My perspective on Climate change #15 ‘But what about the precautionary principle?’

I was at a dinner once where one of the guests gave vent to his objections to genetically modified foods, on the grounds that he didn’t want to eat chemicals. I’ve forgotten what we were eating, and our hostess pointed out quickly that her bill of fare contained no synthetic or other ‘tampered with’ food. I stayed out of that one, but I did wonder what the complainer knew of chemistry. Everything we eat, and indeed everything that we are, is a complex of chemicals. Human beings have  become quite skilful at determining the nature of some chemicals, and creating new compounds that work well for us. Our bodies can’t tell whether a chemical is ‘natural’ or ‘synthetic’. The dogs we prize and the sheep that produce wool or meat or both, are all the products of genetic engineering by humans (and a bit of random choice as well.

The current fashion for ‘organic’ food, that which hasn’t experienced nasty chemical pesticides in its growth and envelopment, is another example of the same attitude, common among environmentalists and Greens. A glance at the appearance of the ‘organic’ offerings in comparison with the rest, in a well-stocked fruit-and-vegetable stall suggest, to me at least, that the organic stuff is a poor substitute. A wider attitude is the obsession with the ‘precautionary principle’ (pp), a notion that has become part of our law in some jurisdictions in Australia and overseas.

It achieved fame as part of the Rio Declaration in 1992, where it was expressed as the 15th Principle, like this:

15. In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

I’ve written about it before in no less than a dozen essays (just go to the magnifying glass icon on the top right of the screen and type in ‘precautionary principle’). I think that it is a piece of intellectual sleight of hand, and should not be taken seriously by anyone. Its origin may lie in Pascal’s wager about the importance of believing in God: if you believe and there is no God, then no great harm has been done; but if you don’t believe, and there is a God, then you risk an eternity in hell. Pascal hadn’t thought about the possibility that there might be Allah instead of God.

The core of the pp is that a decent scare is enough. Who is to decide whether or not the scare is real, or half-baked, or non-existent? In democracies governments are affected a good deal by what the electorate thinks about things, and if the electorate is scared, then governments need to do something, or lose office to a rival party that promises to deal with it. So the pp is a political device, not a piece of worked-out philosophy or law.

A rational elector will do her best to find out what the nature of the scare is, before elevating the scare into an electoral/political issue. To do that she needs to move past the language of the principle and assess both risks and the benefits. With respect to global warming, she would want to see whether warming came without benefits of any kind, and whether the costs of the proposed action were in keeping with the risk.

In fact, the gentle warming of the last century has come with improved food production and a perceptible greening of the planet. The forecast downside is said to be more and more warming, which might finally bring unacceptable changes to human societies. The proposed costs of, say, a carbon tax can be measured, and might seem tolerable. But then one has to see whether or not the costs will produce the desired outcomes. As is plain to anyone who does the arithmetic, no amount of carbon tax will produce a discernible reduction in global temperature. A carbon tax of any size, therefore, will not be ‘cost-effective’ (that is, it will be costly but not effective), and therefore will fail Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration. The forecast doom is based largely on computer models’ projections of future climate states, notwithstanding that climate models have been spectacularly wrong about exactly the relationship of greenhouse gas emissions and warming that is at the heart of the issue. What then is the real risk of anthropogenic global warming? In my view it is quite small for the foreseeable future, and quite unknown for the long term.

All in all, the precautionary principle is not a great help to the rational citizen. As a commenter pointed out on one of my essays, if we took the pp really seriously we might never get out of bed in the morning, because once we did cars could crash, lightning strike us, food poisoning occur, and all — much safer to stay in bed. On the other hand, if we stayed in bed we wouldn’t do any exercise, which would be bad for us in other ways. We would obviously have to assess the risks and benefits of each action. Proverbs illuminate the puzzle: ‘look before you leap’ is countered by ‘he who hesitates is lost’. Both axioms are sensible in particular circumstances, but not in all. You have to think first, then choose.

