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« It woz the Sun wot'll win it | Main | No Arctic thaw this year? »

Greenpeace's desperate smear

It's an article of faith among the green fraternity that the correct response to anyone who questions the climate change orthodoxy is the argumentum ad hominem. Or to be more precise to issue a barrage of ad hominems. Or to be even more precise issue a barrage consisting of any old logical fallacy so long as the truth and facts of the issue at hand are avoided. These accusations can be anything from "this bad person has right-wing political opinions" to "this bad person once said something that turned out to be incorrect" to "this evil spawn of Satan once spoke at an oil company-funded seminar".

There is a good example at Greenpeace's blog today, where David Rose is taken to task because, in a sidebar article making the point that in the 1970s we were all told that we were facing an imminent ice age, he used a graphic of a Time magazine cover that subsequently turned out to a spoof. The blog post's author, Graham Thompson, pretends that this is tantamount to drowning puppies, but even a cursory examination of the details suggests that handwaving and shouting and smearing are all he has got: what Rose said about the 1970s is indisputably true.


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Reader Comments (43)

I shouldn't have gone to the Greenpeace Blog as Inow have a nose bleed. Anyway my contribution was as follows and it will be interesting to see how long it will last?

The mail may have used a spoof time cover but that is absolutely irrelevant as the Climate Scientists like Schneider were promoting global cooling and it was every where in the press. I would have thought that people should be celebrating that there has been no global warming for seventeen years and the hypothesis that man made CO2 emissions would cause catastrophic global warming has been falsified.

Jun 28, 2013 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Greenpeace, the first port of call for BBC correspondents such as Harrabin, says all you need to know about the BBC. The trouble is that Greenpeace know who we are and where we live. I've seen Greenpeace thugs in action, and it's not a pretty sight.

Jun 28, 2013 at 1:35 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

In 1976 the Australian Academy of Science prepared a report on climate change for the Australian government. The introduction stated:

“This report was prepared at the request of the Minister for Science for advice on statements by some climatologists that the earth was undergoing a continuing cooling trend. Examination of recorded temperatures in the northern hemisphere suggest that, after nearly 100 years of slowly rising temperatures, there has been fall since 1940, most pronounced at high latitudes and averaging -0.3 degrees Celsius. Combined with extreme climatic events elsewhere during the early 1970’s, notably droughts in the Sahel and the Ukraine and failures of the monsoon in India, this fall in temperature has led some climatologists to suggest that the world’s climate is progressing rather rapidly towards another glacial phase, or at least another ‘Little
Ice Age’”

Cue The Clash I think (although that was 1979)...

Jun 28, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Quite a good summary of Time articles, etc here as well

One of them (Time 1974) recognise any parallels? - Telltale SIGNS

Time - Another Ice Age, June 24, 1974

"Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

Telltale signs are everywhere —from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest.Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F"

Jun 28, 2013 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

thinkingscientist: please provide a link...

As for Greenpeace, it was all nice and dandy when the DM was publishing fabricated alarmist stories, such as drowning polar bears or the sun rising earlier and earlier in Greenland.

Jun 28, 2013 at 1:42 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

@Phillip Bratby: 13:35

I am not aware of the existance of "Greenpeace thugs". I've seen calls for reprisals, 10:10 videos etc so I'm not too surprised. Can you give us more information on this?

Jun 28, 2013 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd Moran

As someone who was forced to watch the news and all the science programs in the 1970's (which inevitably were in conflict with Monty Python/The Goodies/Fawlty Towers), the fear of a coming Ice Age was real and present, no matter how much greenies want to rewrite history.

Jun 28, 2013 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

I think the paper should publish an apology, along with all the links it should have used instead :-)

Jun 28, 2013 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Past Time covers can be searched for at their site. Here is one from 24th December 1979. The one for 31st Jan 1977 illustrates the feature article entitled 'The Big Freeze'.

Jun 28, 2013 at 2:12 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Steve Goddard's Real Science has a page dedicated to the 1970s Global Cooling scare. He often posts links to old climate/weather related newspaper articles. Worth a visit a few times a week.

Jun 28, 2013 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

David Rose wrote:

'In the Seventies, scientists and policymakers were just as concerned about a looming ‘ice age’ as they have been lately about global warming'

I had thought that there was an interesting discussion here, but if this statement is 'indisputable' then I won't bother.

As for the cover, it does matter that we get the details right. Whether or not using that image was tantamount to 'drowning puppies', it was factually wrong. If we expect those we disagree with to graciously accept corrections (and I can think of several comparable examples that have caused outrage amongst skeptics - how about the polar bear on melting ice?) then we should accept them graciously when the details go against what we think is the bigger picture. We should welcome anything that takes us closer to the truth.

