Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« A good trick to create a decline | Main | IPCC in trouble again »

Hubert Lamb on ice ages

More from the archives: this is a clipping from the Deseret News of Salt Lake City - the edition of 8th September 1972. It carries details of an interview with Hubert Lamb, the founder of the Climatic Research Unit, in which the great man discusses the impending ice age.

This is interesting because I seem to remember William Connolley writing a paper that said that fears of an impending ice age were largely confined to the press. I guess this is only a newspaper story, but if reputable scientists were spinning baseless scare stories then the poor hacks can hardly be blamed for reporting what was said.

I wonder if this kind of thing is the modus operandi among CRU scientists...


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Source : Bishops Hill In the archive you always can find amazing stuff.

Reader Comments (39)

I wonder if Connelly will try and edit it?

Apr 26, 2010 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Interesting. His confidence in his own predictions makes IPCC AR4 seem wishy-washy in comparison.

Apr 26, 2010 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterDagfinn

I do not have access to the following paper, but it suggests that 'an imminent ice age' was topical in the 1970s:

Willett, H.C. (1974) 'Do Recent Climatic Fluctuations Portend an Imminent Ice Age?', Goefisica International 14, 265-302.

I suspect that back then, computer models were not held in such high esteem as some hold them today, thereby depriving alarmists of an important vehicle for drawing attention to their concerns. Yet if my memory serves me well, there were models back then whose only stable state was a totally ice-covered earth.

Apr 26, 2010 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I have a vivid memory of a sunday times story in about 1976 ish, that was a long and detailed exposition of Sir Fred Hoyle's certainty on the impending ice age.

I seem to remember it also had some lovely photos of his holiday home in the snow bound lake district.


Apr 26, 2010 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSir DigbyCS

Via Wikipedia I found this from "The history of the University of East Anglia, Norwich".

On Lamb: "Within a few years in Norwich...he had switched to waring of global warming...A holocaust within a century was an even more exciting prospect than an ice age in ten millennia and it all helped to shape contemporary attitudes to global warming."

Apr 26, 2010 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterDagfinn

So the CRU have a long history of getting it wrong... In the short term anyway. I think Lamb is nearer the mark than Jones though.

Apr 26, 2010 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Hubert Lamb filmed at least two interviews for Anglia Telivision news at about this time. In the first, as I recall, he was talking about ice ages. In the second, filmed in '75 or' 76 he had changed his views somewhat and talked about warming.
Anglia TV's news film library was handed over to the East Anglian Film archieve at UEA and so the interviews may still be in existence should anyone be interested.

Apr 26, 2010 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndy Smith

'But if reputable scientists were spinning baseless scare stories' -

The trouble is he had no motive to spin, just rashly volunteered a Metoffice-type forecast. Each brief interglacial has so far reverted to a devastating ice advance, the last possibly coming close to wiping out our hominid ancestors.

Apr 26, 2010 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

It doesn't take political pressure or financial incentives, just relatively normal attention-seeking and over-confidence. And the fact that people generally believe that reputable scientists know what they're talking about is precisely what makes it possible for them to present wild speculation as fact and get away with it.

Apr 26, 2010 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterDagfinn

This is a good one:

Martyn Bowden, "Desertification of the Great Plains" 1977

It notes that Reid Bryson, as of 1977, was still eagerly pushing the "Ice Age" scare, but it also notes that:

1) According to Bryson at least, cooling would lead to more precipitation (note that now we are told that the opposite is true - more snow is the effect, apparently, of warmer temps).

2) "Levels of carbon dioxide and other pollutants would have to be greatly increased for any noticeable change to occur leading to ice age conditions"

So according to this author, more carbon dioxide would lead to an ice age!

Apr 26, 2010 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike

He was certainly wrong about the last decades of the 20thC being colder however he was a real scientist & his graph of past temperature, showing the medieval warming was on the button & although ignored by Mann & his Hockey Stick was never disputed on science.

He was father of LudDim MP Norman Lamb.

Apr 26, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

. . . fears of an impending ice age were largely confined to the press.

It is a little rash to leap, as some are doing, from a news report in a US provincial newspaper to an assessment of CRU pioneer Hubert Lamb and to suggest on the basis of this evidence that he was just another climate hack. He wasn’t: he was a decent man and, as a scientist, in a different league to prominent figures who followed him at the UEA.