Aaron Wildavsky calls this the empirical side of the question (in a fine book I will refer to in at least two more essays: But is it TRUE? A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Health and Safety Issues). There is a moral side to it as well. Wildavsky writes:

The moral issue is: what norm states that health is the only value or even the dominant value? Emphasizing a single value, to which all others must be subordinated, is a sign of fanaticism. Whatever happened to other values? How much is a marginal gain in health worth compared with losses in other values such as freedom, justice and excellence?

In terms of global warming, why is reducing greenhouse gas emissions more important than raising standards of living, which are positively correlated with longer lives and better health for whole populations?

Here is the single-issue problem at its most obvious. Climate Botherers are convinced that climate is the most important issue facing everybody, whether or not they realise it. But there are other values as well — the people’s standard of living, their health, the nature of their democracy, their capacity to live a full and meaningful life, and so on. What if the Climate Botherers are wrong? What if the warming we are having is useful and beneficial? What if fossil fuels are a precious gift that has enabled human populations to grow and live better lives?

Shouldn’t questions like these be asked from the beginning? I’ll finish with another piece of Wildavsky.

The precautionary principle is a marvellous piece of rhetoric. It places the speaker on the side of the citizen — I am acting for your health — and portrays opponents of the contemplated ban or regulation as indifferent or hostile to the public’s health. The rhetoric works in part because it assumes what actually should be proved, namely, that the the health effects of the actions in view will be superior to the alternative.

Ignore the Precautionary Principle as a life rule, and speak against it when you encounter it — that is my advice.

Join the discussion 48 Comments

  • spangled drongo says:

    And good advice it is, Don.

    It’s all about being rational.

    We evolved to where we are now by making good judgements based on observation, knowledge and possibilities.

    The possibilities are mainly the province of the bookmakers.

    The PP is the darling of the duplicitous.

  • David says:

    “What then is the real risk of anthropogenic global warming? In my view it is quite small for the foreseeable future, and quite unknown for the long term.”

    Agree, if we could be certain that Don Aitkin, citizen climate scientist, was correct in his analysis of AGW then of course we should not take any action on AGW.
    However, the time I checked the overwhelming consensus from scientists who actually have a relevant qualification in climate science and or data analysis of any sort, was that AGW does have some validity. The PP simply offers a coherent and rational strategy for decision making under conditions of uncertainty.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Yes, you could rely on the ‘overwhelming consensus’, though that has been critically analysed here, without your showing what if anything was wrong with the analysis. You could show how DA was wrong about AGW. But you don’t. You just wave your hands…

      • JimboR says:

        “without your showing what if anything was wrong with the analysis”

        Actually I seem to recall he did exactly that, from memory quite effectively. I remember thinking at the time that David had pretty much blown that essay out of the water. No doubt he finds it much harder with the current restrictions placed on his postings. I’m staggered that anyone thinks this blog is a better place without David’s contribution. What ever happened to that Karl Popper quote at the top of the page?

        • margaret says:

          Complete agreement.

        • gnome says:

          I’d be happy to agree with you Jimbo, except that all David ever did was pretend that there is some non-specific consensus that says the world will come to an end if we don’t subscribe to a hypothesis of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
          No matter what the individual point raised, the answer was there is a consensus and no-one may dissent from the consensus. How can debate mean anything if the answer is always the same, and no-one can ever advance from his accepted wisdom?
          I genuinely believe David is probably autistic. It isn’t his fault, but that doesn’t mean his comments are contributions.

          • margaret says:

            I think there are commenters here who are on the spectrum but I wouldn’t say David is one of them.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          For those who care, the essay in question is at

          In it I argued that each of the papers purporting to show that 97 per cent of [all] [climate] [scientists] thought that human activity had caused global warming was wrong, and I gave abundant evidence. There were 265 comments on that essay, of which David’s contribution was disproportionately large. There is nowhere in there that he displayed any capacity to argue that I was wrong. In his most substantial comment he simply repeated what Cook et al had said, and gave the opinion that the authors were correct. I have no idea what Jimbo is talking about.

