoggle and refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. In response, the UN quietly shelved the Kyoto Protocol and then resurrected it as the UNFCCC.
  15. The UNFCCC contained the same structure as the Kyoto Protocol but in a different political stance such that it gave the UN greater control over its content. The fundamental problem faced by the Kyoto Protocol/UNFCCC proposals, however, was the immensity of the task of removing the source of energy that produced and sustained the “industrial economy” and the high standard of living now enjoyed by humans. This turned out to be a bigger issue than the CFC ban by orders of magnitude – a difference apparently overlooked by the UNEP in its assumption that the Montreal Protocol success could be replicated with its  climate change version in the Kyoto Protocol / UNFCCC. The UN was thus forced to respond to this problem either by down-scaling their demands or by scaling up the fear of climate change to force the fossil fuel issue. They chose the latter.
  16. This is the path that would eventually lead to the transformation of climate science into fear based activism and its gradual escalation until it became necessary to recruit school children as protesters and of the incarnation of Greta Thunberg as their messiah. It is thus that what began with Callendar as relief from the horrors of the Little Ice Age and described as an effect of fossil fuel combustion of the industrial economy as a scientific curiosity without activism and without a call for reduction in emissions to prevent warming, became escalated into fear based activism after the dramatic claims of extreme weather and sea level rise of the Hansen testimony [LINK], derived mostly not from realities of the current interglacial but from what had happened naturally 120,000 years ago in the prior interglacial [LINK] , and yet claimed to be too extreme to be natural and that therefore they were the creation of human activity in terms of fossil fuel emissions of the industrial economy.
  17. When the UN entered the scene to take over Hansen’s call for a ban on fossil fuel emissions, climate change was fully transformed from Callendar’s scientific curiosity to the UN’s ozone-style fear based activism. Faced with failure after failure in the “Conference of Parties” (COP), the UN was forced to raise the fear level and escalate activism until it got to the point when all pretense to science was abandoned and the climate movement was thus thrust into full activism mode.
  18. The Greta phenomenon in climate science is not a validation of its claimed scientific credentials but a validation of the absence of a scientific basis for activism against fossil fuel emissions.



11 Responses to "Evolution of The Climate Scare: Callendar to Greta"

[…] Evolution of The Climate Scare: Callendar to Greta […]

[…] There is a renewed interest in the apparent relationship between surface temperature and the solar cycle implied by the Maunder Minimum in the era of Anthropogenic Global Warming and climate change (AGW) in which proponents say that fossil fuel emissions of the industrial economy have caused atmospheric CO2 to rise and that rise in turn is imposing an artificial and possibly catastrophic rate of warming by way of the long wave absorption property of CO2 [LINK] .  […]

[…] Evolution of The Climate Scare: Callendar to Greta […]

[…] as the world’s EPA, it was poised to take over as the administrator of the Climate scare [Related Post] . With the WMO a UN agency it played a key role in installing the IPCC to provide “objective […]

You make it sound like children are being forced to serve as child soldiers, but the simple fact is that they see their futures and the future of their children being destroyed by greedy corporations crooked politicians, and a media that is all too happy to repeat their lies. They are choosing to take a stand and fight for their future and am proud of my children for doing it. Human created Climate change is a Fact the entire scientific community minus a handful of who are working for organizations that exist solely to confuse the public and lobby for fossil fuel companies agree. anyone can read the documents leaked from Exxon or the fossil fuel funded Global Climate Coalition to know that they knew for a fact that climate change was caused by humans and yet continued to spend millions on a campaign of lies. Anyone with half a mind of their own can easily view the overwhelming proof of climate change and how we are directly at fault.

Thank you for your detailed and well written comment. It gave me a better understanding of climate activism against fossil fuels.


[…] The only historical work that used the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere at the time scale of AGW climate change and did so in the context of the burning of fossil fuels in the industrial economy is Callendar 1938 described in a related post [LINK]. The history from 1938 to the present is summarized here [LINK] […]

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