Note that there is cooling and cooling. In the 1970s, Jim Hansen was one of several at GISS who argued that fossil fuel consumption would lead to a disastrous cooling due, they postulated, to anthropogenically-generated aerosols. As the global temperature trend changed in the late 1970s from cooling to warming, so did their tune but their position was essentially that human activity was the driving force.

Lamb's position here is different. The piece quoted is not a scare story and I see little, if anything, that is baseless in the brief outline of the science.

"Climate changes come in cycles determined by astronomical and physical factors . . . one main cause is the amount of radiation received from the sun."

"We know that the behaviour of the sun changes at intervals and these changes have their effect . . ."
Well, I wouldn’t argue with that. (Some claim that Lamb adopted a more warmist position later but I have not managed to confirm that from a source I’d regard as reliable. I’ve just ordered his “Climate, History and the Modern World” so I hope to find out soon.)

As Neil Craig notes, he was probably the first to advance the notion of the Medieval Warm Period. It is ironic that his successors are trying to airbrush it out of history and, to be fair, almost succeeded.

The notion that the long-term climate trend is to cooling is supported by many well-informed critics of AGW including Peter Taylor (hence the title of his masterful book, “Chill”) and some Russian climatologists.

Apr 26, 2010 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave B

Re: Sir DigbyCS

I also recall clearly Sir Fred Hoyle's articles in Sunday papers. I was a teenager but very interested in geology and science. I have been trying to track down the article(s) (There may have been more tha 1 perhaps?). I had assumed it might have been in the Observer because my parents took that paper at the time, as I recall, but they did change to the Sunday Times at some point.

I seem to remember Fred Hoyle proposing how we could prevent a new ice age by pumping deep ocean water to the surface to warm the air and prevent too much cooling (!).

Apr 26, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Interesting to follow up on Prof Lumb's thoughts.

Found this review paper from a 1983 talk in Stockholm.

Some nice graphs of temps from the MWP to today.


Apr 26, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSir DigbyCS

My favourite populist statement about climate change and environmental disaster is of course:

"The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
Cause London is drowning and I, live by the river"

The Clash, (1979), London Calling

Connolly will have trouble editing that reference away

Apr 26, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

The thing this old article shows is that the press was using people (often the same people) as today as sources for the press coverage of climate.
The question this raises is why the AGW promoters have to be so Orwellian about their history?

Apr 26, 2010 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I have read Lamb's big book on climate history (published in the 70s) and as far as I recall it is quite cautious about both warming and cooling.

Apr 26, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavidB

Why so Orwellian? I guess that if you are in politics, you want to keep your message ('narrative' in PR speak?) simple. Not good to have ifs, buts, and conflicting alarums cluttering your interface with the public. The dramatically increased opportunity for studies on 'fear-creation and management in modern society' is one potentially (if it helps us strengthen our defences) good thing to come out of this era of 'science-based' scares. There have been quite a few, and several seem to have made canny use of 'computer models'. The Club of Rome started quite a ball rolling when it showed how computer models could be used to great effect for PR, and what glory comes to those who bring sombre warnings of catastrophes on the verge of overwhelming us. A rogues gallery of such warnings, paired with what subsequently happened, or rather failed to happen, would make a good poster for every high school science room or computer laboratory.

Apr 26, 2010 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Tim Blair had a few posts earlier this year where he'd revisted old news articles about coming ice ages and the like. I think also WUWT had an interesting couple of articles using a National Geographic temperature series from the 70s (MWP and all).

Apr 26, 2010 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterprm

I remember the "New Ice Age" well. And that the "climate scientists" wanted to spread millions of tons of coal dust on the Arctic ice to reduce its albedo so as to increase the temperature up there with solar heating.

That should be back in about 30 more years. I can see it now, Al Gore Jr. (or perhaps Al Gore III ) demanding that we burn more coal to increase global temperatures so as to prevent the "New Ice Age".

Of course, there will be no mention of the Hockey Stick at that time, much like there is nothing said about the New Ice Age by Al Gore Sr.

Apr 26, 2010 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

On the the East Anglian Film archives at UEA - would those be the same archives which should have housed the data adjustments?

Apr 26, 2010 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

A more sophisticated form of alarm-ism states that global warming initiates the next ice age. Only the more adept climatologists can pull this off, but it neatly covers all possibilities (except the non-alarmist ones).