          It was this post that convinced me that something had to change. Much of the commenting was simply irrelevant to the matter of the essay, and that can happen when one or to commenters have free reign to say whatever they like, and are prepared to spend inordinate amount of time in doing so. My own time to moderate the website is limited.

          The new rule was that a commenters were obliged to restrict themselves to no more than three comments per day (a common practice). David was asked to provide at least one substantial contribution for each two one-liners. He has found this difficult, no matter how many times I point out what the rules are. Eventually, I restricted him to one comment an essay. He feels he has been badly treated.

          Readers are likely to differ about whether the quality of the website has declined because David’s contributions are fewer in number.

          And Karl Popper was talking about intellectual disagreement, not hand-waving.

          • JimboR says:

            Don, I can’t quite decide whether your treatment of David is censorship or not. A charitable view would be that your cognitive bias has led you to classify David’s intellectual disagreement as hand-waving and that you’re simply trying to limit hand-waving. I find far more hand-waving in your own essays and comments than I do in any of David’s, no doubt reflecting my own cognitive bias, but the point is hand-waving is in the eye of the beholder.

            A less charitable view would be that David’s ability to regularly blow big holes in your arguments and point out blaring inconsistencies in your positions, really gets under your skin so you’ve decided to censor him. Of course your “I’m not stopping him from starting his own blog” (paraphrased) defence is silly, and if anything makes me more suspicious of your motives. Nobody is suggesting you’re censoring all his avenues, the discussion is about censorship in this blog.

            I can certainly sympathise with your “limited time for moderation” situation. Unlike the rest of us, you do need to read everything posted here. I find the three-posts-per-day rule entirely reasonable and I would have thought goes along way to helping with your time constraints. The additional one-of-these-for-every-two-of-those rule applied to David seems counterproductive in that regard. Presumably David’s one-liners take up much less moderation time than some of the missives we see here (like this one!)

            One reason I find the three-posts-per-day rule generous enough is that I have a large do-not-bother-to-read list for many of your contributors, so I’m never even tempted to respond. I daresay many of your readers agree with your views on David’s contributions, so the solution for them is simple… don’t read his comments.

          • JimboR says:

            Oh, and there’s almost an infinite amount of hand-waving from most of your contributors. That’s the main reason most of them ended up on my do-not-bother-to read list. Against my better judgement, I just did a quick scan of some of them and see that situation hasn’t improved at all.

            If you are going to implement a no-hand-waving policy, shouldn’t it apply equally to all contributors rather than just the ones that don’t agree with you? You keep telling us the same rules apply to all here. (Although don’t do it on my account, because I’ve already implemented my own policy filter).

          • Don Aitkin says:


            Thank you for the defence, but you miss the point. David has written about 1400 of the 9000 comments that have been sent to this website in the last four years — far more than me or anyone else. Most of them have been empty of content. He finds ways of distracting whatever the issue is by nitpicking, sending the discussion down a new path, or finding inconsistencies, poor use of words, contradictions, or other textual gotchas to point out. They’re usually trivial. These are the weapons of the internet troll. That is why he has been given special treatment. Anyone else who behaves like that will get the same treatment.

            And did you go back to see what he actually wrote in the essay you referred to? I like data and argument, and the essay was full of it, drawn mostly from others, who showed why those three articles about 97 per cent consensus were valueless. If David or you or anybody else wants to disagree, you have to show how the critics were wrong in what they said, not simply repeat what Cook said.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “The PP simply offers a coherent and rational strategy for decision making under conditions of uncertainty.”

      Davey, that is exactly what it doesn’t do. The PP is such an incredibly broad brush that it covers every precaution imaginable and that is why we need people like Bjorn Lomborg to critically examine and C/B analyse every possible solution. You mustn’t have noticed the proposed cost of solutions from some of your “overwhelming consensuals” which, if nothing else, reflects on your claim of their “relevant qualification”.

