Google Timeline reveals triumph of denialism

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You can see it with your own eyes - a quick history of global warming news stories.

Google Search is a tremendously powerful tool for online research.   Google engineers devised a way to display search results in a timeline layout.  This is a great way of visualizing a search term across time.  You will see a list of news stories for the time section you choose.  Then you can see your report displayed over days, months or years.

An easy first search is to enter “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” over a year range and see just how far back the story of global warming goes.   I found global warming news stories in 1967, 1968 and 69 and beyond.   The timeline display shows a handful of news stories for each year.  Each with the top news headlines as a hotspot to click for further information.   It was startling to see global warming news stories published 30 and 40 years ago.  And alarming to see a 1988 news story with much the same phrasing as global warming news story today.

1969editclip.jpg

This suggests that the news media - mostly newspapers, have been stuck in relative ignorance for decades, or it suggests that advertiser interests and paid professional PR challenges to science has been wildly successful.  It is as if we are stuck in the 1980’s.   Look back and see the same discussions; we have not moved beyond these basic issues.   In your Timeline search be sure to check the dates of these articles and photo images.   A cursory review of these news reports show decades of inaction.  To me this reads like a triumph of professional skeptics and denialism movements.  The manipulated delay has been diabolically successful.   Coal now provides fully half our electrical energy, carbon fuels are widely used, and even the simplest alternative transportation is crippled and marginalized - from trains to bicycles, to electric cars.  We are stuck in the 60’s

One article from 1977. Jul 25, Washington Post

Burning of coal could alter climate
by Margot Hornblower Washington Post
If industrial nations continue to burn oil and coal for energy, the world’s average temprerature could increase more than six degrees centigrat (11 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next 200 years, the National Academy of Sciences warns…

It is difficult to know whether this news flurry triggered a PR campaign by the coal industry consortium.

News story from 1979

21st century disasters predicted by scientist

NEW YORK (UPI) Dust bowls over large areas of North America, Asia and Africa and a rapid rise in th global sea level are possible early in 21st century, a scientist warned Monday

And from April 4 1980
Scientist warns of serious threat from carbon dioxide pollution

WASHINGTON, The concentration of polluting carbon dioxide the atmosphere “poses a serious threat to climatic, economic and political stability over the next 50 years” a scientinst told a congressional panel Thursday…

1985-strongS.jpg

Article from the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

WATCHING FOR A RISING TIDE GLOBAL WARMING IS CERTAIN TO CHANGE THE WAY SEATTLE LIVES
By Debera Carlton P-I Reporter
TUESDAY, October 28, 1986

In 50 years, Seattleites may not have to travel to Southern California for warm, sunny weather.

Scientists say the Puget Sound region could one day be as balmy as Baja because of the pollution-caused trend in global warming known as the greenhouse effect.

The trouble is, by the time we have year-round tanning weather there may not be any beaches, due to a predicted 5-foot rise in sea level.

“Short of nuclear war, the greenhouse effect is the largest global change people will experience in the next century - and there’s no going back,” said Richard Gammon, an oceanographer with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle.

“The 100-year forecast is for a warmer, wetter world,” said Gammon, echoing other scie quite possible that in 50 years Seattle will be more like Los Angeles.  However, there may not be many beaches because of a global sea- level rise.”

Scientists, even those who eschew a doomsday outlook on global warming, say that 100 or even 50 years from now there may be big changes worldwide in coastlines, fisheries, forests, rainfall patterns, agriculture and the oceans.   They just don’t know how big…

The Google Timeline display can really help one visualize data.  We can do a study of press coverage of skeptical, denial and the anti-science challenges.   I am guessing we would see a strong rise of news stories around the 1980s and 90’s.   What have we learned in four decades?   Does this portend how fast we will learn the next lesson?   Who is controlling information?

4 Comments

Thanks.

Another city facing serious consequences is Boston. I went out last week and got a photograph of a jellyfish floating above the grass at the sidewalk which is a block away from where I live. Another 3 feet and we will get water at the door at every high tide. We are not lower than much of the city.

Yet developers are using the economy to promote a new high-rise next door.

A side query: somewhere I saw an extended article (chapter?) with excellent graphics of an "extreme" (read normal) scenario. It went a bit further than the usual, and had more good illustrations. Any idea where I might find it again?

There is so much info out there... I like the new govt site of: http://www.globalchange.gov/ There are some great graphics there like http://www.globalchange.gov/images/cir/figures/hires-figures/projected-changes-north-american-precipitations.jpg

Also the sea level tracking is at:
http://googlemapsmania.blogspot.com/2008/04/google-maps-sea-level-rise-explorer.html
http://flood.firetree.net/
http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs2-00/
http://solveclimate.com/blog/20080825/harvard-economist-calculates-odds-climate-catastrophe

Any photographs you take now, will be vastly different in just a few years... keep documenting the change. I like to pick one or two special spots and revisit them every few years.

Correction: The Victoria Advocate story is from 1988, not 1968. Google has it mislabeled. Note the dates on the printed page itself. -Steve

I live in Merida Mexico. I've been here for 25 years and just in that time, the summer weather has gone from awfully hot to unbearable. It is running ten degrees higher than it was five years ago. It is shocking. People are hospitalized daily with heat stroke, because they still try to work outside. And this rainy season it is horribly dry. The campesinos in the countryside are losing their bean and corn crops. The bees are disappearing because the flowering plants aren't flowering and Yucatan is losing one of its main products, honey. Have you checked the price of honey in the supermarkets lately?

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