This whole “scientists used to think we were headed into an ice age” thing is one of those delicious examples of things I thought to be true that turn out to be wrong.
Over at RealClimate, William Connolley does a great job today of laying out a case he’s been building for a long time. The bottom line is that, while there was some discussion in the scientific community in the 1970s of the possibility of a future ice age, the notion that scientists generally believed one was imminent, and now have changed their tune to say we should expect warming instead, is flat wrong.
I don’t think that deniers can remember that far back. They seem to have a tendency to have very short memories when push comes to shove.
Interestingly enough, I was in grad school in the early 70’s in physics, and we seminared climate change to death without the benefit of really large, fast computes to make models with. We simply looked at what were then estimates of heat input/output from natural variations in orbit, tilt, etc. cycles of the earth/sun, and compared that to increased input of heat caused from added CO2 and the subsequent added water vapor that was a really good greenhouse gas. Our conclusion was that more heat would be trapped than would escape as the CO2 concentration increased. That was 40 years ago. UNM was ahead of its time, I guess. Of course,there was a personal period of doubt for a while, but that was primarily because there were no really good data to show what was going on that got out to the general public. So, I do confess my sins, right here on Inkstain, about first understanding, then being a bit of a skeptic, and finally coming around with some simple physics observations and looking at real data. A twisted journey of the soul, but final arrival. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be hot!