Apr 26, 2010 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Here is something for Mr Connolley..a quotation from the 1st episode (the new version) of the Prisoner, Said by "2" to "6" on Saturday 17 Apr 2010.."You refuse to open your mind to the possibility that you are wrong"

Keep up the great work and thank you for your wonderful book which I am reading at the moment.

Apr 26, 2010 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW

I think the ruling elite bought into the ice-age scare back in the 70's and we suckers are being played in a double blind. They are doing this because they know a rapidly cooling world will be a troublesome place to live, with starvation and pressure to move south causing disruption and warfare. They want plenty of time to prepare their plans for the survival of their lineage.

Me, I'd like temperature to rise to the levels of the Medieval Climate Optimum, when civilisation spread across the globe and mankind, and the rest of Earth's biosphere, prospered. I really do hate the cold with a vengeance!

Apr 26, 2010 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTenuc

Here is a interesting paragraph from a 1979 paper published in Nature (no less):

"in Grand Pile the change from a temperate to a boreal vegetation occurred over 150 years (+-50%). The accompanying gradual decline in temperate elements would probably now be hardly perceptible to man, because of the artificial management of many european forests. We thus cannot exclude the possibility that we already live at the beginning of the present equivalent of the terminal interglacial pollen zone, and that we are heading towards a relatively fast, perhaps dramatic, 'borealisation' of West European forests which, some 115,000 years ago, took <20 years"

The reference is: Woillard, Geneviève: Abrupt end of the last interglacial s.s. in north-east France. Nature, Volume 281, Issue 5732, pp. 558-562 (1979).

Woillards work on the Grand Pile pollen sequence is still of fundamental importance for European Quaternary Geology, but her (and many other contemporary scientists') worry about an impending ice age has gone quietly down the memory hole.

Apr 26, 2010 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

Hubert Lamb undoubtedly believed there had been a long period of cooling when he wrote his book 'Climate History and the Moderrn World' in 1981 and it was obnvious from his updated forward to this book in 1994 that he had no great belief in AGW.

There was a pile of evidence of global cooling in the 1970's which tends to have been minimised by Connelley in the years since that Lamb wiould have seen at the time. This document from the CIA might have some interest to readers.


Apr 27, 2010 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

Here are some more quotes re ice ages/glaciations, this time from 1974, by Kellogg and Schneider in a paper published in Science (Volume 186, pages 1163 to 1172). This gives a wide-ranging overview, with some emphasis on warming as a concern, including the possible contribution of CO2 . There are clear signs in the article of the delusions of grandeur which have fed into the UN system, and subsequently back and forth into the academic and political worlds, and more recently, greatly amplified by the 'careful' presentation work of the UN's IPCC. But that is an aside, more relevant to studies on how we got to the present stage of trading in carbon indulgences, and other absurdities, not least in the areas of climate legislation and electricity production.

Re climate modelling: '...< the Budyko Sellers model> ...has led to concern over the stability of the earth's climate, since negative changes in energy input of the order of 1 percent of the solar constant could plunge their model climates into an ice age...'

Re geo-engineering to eliminate Arctic sea ice: 'We do not know whether this could start another glaciation of northern Canada and Europe due to the increased snowfall, but this is a definite possibility.'

I think these quotes support the notion that some academics, as well as some journalists, were exercised about the possibility of a new glaciation, or at least of a new 'little ice age'. The fact that our present, nicely warm, interglacial is getting on in years did not help calm their troubled minds.

Snowfall leading to glaciations was one of the scare stories back in the 70s when it was realised that what is popularly known as an ice age would not occur with ice sheets sliding slowly down from the north. All it would need is for the winter snows never to melt. I recall some writers getting agitated about snow patches lingering a little longer than they thought usual into the spring...

Apr 27, 2010 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I posted this on a couple of sites a while ago:,4007344&dq=Experiment&hl=en

The decline of prevailing temperatures since about 1945 appears to be the longest-continued downward trend since temperature records began. says Professor Hubert H Lamb of the University of East Anglia in Great Britain.

Apr 27, 2010 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterunknownknowns


Why not get Hoyle's book "Ice: The Ultimate Human Catastrophe" (1981)? It's on Amazon right now.

Apr 27, 2010 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Cooper

Lots of info out there on cooling.