Jun 28, 2013 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJK

For those of us whose memories go back that farr, it's beyond irritating to be told by acne-ridden oiks who are too young to have any personal experience of a globally warming world that there was no coming-ice-age scare in the 70s.

Jun 28, 2013 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

Well it is pretty stoopid to fall for a spoof. I think I'd go for a hands up "mea culpa" on that.

I see old BH regular BBD appears in the Greenpeace comments; he hasn't changed. His response to being presented with the Poptech Ice Age article is "he has form you know", in line with the Bishop's ad hom theory.

Jun 28, 2013 at 2:47 PM | Registered CommenterSimonW

If using that cover is tantamount to 'drowning puppies' then what is Al Gore, Beeb, Grauniad, WWF, Greenpeace, FOTE and all the myriad greeny orgs using the infamous fake polar bear on ice flow pic? (which is still available on iStockphoto).

Will he apologise, or is he too busy drowning puppies?

Jun 28, 2013 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Omnologos: it took me 20 years of hard graft and cash to finally get a copy of that document. You can get an offical library photocopy from:

Does anyone recall the articles (possibly in the Observer or Times - I seem to think that was what my parents read back then) by Sir Fred Hoyle (then Astronomer Royal) on the coming ice age and a proposal to pump water at 4 degC from the deep ocean to the surface to prevent an ice age happening? It would have been early to mid-1970's. I would dearly like to get hold

I also remember the ice age scare stories peaked in 1976. The joke amongst ordinary people was how hot the summer was that year. The scientists were then quoted as saying we should expect extreme weather at the start of an ice age...

They were talking just as much bollocks then as they are today.

Jun 28, 2013 at 2:52 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

I would also like to track down the Daily Telegraph article from around 2005(?) when climate scientists were visiting the climate conference organised at the Hadley Centre. The Telegraph described how one scientist made his career in the 1970's predicting a new ice age...I am trying to collect these gems if possible.

Jun 28, 2013 at 2:56 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Here is a new target for Greenpeace
"You'd think Greens would be delighted by the bounty of shale gas under our feet. Here is a plentiful energy supply which does not emit soot (as coal does), nor jam estuaries (as tidal turbines do), nor starve Africans (as biofuels do), nor slaughter rare birds (as wind farms do). It does not require public subsidies (as both nuclear and renewables do). On the contrary, it will generate a healthy stream of tax revenue for the Exchequer. It will diminish our reliance on nasty regimes, from Tehran to Moscow – precisely the sorts of regimes that Greens march against. Oh, and it will reduce our carbon emissions, by displacing coal in electricity generators.

What, then, is the problem?"

Definitely worth reading the whole article. How liberating to experience even one MEP who can think clearly.

Jun 28, 2013 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

Let's talk about personal ad hominem attacks.

My first experience on the receiving end of personal ad hominem attacks occurred last weekend. Usually I know enough not to say anything about global warming, but when a friend who was in attendance said that sea level rise was getting worse, we can now expect sea levels to be 2 to 3 feet higher by 2060, I responded (before I could catch myself) that the best and the newest science about Greenland's contribution to sea level rise suggested that Greenland might add around 5 inches by 2200; and without much contribution from Greenland, you can't get too much over one foot, that that would be early in the next century, not 2060.

All hell broke loose.

My friend said that Antarctica is melting, look at the breakup of all the ice sheets. I reminded him that when floating ice shelves melt, it doesn't contribute to sea level rise, and that the ice sheets on the mainland aren't contributing a pittance to sea level rise at present.

Then my friend's wife mentioned the tragedy of increasing sea ice melt in the Arctic and asked me if I denied that. I agreed it was melting, but pointed out that 6,000 years ago, the Arctic wasn't just lower in sea ice, but ice free for enough of the summer that Scandanavian scientists had found on the NW shore of Greenland unique patterns on the shore indicating the presence of large waves, which can only happen when there is NO sea ice -- and that we survived that.

The shots were coming from all sides, but without getting angry, I returned fire with better armaments (knowing the science).

Then it was my friend's turn again: he said that 1/3 of Bangladesh would be under water. I responded that Bangladesh is actually ADDING land mass in the last several decades, even with the one foot sea level rise of the last century, because of the huge deposition of glacial soils from the glacial rivers that empty there.