      While we are not yet halfway through the green zone of the acknowledged 2c harmless increase [and the greater part of that is natural climate variability anyway], bankrupting ourselves is not a smart precaution when it is quite possibly a non-problem.

    • dlb says:

      Well if Flannery whose speciality is fossils can be a spokesman for climate science then I can’t see why Don can’t be a critic of the same discipline.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      David, since there is not only consensus, but absolute certainty, that the San Andreas fault will move, devastating areas of Southern California, should it be evacuated ‘just in case’?

    • Boxer says:

      The reason why many of us are sceptical about the “scientific consensus” is not because we are qualified climate scientists who know better, but because we were taught at an early age that the science on any topic is never “settled”, there is very rarely, if ever, “consensus”, and every theory, however well supported, is open to question.
      Furthermore, if you look at the formal role of the IPCC, it unambiguously states that the organisation will consider human induced climate change. In doing so, and excluding naturally occurring influences upon climate (which have caused climate change since the existence of a climate), the IPCC can only claim to be, at best, to be a scientific advocacy organisation. However it is one that advocates for a predetermined result, not for science as a discipline. In this context, the term “scientific advocacy organisation” is an oxymoron. No one needs to be climate scientist to understand that.

    • JAC says:

      I can sense (practically see ) a superior smirk on your face as you write that. Your comment goes to the very heart of the problem here. Firstly, your immediate response is an ad hominem. Don Aitken, citizen climate scientist (snigger) versus all those clever people who know something. Have you noticed in your haste to set that little bon mot down, that you have actually missed the point?
      The issue is the Precautionary Principle.
      It is used as argument by authority by people – such as yourself – as a device to avoid advancing a rational argument for a case. It is not a strategy for decision making in uncertainty. For that you need a plan. There are four steps to making a plan. The first is to establish the aim. The aim is simple and singular. It is the essence of what must achieved. There can be limitations to the aim (time, resources available etc.) which affect the factors which will shape the plan. Then come the courses open to you. Once all the available courses are tested against the aim, a plan can be determined. It will have had uncertainty minimised and will match the aim against known resources and limitations. Something that any risk analysis seeks to do. Anything else is draping obfuscation on ignorance.
      And ignorance is never an impediment to forming an opinion.
      Incidentally, your comment about overwhelming consensus from scientists contains an assumption that leads to a fundamental error. Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is factual. A lot of your scientists are right. The Earth is warming, although we seem to be going through a pause right now. What is contentious, and what the PP is applied to is the Catastrophic bit (CAGW). On this there is substantially less consensus, both on the impact of human activity against the natural progression out of a cyclical climate event and the benefit of spending billions of dollars in attempting to overcome Nature by halting any warming.
      I can recall who send you cannot use reason to persuade a man from an opinion he formed without reason.

    • NameGlenM says:

      Oh Dear,such gullibility.Appeals to authority without question.Reality dictates otherwise.

    • michael says:

      There is an interesting piece at WUWT that empahsises the nonsense of 97% consensus.
      While I am at it the Greens and other sycophants should answer the conundrum of the genetically modified rice being tested in Chine that virtually eliminates the very large contribution to methane emissions emanaitng from wet rice paddies which also increases yields – win/win so far as I can see.

  • Alan Gould says:

    Thanks Don,
    My brother-in-law whose work is food security and who has worked in the area of GM puts it simply. “Repudiation of GM is starvation to hungry countries.”
    I think, Spangled Drongo, you are a bit hard on ‘possibilities’. Humans have evolved by observing, accruing knowledge, and IMAGINING, and it is that imagining which is the province of possibility. The important point to recognise, I reckon, is that imagining is inalienable from the other parts of thinking, the reasoning, calculating, remembering, and that these parts have great intimacy in how they combine.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Yes, Alan, I should have at least mentioned the insurance companies plus punters and gamblers because we take a gamble on all possibilities and even on many probabilities.

