NY Times mag profile of global warming skeptic uncritically repeats false comparison with '70s global cooling theory

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

A New York Times Magazine profile of global warming skeptic Freeman Dyson quotes without challenge his false suggestion that there was a scientific consensus in the 1970s that the earth was cooling. Unlike the current consensus that global warming exists, there was no consensus in the 1970s that the earth was cooling.

A New York Times Magazine profile of physicist and global warming skeptic Freeman Dyson to be published March 29 allows him to advance the falsehood that there was a scientific consensus in the 1970s that the earth was cooling. In an echo of columnist George Will's recent falsehood-laden column, Dyson dismissed former Vice President Al Gore: "He certainly is a good preacher. ... Forty years ago it was fashionable to worry about the coming ice age. Better to attack the real problems like the extinction of species and overfishing. There are so many practical measures we could take." But the suggestion is false that in the 1970s there was a widespread belief that the earth was cooling that is tantamount to the current global warming consensus. A September 2008 article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (a peer-reviewed publication) investigated the "pervasive myth" that "there was a consensus among climate scientists of the 1970s that either global cooling or a full-fledged ice age was imminent." The article found:

A review of the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979 shows this myth to be false. The myth's basis lies in a selective misreading of the texts both by some members of the media at the time and by some observers today. In fact, emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated the scientific literature even then.

As Media Matters for America has documented, Will has repeatedly advanced the falsehood that in the 1970s, scientists widely believed that the earth was cooling, a falsehood also forwarded by Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III. The Bulletin also noted several other "examples of modern writers perpetuating the myth of the 1970s global cooling scientific consensus."

From the New York Times Magazine article, headlined "The Civil Heretic":

The film [An Inconvenient Truth] ended. "I think Gore does a brilliant job," Dyson said. "For most people I'd think this would be quite effective. But I knew Roger Revelle. He was definitely a skeptic. He's not alive to defend himself."

"All my friends say how smart and farsighted Al Gore is," she said.

"He certainly is a good preacher," Dyson replied. "Forty years ago it was fashionable to worry about the coming ice age. Better to attack the real problems like the extinction of species and overfishing. There are so many practical measures we could take."

"I'm still perfectly happy if you buy me a Prius!" Imme said.

"It's toys for the rich," her husband smiled, and then they were arguing about windmills.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
Person
Nicholas Dawidoff
Show/Publication
The New York Times Magazine
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