Back to my friend's wife, who said, OK, but with world populations so high now, sea level rise will be so much worse. I agreed that sea level rise will impact coastal populations, but that the point of my original comment is that whatever the impacts, they will be smaller.

My friend said that low lying islands would get drowned, creating environmental refugees. I pointed out the science that shows that during the last 40 years, when sea levels rose several inches, that about 85% of the low lying Pacific islands in a recent study either ADDED land mass or didn't lose any. People naturally asked about that, and I explained the process -- when sea levels rise, storms deposit coral rubble on the island, when sea levels fall, wind erodes the rubble down to about 5 feet, so the islands stay about that level over time.

My friend's wife talked about Alaska losing land. Here, I agreed that with less sea ice, wave action is indeed crumbling low lying silty lands on the NW part of Alaska, and that surely much more land must have been lost during that period of no sea ice in late summer in the Arctic, around 6,000 years ago, but I agreed that at least one village of about 200 people was in the process of a necessary relocation.

But what about the wildlife, she asked? Wildlife can move northward (and is) and can move up a mountain, I replied. (I should have pointed out the truly massive relocation that occurred when most of Canada and Scandanavia was under 2 miles of ice.)

So far it was just my friends, who know I don't say anything about climate change without being able to back it up. They don't get angry with me, either.

But now we come to the former diplomat, failing to be diplomatic -- one of the strangers at the party.

He said we need to be leading the world and that it was criminal the way we keep increasing our greenhouse gases. I pointed out that the US has actually be reducing our CO2 emissions, because of shale gas, while the EU has been increasing them lately because of replacing nuclear with coal. I also pointed out that whatever we do, China and India will continue to dwarf our effort.

He got angry and maintained we have to lead. I asked him if reducing our GHGs in ways that other western countries don't is leadership. He said that the reason we are reducing CO2 emissions is because of the new regulations on emissions from cars that Obama put in place. I told him that those regulations don't go into effect until 2015 or 2016, and that the reduction is CO2 from the transportation sector in the US was a reaction to higher prices of gasoline the last 7 years or so. This again increased his anger. Throwing undisputable facts on the fire makes it grow higher; pointing out that someone's suppositions -- made up in the moment -- are wrong makes the person angrier.

Finally, he pointed his finger at me, told me I was wrong, that 97% of the scientists were right and I was wrong. Despite his undiplomatic behaviour, I simply rewound the spool and pointed out that all of this started when I merely pointed out that the best and most recent science has now shown undeniably good news for us, that Greenland was going to contribute very little to sea level rise, and that was going to mean that sea levels were going to rise pretty little, relative to recent projections in the media. I pointed out that I agreed that CO2 warmed the climate and that we were going to see a warmer world, I wasn't a "denier." I just found it good to know that things weren't going to be nearly as bad as supposed by some, based on the best science available on Greenland ice melt.

This didn't do much to calm him down, but we changed the subject. Being a diplomat, he acted better from thereon out, but left the party early, and didn't offer to shake my hand.

One solace is that my wife thought I defended myself quite well, contained my emotions, and from any reasonably neutral standard, won the debate by a mile. (Usually when a stranger wags his finger in my face, I don't act like a teacher with a poorly behaved child and to on as if it didn't happen, but I did so here.)

Another source of solace is that I felt quite good about myself, usually I just let climate change discussions go on without me, staying silent until the subject passes, suppressing my usual interest in sharing science with friends -- so I felt liberated.

My worry is that our hosts, who were preparing food and heard the emotional level of the talk but not the substance, might be less inclined to invite us back. That would be a disappointment to both my wife and I, but that is the risk you take today in opening your mouth about climate change.

Jun 28, 2013 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn


I think the suggestion that we should pump deep ocean water to the surface to prevent the forthcoming Ice Age is in Fred's autobiography. I know the suggestion was made in private memoirs he sent around many years prior to publication. I first read about it in 1979 but there may be much earlier articles. I still have the preprint he sent me somewhere. I will look for it.

Jun 28, 2013 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Whitehouse

Greenpeace is about greening the pockets of its officers and employees, and the campaign coffers of politicians.
Any actual work done on the environment is strictly coincidental.

Jun 28, 2013 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

John, you've just described why I (and I suspect millions of others) don't argue when people spout bollocks at us.

We are the silent majority.

Jun 28, 2013 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record


Does this help with Fred Hoyle?

Jun 28, 2013 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones

As a young idealist in the 1970s I was a great admirer of Greenpeace. They seemed both courageous and wise. But the world has moved on. In many ways they have won the argument. Now they are just tiresome, indulging in publicity hungry stunts with little rationale and no capacity to engage in debate. Their time has gone but like a little kid the more they are ignored, the louder they shout and scream. And yes in the 1970s I believed passionately that the oil was running out and we were all going to freeze.