      Taking precautions in life varies across the full spectrum of possibilities and fully tests the imagination, like you say. What we do WRT the PP in today’s cli-sci is to maybe pay the equivalent of the value of the house each year in insurance premium for a possible non-risk.

      Not clever.

  • whyisitso says:

    Yes I totally agree that the pp is an unintelligent “principle”, and enjoyed reading this post.

    Unfortunately I’m also a grumpy old man (I made it into 1938 by a few days before Ieaving the womb). The use in your seventh paragraph of the female pronoun to denote both sexes really irritated me. I know it’s done quite a bit these days, but mainly by people of the ilk of the current Australian of the Year. For generations the generically-used male pronoun denoted both sexes (I refuse to use the word gender, which is simply a grammatical word used in the non-English languages).

    • Don Aitkin says:

      I’m on a hiding to nothing whatever I do, aren’t I. I usually write ‘he or she’ when I know I can use the plural ‘their’ for a plural. Then sometimes I use ‘she’ just to be different. If I use ‘he’ I get slammed for patriarchy.

      • margaret says:

        No, patriarchy is not about gender. That’s a misconception. It’s a structure put in place by the holders of power who happened to be of the male gender. It’s of benefit to both men and women to dismantle patriarchal systems. Most men are as disadvantaged under this system as women are.

      • gnome says:

        There was a time I used (s)he and his/her but now I find “zhe” and “hir” quite useful. I especially like “hir”. Try saying it a few different ways and you will find it enjoyable as well as useful.

  • spangled drongo says:

    They just don’t get that there are any holes in their PP argument:

  • Lenny says:

    I find myself agreeing with you in regards to the PP applied to climate change.

    PP sounds good until to put $$$ against the issue and opportunity costs. I normally argue so how many nurses will that cost or how many staving children can we help for that money.

    Life is all about choices and opportunity costs, we can not afford to do every thing.

  • Neville says:

    The pp is just more silly nonsense. It looks likely that first world countries will waste trillions of $ until 2040 and Co2 emissions will still rise by 34%. See the May 2016 EIA report. The mitigation of their so called CAGW is the greatest fraud in history, yet very few people have the nerve to call it out.

    Labor and the Greens have lied about how they are fighting CAGW and hardly anyone has the nerve to say anything sensible to rebut their lies. Why is it so?

  • dlb says:

    Well the British just threw the pp out the window.

  • Malcolm says:

    In the past politicians realised that there were competing demands for policies and money which could save lives – medical treatment with new drugs and devices, medical research to find new cures, road safety regulations to save lives there, as well as occupational health and safety, and environmental controls. All could save lives, but the costs to save a life in the various areas varied enormously. So they brought in regulatory impact assessments, which contained cost-benefit analyses, and allowed better cost comparisons across the policy areas. Unfortunately for green activists, their favourite policies turned out to be very very expensive compared to other policy areas. So they invented the precautionary principle to try to undermine rational analysis with emotional propaganda.
    A similar thing has been done within the area of cost-benefit analysis by simple-minded road safety enthusiasts. Standard methods to value a life didn’t support the more expensive initiatives like lowering speed limits for everyone, rather than just targeting extreme speedsters. So they managed to pervert the process by using “willingness to pay” valuations, which allow the value of a life to be increased by many multiples but are completely inappropriate in this policy setting. The Bureau of Transport Economics said so baldly. However the anti-car activists actually succeeded in getting this atrociousness into the current national road safety strategy, which has been signed off by naive and economically illiterate politicians, at the cost of lives elsewhere.

  • gnome says:

    I’m a belt and braces man when it comes to safety. The days when someone goes to work uncertain whether zhe will come home again are over. If an enterprise can’t guarantee a safe healthy workplace then it should be run out of business. It doesn’t deserve to have any employees. And I don’t scoff at Murphy’s Law as a bit of comedy either. What can go wrong will go wrong. Count on it.