From the NOAA archives:

My summary:

1972 - Kukla-Mathews publishes in Science, an article about the end of the current inter glacial. Also writes a letter to Nixon in 1972, specifically warning about global cooling.
1973 - First Climate office started in Feb 1973 (ad hoc Panel on the Present Inter Glacial). This was after a meeting of 42 of the most prominent climatologists, and apparently there was consensus about cooling. Especially as the NOAA, NWS and ICAS were involved.
1974 - Office of Climate Dynamics opened.
1978 -Carter signs Climate Program Act, partly due to the SEVERE WINTER experienced the preceding winter.

From a UNESCO meeting in 1961, published in 1963. The meetings discussed cooling, and its implications on the world. Some 115 scientists from 36 countries took part in the symposium. The following is from the wrap up speech.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the evidence presented by Dr. Murray Mitchell, Dr. Rodewald and some of the other speakers is the way in which it falls into a pattern. Not only air temperature, but also subtropical rainfall, the tendency of hurricanes to move along certain tracks or seasurface temperatures, show a reversal of the preceding [warming] climatic trend during the last one or two decades. The true physical signiñcance of Dr. Murray Mitchell’s result lies perhaps in the combined evidence, based on so many different variables.

it has been extremely difficult by this means to avoid the conclusion that the warming trends [up to the 1940s] for the world as a whole, and for the Northern Hemisphere in particular, are truly planetary in scope. On the other hand, it cannot yet he demonstrated in this way beyond a reasonable doubt that the net cooling since the 1940s has likewise been planetary in scope. That this cooling is of such nature, however, seems reasonable and this should be verifiable if the cooling in the data areas were to continue for another decade or two in the future.

<I>All authors have been able to show, by using records dating back to the end of the eighteenth century that the warming up of large parts of the world from the middle of the nineteenth century until recently has been statistically significant. However, as pointed out especially by J. M. Mitchell and also shown for sea temperatures by M. Rodewald this increase in temperature has recently declined."

Apr 27, 2010 at 7:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

More past predictions that, er, didn't quite turn out, here:

Apr 29, 2010 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterprm

Connolly is full of crap if he says it was just the press. Look in the mid-1970s Chicago Tribune archives. I am certain that their big multi-page articles about ice ages to come were by the Trib Science Editor at the time, though his name now slips my mind.

I had never heard of Woods Hole or the University of East Anglia until I read about them in the Trib, pushing the imminent ice age several times.

When I started hearing about global warming and that it was coming from UEA, I could hardly stop laughing: One of the UEA Sky Is Falling programs didn't work, so they went completely to the other end of the spectrum? What a JOKE! That was the first real clue I had that AGW wasn't real - because it came out of the same university that had pushed the coming ice age.

And Woods Hole is the origination point of the "Day After Tomorrow" Atlantic Conveyor Belt manure pile.

How could I specifically remember UEA, if it was only MSM journos pushing that story? My memories about this are VERY clear.

May 1, 2010 at 7:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterFeet2theFire

What's really juicy about this is that one of the defenses of the predictions of a New Ice Age is that the timescales were sufficiently far off that warming in the interim was still expected. This shows that this obvious BS is indeed obvious BS. Specifically saying that the next two centuries, from then, would see cooling, is totally incompatible with warming in the twenty first century.

Of course, given the magnitude of their projections for warming in the last century, there is simply no way that we'd get down to an Ice Age afterward for quite some time. These to projections can't be reconciled, but people still claim they can :Twilight Zone Music:

May 4, 2010 at 3:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

April 1977, front page of Time magazine said; "How to Survive the coming Ace Age". Picture of a penguin sorrounded by ice.

Here is a story;

When they saw the reactions from this, I'm sure they learned something.....?;

Like for eksample;

-Models can predict scary outcomes. (of course)
-Scary outcomes can be documented as a peer reviewed paper.
-These peer reviewed papers can be called Science
-These papers can be fed to the media and can produce scary news.
-Scary news can get you more Grants.


May 4, 2010 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterkwik

i'm so thrilled that i saw this website. that article was so nice. thanks again i added the rss on this blog.
are you going to write similar articles?

May 16, 2010 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterGewinne

Salute this stuff is nicely written are you a pro author ? Maybe i could book you to compose for me?

Jun 30, 2010 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterheropoimept

there is always something interesting on this blog

Sep 8, 2010 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterLivEseXcam

All things are difficult before they are easy-buy replica Tods Leisure Shoes

Sep 19, 2011 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered Commenterbuy replica Tods Leisure Shoes

The previous 4 posts are spam !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sep 19, 2011 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreathe of Fresh Air

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>