Jun 28, 2013 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

I can't get the hang of web addresses - this is what I had added but which didn't show:

Jun 28, 2013 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones

Many many thanks to John (Jun 28, 2013 at 3:37 PM).
Sometimes a detailed anecdote is worth a thousand peer-reviewed papers. (Though, being pedantic, it wasn’t really an ad hominem attack).

Jun 28, 2013 at 4:33 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

In my teens I read a book by Gordon Rattray Taylor, wonderfully titled <I>The Doomsday Book</I>. This included a chapter, "Ice Age Or Heat Death?"; as I remember, it summarised the two competing arguments.

I remember, even aged 12, being bemused by the implied warning: "We're all doomed! DOOMED, I tell ye. We're just not sure exactly how!"

There are a few second-hand copies of the book on Amazon for £0.01.

Jun 28, 2013 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMH

David Jones: thanks for that link - really interesting. It looks like he consolidated his ideas into a book, but the newspaper articles were much ealrier. As a kid I also read his book on the hypothesis that viruses came from space.

Jun 28, 2013 at 5:11 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist


Yes I remember the virus theory.

Jun 28, 2013 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones

While we're on Hoyle, he also wrote a book in the 70s called 'energy or extinction' where he did back-of-the envelope calculations to show that wind turbines were useless and nuclear power was the only viable long-term energy source. There's a good review of it on amazon. Sadly, it seems that not many of pur politicians read it.

Jun 28, 2013 at 5:51 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The comments on the Blog are hilarious. Only devotees of the Green faith would make such unthinking comments.

I am sure they have Greenpeace sermons - "Hallelujah brothers and sisters cast out Satan before we are all doomed"

Jun 28, 2013 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Barry and I tweeted about it. Greenpeace has carried out numerous fake caption, picture and video campaigns over the years. They are proud about it.

Think there is a difference between a conscious fake and an inadvertent error.

This also shows the quality of fact-checking at the daily Mail.

Jun 28, 2013 at 6:24 PM | Registered Commentershub

There is one important point to add to the Bish's supportive post. The day after publication of the article with the spoof cover, we realised our mistake, and immediately removed it from the website version of the article. We noticed the error in less than 24 hours. It's taken Greenpeace more than three months. Shock horror.

Meanwhile, even Greenpeace makes the odd inadvertent error. In the blog attacking me, it says I work for the Daily Mail. Actually the piece was published in the Mail on Sunday, which is editorially quite separate. I have yet to write anything for our daily stablemate.

John, I have similar experiences several times. I wonder if I know the identity of your diplomat. A whole ago I had the unpleasant experience of sitting next to Sir Crispin Tickell at a formal dinner. Not one I care to repeat. It's the finger wagging that makes me wonder.

Jun 28, 2013 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rose

David, it wasn't Sir Crispin. Finger wagging, unfortunately, is pretty common among the tribe of co-religionists. It's a little like the old saying about barristers: if you don't have facts on your side, argue the law; and if you have neither on your side, just argue louder!

Jun 28, 2013 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

@David Rose

And wasn't Crispin Tickell one of those promoting the global cooling scare in the 70s?

Jun 28, 2013 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

@ thinkingscientist

For information about Fred Hoyle and the prevention of a new Ice Age see:

The Next Ice Age

Sir Fred Hoyle is one of the leading cosmologists in human history. No scientist today can claim greater intellectual stature than Hoyle, particularly about our planet in the universe. In 1981, Hoyle published a book, Ice: How the New Ice Age will Come and How We Can Prevent It, in which this brilliant giant of natural sciences warned of the next ice age. The consequences, Hoyle warned, would be disastrous. It would:

"...hopelessly compromise the future...This is why our modern generation must take action to avoid catastrophe, an ultimate catastrophe besides which the problems that concern people, media, and government from day to day are quite trivial."

Hoyle, writing only a decade before the whole global warming jihad became chic science, had studied the climatic trends, the astronomical effects, the impact of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere -- everything, really, that the druids of global warming cite today -- and he had come to exactly the opposite conclusion as today's politically correct science of official global warming.

Hoyle concluded, "There is no chance of avoiding another ice age, unless we take deliberate action to prevent it." He accepted the tenuous premise that human technology could actually change the course of climatic change, and he insisted that, unless government acted, another ice age would produce horrific effects upon the human race. (By almost any standard, another ice age would cause more death and suffering than another warming period. Warming brings relative comfort, not harm.)