    If any manager thinx hir enterprise is inherently dangerous and zhe shouldn’t be prosecuted for injury or death of employees, let hir do the work. Zhe takes the profit, zhe should take the risk. I don’t think it will be quite as dangerous after that principle applies, as it was before. Nothing else takes precedence.

    But global warming? So far it seems to me the only likely effects are beneficial. If you place everything we use, eat, make, transport or enjoy on one side of the cost/benefit equation, and the remote possibility of some obscure risk on the other there doesn’t seem to be much doubt where the balance lies.

    And yes- I am willing to put myself in the position of taking that risk.

  • margaret says:

    So the precautionary principle is basically – ‘to err on the side of caution’.
    I like it more than ‘fools rush in’.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      But ‘caution’ applies to both sides of the proposition, as do the rushing fools. Don’t rush to adopt something as a guiding principle till you have examined both sides of the issue. You think a carbon tax is a good idea? Will it reduce warming? It won’t? Why then should we adopt it? Is there some other beneficial consequence? What is it?

      That seems to me the proper cautionary way to proceed.

      • margaret says:

        That makes sense but there’s another pp and that’s the Peter Principle. In any hierarchy individuals can and do rise to their level of incompetence.

        • spangled drongo says:

          “In any hierarchy individuals can and do rise to their level of incompetence.”

          Very true, Margaret. As PH says:

          “The principles of open markets and immigration have not been discredited by the experience of Britain or the US or France or other countries in Europe. It’s a failure of management, not principle.”

          Management applying the wrong principles at the wrong time and not understanding the right ones.

  • Neville says:

    I would have thought that most kids stop believing in Santa, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny by the age of ten. But how do we get silly donkeys to stop believing in nonsense like the mitigation of their CAGW?
    The maths about mitigation and our climate history or human wellbeing or deaths from extreme weather events, or SLR or Greenland/ Antarctic warming, or booming polar bear numbers or droughts or floods or our GREENING planet or …….. since 1900 or 1950 couldn’t be easier to understand. But then again it took Harry Markopolas nearly 10 years to expose the Madoff Ponzi scheme fraud. Of course Harry understood the fraud after a cursory 5 minutes glance at the numbers. But the best brains?????? in the US SEC refused to budge.

  • spangled drongo says:

    No PPs required for the weather today. The King Parrots here are flying around calling “Frossit, Frossit”, Alberts blowing my eardrums out, the sun is shining and I can see for 200 km [snow clouds on the Granite Belt?].

    Is that -5c in Canberra I see?

  • spangled drongo says:

    Thanks, Neville. But I slipped up as usual. As a precaution I had to go and cut some wood.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Just a few news items from the recent past with a slightly different twist. Imagine if we had followed the required PPs involved in this lot, Davey boy.

    We should always remember the more things change the more they stay the same. It’s called the sandwich-board syndrome:

