Tag Archives: Nature

July 4th, 1996 – that ‘discernible’ influence of climate change again

In the middle of the confected ‘controversy’ about the second assessment report of the IPCC, [fossil-funded denialists smearing Ben Santer]  various scientists, including Santer himself, point out some inconvenient facts….

In the July 4 1996 issue of Nature, Benjamin Santer, K.E. Taylor, Tom M.  Wigley, and ten other researchers published an article that concluded: “The observed spatial patterns of temperature change in the free atmosphere from 1963 to 1987…are similar to those predicted by state-of-the-art climate models…  It is likely that this trend is partially due to human activities,…

Gelbspan, R. (1998) Page 220

June 28, 2007 – Nature publishes article on Darfur and climate change

Experts criticize UN view of Sudan conflict

A United Nations (UN) report claiming that “climate change, land degradation and the resulting competition over scarce natural resources are among the root causes” of the Darfur conflict has been met with scepticism by experts on the region. Although these factors contributed, they say, the UN overstates the case.

See Thomas Homer-Dixon on this – Darfur’s climate roots challenged

Feb 1, 2007: Jeremy Grantham’s “Rant on Oil Dependency, Global Warming, and a Love of Feel-Good Data”

“Jeremy Grantham, chairman of a Boston-based fund management company, in his quarterly letter to clients includes a commentary on the United States’ policy toward climate change, particularly that of the current administration. One of Grantham’s clients happens to be Vice President Dick Cheney. In his piece, titled “While America Slept, 1982-2006: A Rant on Oil Dependency, Global Warming, and a Love of Feel-Good Data,” Grantham writes, ;Successive US administrations have taken little interest in either oil substitution or climate change and the current one has even seemed to have a vested interest in the idea that the science of climate change is uncertain.’”

From here

Grantham has kept it up. In November 2012 he wrote another piece, in Nature,  that is well worth your time – “Be persuasive. Be brave. Be arrested (if necessary)

Even more context: The question of why businesses that are going to be affected by climate change (as in, all of them) haven’t been more active on the climate issue is an interesting one. See, for example, Jeremy Leggett’s The Carbon War on the (too) weak efforts of the insurance industry before and after the Berlin COP of 1995 in the face of fossil fuel/automobile interests (Global Climate Coalition, the Climate Council). See also Guy Pearse’s “High and Dry”. Pearse had wondered why non-fossil business interests (insurance, but also agriculture, tourism etc) were not more active in Australian climate politics. His PhD on this topic formed the basis of his excellent book “High and Dry”, which is essential reding for anyone who wants ot understand how Australia got into such a horrific mess…

Other things that happened on this day:

1989 Colloquium on Global Change and International law: The Greenhouse Effect, University of Colorado School of Law

2005 Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: A Scientific Symposium on Stabilisation of Greenhouse Gases”

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

Jan 26, 1978: Paper “West Antarctic ice sheet and C02 greenhouse effect: a threat of disaster”

jan26mercerOn January 26th 1978 the journal Nature carried a cheerful little paper entitled West Antarctic ice sheet and C02 greenhouse effect: a threat of disaster” by JH Mercer [Nature Vol 271, p 321-5.]


As with the January 1st post, we’ve known about this for a long time. Yes, it took some time for the signal to emerge from the noise, but the signal has been there for 20 years. And we’ve “chosen” (with a little help from our friends in the fossil fuel industries) not to see or hear.

Gillis, J. and Chang, K. (2014) Scientists warn of Rising Oceans from Polar Melt New York Times. May 12.

“The new finding appears to be the fulfilment of a prediction made in 1978 by an eminent glaciologist, John H. Mercer of the Ohio State University. He outlined the vulnerable nature of the West Antarctic ice sheet and warned that the rapid human-driven release of greenhouse gases posed “a threat of disaster.” He was assailed at the time, but in recent years, scientists have been watching with growing concern as events have unfolded in much the way Dr. Mercer predicted. (He died in 1987.)”

James Hansen cites what he calls the “John Mercer effect” in his essay on “Scientific Reticence.”

“I suspect the existence of what I call the `John Mercer effect’. Mercer (1978) suggested that global warming from burning of fossil fuels could lead to disastrous disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet, with a sea level rise of several meters worldwide. This was during the era when global warming was beginning to get attention from the United States Department of Energy and other science agencies. I noticed that scientists who disputed Mercer, suggesting that his paper was alarmist, were treated as being more authoritative.”


See also:

Lonnie Thompson

Bowen, M. (2005) Thin Ice: Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World’s Highest Mountains


Other things that happened on this day:

1990 Lewis Mumford dies

2011 Kevin Trenberth  presentationCommunicating Climate Change: In Honor of Stephen Schneider,” presented at the 91st American Meteorological Society Meeting Special Session on Promoting Climate Change Information and Communication of Climate Change, Seattle, WA, 26 January 2011. Powerpoint Presentation, PDF (“We request that you ask the author’s permission to use any materials from the Presentation”).

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.