Fred Hoyle had a definite plan for how to keep the planet from disastrously cooling. Cold water from the floor of the ocean must be pumped to the surface of the sea, which would increase the heat stored in the ocean. This could not be done too quickly, he cautioned, because that would risk the surface of the ocean becoming cool too. The process must be carefully managed by collective human effort, and if this was done, mankind might be spared the horrors of an almost certain new ice age.

A world class scientist who only a couple of decades ago had thoroughly studied the issue, concluded that the planet was cooling dangerously and not warming, and proposed a radical government program to address the crisis. How long did Hoyle believe that it would take to sufficiently warm the planet to prevent the next ice age? About two thousand years. Is Hoyle right? Is he wrong? No one really knows today.

Jun 28, 2013 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

" ...........used a graphic of a Time magazine cover that subsequently turned out to a spoof. "

Just like in their 'environmental' stories, the Beeb deliberately uses photos of harmless water vapour, sometimes backlit, to appear as 'dark' "smoke".

The common thread, is their author, their Harbinger-of-Doom.

Jun 28, 2013 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

John - thanks for your post.

Jun 28, 2013 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Like the Grand-Old-Duke-of-York, Greenpeace have marched their troops to the top of the anti-carbon hill. How they get them down again, and marching up the next hill, is getting progressively harder.

As at least one of their former founding members realises, they don't actually have much cause to exist any more: Environmental standards everywhere have increased commensurately with wealth. It woz the wealth wot dun it! Who'd have guessed it? People do care about their environment without being sanctimoniously lectured about it all the time!

Yet, as an organisation, they chase their own tail from one forecast crisis to the next, raising funds, knowing that humans will always be vulnerable to doom-sayers, unable to stop. They may even recognise that their existence is solely predicated on the next approaching disaster, but are powerless to ever say anything less.

They aspire to rule OUR environment, yet they cannot rule themselves.

Jun 29, 2013 at 1:21 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Now as a downloadable pdf is Science News edition that ran in 1975 called Climate Change:Chilling Possibilities.available at -

Another pdf is Newsweek’s 1975 Cooling World edition available at -

The coming ice age with the oil crisis, and the ever present the nuclear war threat marked out my early adult life.

Jun 29, 2013 at 4:56 AM | Unregistered Commentertckev

@thinkingscientist "I would also like to track down the Daily Telegraph article from around 2005(?) when climate scientists were visiting the climate conference organised at the Hadley Centre. The Telegraph described how one scientist made his career in the 1970's predicting a new ice age...I am trying to collect these gems if possible."

I haven't found the Telegraph article, but I did find this interesting pdf about the conference, which was called "Avoiding dangerous climate change" and was indeed held in 2005. I particularly liked the section on forecasting the next decade. It says:

On a timescale of several decades the prediction of global warming is now robust. ...

The Met Office Hadley Centre has pioneered a new system to predict the climate a decade ahead. …
We are now using the system to predict changes out to 2014. By the end of this period, the global average temperature is expected to have risen by around 0.3 °C compared to 2004, and half of the years after 2009 are predicted to be hotter than the current record hot year, 1998.

That last prediction made on the basis of their "world class science" doesn't appear to be panning out too well, does it:

Jun 29, 2013 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

Ed Moran at 1.51:

here is a Jo Nova article on the Greenpeace threats:

Caroline K

Jun 29, 2013 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterCaroline K

Finally found the article on the climate expert who made his reputation predicting an ice age in the 1970's - and it was Stephen Schnieder!

"Polar bears 'already doomed' by pollution By Charles Clover 12:01AM GMT 02 Feb 2005

"The polar bear, the ptarmigan and Inuit culture are probably already doomed by the amount of pollution in the atmosphere, a leading scientist said yesterday.

"Prof Stephen Schneider, a climatologist from Stanford University, who first made his name in the 1970s by predicting a new ice age, was referring to the latest predictions by the Nasa space agency that the world faces an extra 0.6 degrees Celsius of warming as a result of fossil fuel emissions already in the atmosphere." (my emphasis)

Jul 1, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist


When I get the finger wagging and loud squeals I just look at them with my curious dog stare :)

And if they (I'm usually up against more than one) call me a denier I know I got them, and calmly ask them to tell me what it is I deny. When they realize they can't explain their own argument, someone usually change the topic faster than the speed of light. Too bad I never get to the science at all.

Jul 1, 2013 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered Commenternormalnew

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