    1970 – Colder Winters Herald Dawn of New Ice Age – Scientists See Ice Age In the Future (The Washington Post, January 11, 1970)
    1970 – Is Mankind Manufacturing a New Ice Age for Itself? (L.A. Times, January 15, 1970)
    1970 – New Ice Age May Descend On Man (Sumter Daily Item, January 26, 1970)
    1970 – Pollution Prospect A Chilling One (Owosso Argus-Press, January 26, 1970)
    1970 – Pollution’s 2-way ‘Freeze’ On Society (Middlesboro Daily News, January 28, 1970)
    1970 – Cold Facts About Pollution (The Southeast Missourian, January 29, 1970)
    1970 – Pollution Could Cause Ice Age, Agency Reports (St. Petersburg Times, March 4, 1970)
    1970 – Pollution Called Ice Age Threat (St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 1970)
    1970 – Dirt Will .Bring New Ice Age (The Sydney Morning Herald, October 19, 1970)
    1971 – Ice Age Refugee Dies Underground (The Montreal Gazette, Febuary 17, 1971)
    1971 – U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming (The Washington Post, July 9, 1971)
    1971 – Ice Age Around the Corner (Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1971)
    1971 – New Ice Age Coming – It’s Already Getting Colder (L.A. Times, October 24, 1971)
    1971 – Another Ice Age? Pollution Blocking Sunlight (The Day, November 1, 1971)
    1971 – Air Pollution Could Bring An Ice Age (Harlan Daily Enterprise, November 4, 1971)
    1972 – Air pollution may cause ice age (Free-Lance Star, February 3, 1972)
    1972 – Scientist Says New ice Age Coming (The Ledger, February 13, 1972)
    1972 – Scientist predicts new ice age (Free-Lance Star, September 11, 1972)
    1972 – British expert on Climate Change says Says New Ice Age Creeping Over Northern Hemisphere (Lewiston Evening Journal, September 11, 1972)
    1972 – Climate Seen Cooling For Return Of Ice Age (Portsmouth Times, ?September 11, 1972?)
    1972 – New Ice Age Slipping Over North (Press-Courier, September 11, 1972)
    1972 – Ice Age Begins A New Assault In North (The Age, September 12, 1972)
    1972 – Weather To Get Colder (Montreal Gazette, ?September 12, 1972?)
    1972 – British climate expert predicts new Ice Age (The Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1972)
    1972 – Scientist Sees Chilling Signs of New Ice Age (L.A. Times, September 24, 1972)
    1972 – Science: Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, November 13, 1972)
    1973 – The Ice Age Cometh (The Saturday Review, March 24, 1973)
    1973 – Weather-watchers think another ice age may be on the way (The Christian Science Monitor, December 11, 1973)
    1974 – New evidence indicates ice age here (Eugene Register-Guard, May 29, 1974)
    1974 – Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, June 24, 1974)
    1974 – 2 Scientists Think ‘Little’ Ice Age Near (The Hartford Courant, August 11, 1974)
    1974 – Ice Age, worse food crisis seen (The Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1974)
    1974 – Believes Pollution Could Bring On Ice Age (Ludington Daily News, December 4, 1974)
    1974 – Pollution Could Spur Ice Age, Nasa Says (Beaver Country Times, ?December 4, 1974?)
    1974 – Air Pollution May Trigger Ice Age, Scientists Feel (The Telegraph, ?December 5, 1974?)
    1974 – More Air Pollution Could Trigger Ice Age Disaster (Daily Sentinel – ?December 5, 1974?)
    1974 – Scientists Fear Smog Could Cause Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 5, 1974)
    1975 – Climate Changes Called Ominous (The New York Times, January 19, 1975)
    1975 – Climate Change: Chilling Possibilities (Science News, March 1, 1975)
    1975 – B-r-r-r-r: New Ice Age on way soon? (The Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1975)
    1975 – Cooling Trends Arouse Fear That New Ice Age Coming (Eugene Register-Guard, ?March 2, 1975?)
    1975 – Is Another Ice Age Due? Arctic Ice Expands In Last Decade (Youngstown Vindicator – ?March 2, 1975?)
    1975 – Is Earth Headed For Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, March 2, 1975)
    1975 – New Ice Age Dawning? Significant Shift In Climate Seen (Times Daily, ?March 2, 1975?)
    1975 – There’s Troublesome Weather Ahead (Tri City Herald, ?March 2, 1975?)
    1975 – Is Earth Doomed To Live Through Another Ice Age? (The Robesonian, ?March 3, 1975?)
    1975 – The Ice Age cometh: the system that controls our climate (The Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1975)
    1975 – The Cooling World (Newsweek, April 28, 1975)
    1975 – Scientists Ask Why World Climate Is Changing; Major Cooling May Be Ahead (PDF) (The New York Times, May 21, 1975)
    1975 – In the Grip of a New Ice Age? (International Wildlife, July-August, 1975)
    1975 – Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 11, 1975)
    1976 – The Cooling: Has the Next Ice Age Already Begun? [Book] (Lowell Ponte, 1976)
    1977 – Blizzard – What Happens if it Doesn’t Stop? [Book] (George Stone, 1977)
    1977 – The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age [Book] (The Impact Team, 1977)
    1976 – Worrisome CIA Report; Even U.S. Farms May be Hit by Cooling Trend (U.S. News & World Report, May 31, 1976)
    1977 – The Big Freeze (Time Magazine, January 31, 1977)
    1977 – We Will Freeze in the Dark (Capital Cities Communications Documentary, Host: Nancy Dickerson, April 12, 1977)
    1978 – The New Ice Age [Book] (Henry Gilfond, 1978)
    1978 – Little Ice Age: Severe winters and cool summers ahead (Calgary Herald, January 10, 1978)
    1978 – Winters Will Get Colder, ‘we’re Entering Little Ice Age’ (Ellensburg Daily Record, January 10, 1978)
    1978 – Geologist Says Winters Getting Colder (Middlesboro Daily News, January 16, 1978)
    1978 – It’s Going To Get Colder (Boca Raton News, ?January 17, 1978?)
    1978 – Believe new ice age is coming (The Bryan Times, March 31, 1978)
    1978 – The Coming Ice Age (In Search Of TV Show, Season 2, Episode 23, Host: Leonard Nimoy, May 1978)
    1978 – An Ice Age Is Coming Weather Expert Fears (Milwaukee Sentinel, November 17, 1978)
    1979 – A Choice of Catastrophes – The Disasters That Threaten Our World [Book] (Isaac Asimov, 1979)
    1979 – Get Ready to Freeze (Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 12, 1979)
    1979 – New ice age almost upon us? (The Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 1979)

    • JAC says:

      SD , your post reminded me of a book I had to go out into the cold to find ( it was in the shed). The Twilight of Abundance by David Archibald. A climate scientist who is convinced that the Earth will cool significantly due to Solar Cycle 25. The sub title is “why life in the 21st Century will be nasty, brutish and short”. One of the reasons is the shortage of grain. Three grains – wheat, corn and rice – feed 90% of the world’s population, with wheat and corn being temperate crops, requiring a ground temperature above 15 deg. between 90 to 120 days from planting to harvesting. Failure to achieve this is the most common cause of poor crops in the Northern Hemisphere. From memory he maintains that a rise in temperature (global warming) pushes the agricultural zone further North and adds substantially to the yield. He claims the world’s population has increased by 5 Billion in 70 years and it is this increase which has fed them. It is an interesting read.
      These grains are also connected to David’s opening observations about GM foods. The feature that distinguishes the Neolithic culture from their predecessors was the shift from a nomadic, hunter gatherer life to farming. The native grasses they developed , which still exist today, are short and carry a small head of a few seeds. These were genetically modified by selective breeding led to the development of the species we know today. How they juggled the increase in size and weight of the seed head with the huge growth in the length and vigour of the stem remains unknown. They also did the same thing with cattle.

      And those noisy King parrots and Lyre birds of yours are pretty loud. I can hear them at my place .

      • spangled drongo says:

        Thanks, JAC. Yes, it is beautiful to hear those lyrebirds [now in mating season] going ballistic like that. We have just completed our annual survey of them and we possibly have more now than we had 25 years ago.

        This is good because the young spend the first 6 months on the ground and are vulnerable to the ferals.

        So, touch wood, they seem to be coping.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Memo to David,

    You’ve sent in five comments, and I allowed the first. That is your ration. But since a number of commenters have taken you up on some of your statements in that one you can have a further comment to respond to them. See if you can do it with debate and discussion rather than hand-waving and nit-picking.

  • spangled drongo says:

    And Davey, try to sound as convincing as Leonard Nimoy:

    • Neville says:

      Spangled at the end of that Ice age video you’ll see a young Steven Schneider who later on became one of the strongest advocates for CAGW. Amazing transformation in about 10 or so years. He has since died from cancer.

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