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A Short History Of Climate Alarm

March 9, 2021

By Paul Homewood


My new paper is just out:



London, 9 March: A review published today by the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) sets out the sad yet enlightening history of failed climate predictions.

The paper, by climate writer Paul Homewood, looks back to the days before global warming alarm, and takes a wry look at how calamity constantly seems to give humanity a miss.

Homewood says “It doesn’t matter what area of the climate you are looking at, climatologists have an extraordinary ability to be wrong. From the 1970s scare about a coming ice age, to tropical islands sinking beneath the waves, to permanent drought, they always seem to miss the target.”

And while their predictions tend to be of the doom laden kind, that’s not always the case. As Homewood explains, 

Calamity is the touchstone of the climate scientist, and getting it wrong is their default mode. Unfortunately, even on the rare occasions they bring us good news, such as claims that the UK would develop a Mediterranean climate, their predictions have proven no better. Are these really the right people to guide public policy?”

Paul Homewood: A Short History of Climate Alarm! (pdf)

  1. tom0mason permalink
    March 9, 2021 3:11 pm

    A great piece Paul.
    If I were more mobile I would be printing off a dozen or so and leave them on buses, trains, cafes, the library etc.

  2. Anthony J Marolda permalink
    March 9, 2021 3:23 pm

    Excellent article! I’m old enough to remember some of the past bad climate predictions (e.g. the coming ice age in the 1970s). I’ve also followed the history of the climate models that keep overshooting the actual climate effects by wide margins.

    Keep up the good work!

    • March 10, 2021 11:46 am

      I remember as a graduate student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when working on my MA in botany from 1966-69 that it was the possibility of a coming ice ago. The rationale was that with the previous cycles over several million years, we were about “due” for one.

      • Dave Gardner permalink
        March 10, 2021 12:28 pm

        You’re right there Joan, the ice age scare did actually start in the 1960s, but it is more associated with the 1970s decade. The first newspaper I believe to publicise the scare was (ironically) The Guardian. Their science correspondent John Maddox (who later became editor of Nature) published an article about the coming ice age in 1962:

        The link just gives an extract, the full article is available on an image file link given at the end of the extract.

      • March 12, 2021 12:02 pm

        Dave Gardner, there was also a cover story on Time Magazine. That is also the publication which a couple of decades ago announced with great fanfare and cover story that there WERE differences between men and women. Who knew?

  3. Nigel Hill permalink
    March 9, 2021 3:29 pm

    I think that climate scares go much further back in time. In the mid 19th century after the discovery of cyclic glaciation people were worried about the Gulf Stream changing.

    In his 1870 bestseller Lothair Benjamin Disraeli brings up the subject in an amusing dinner conversation. Here it is…….

    Extract from Chapter 8 Lothair by Benjamin Disraeli.

    Apollonia was stating to Lothair, with perspicuity, the reasons which
    quite induced her to believe that the Gulf-Stream had changed its
    course, and the political and social consequences that might accrue.

    “The religious sentiment of the Southern races must be wonderfully
    affected by a more rigorous climate,” said Apollonia. “I cannot doubt,”
    she continued, “that a series of severe winters at Rome might put an end
    to Romanism.”

    “But is there any fear that a reciprocal influence might be exercised on
    the Northern nations?” inquired Lothair. “Would there be any
    apprehension of our Protestantism becoming proportionately relaxed?”

    “Of course not,” said Apollonia. “Truth cannot be affected by climate.
    Truth is truth, alike in Palestine and Scandinavia.”

    “I wonder what the cardinal would think of this,” said Lothair, “who,
    you tell me, is coming to you this evening?”

    “Yes, I am most interested to see him, though he is the most puissant of
    our foes. Of course he would take refuge in sophistry; and science, you
    know, they deny.”

    “Cardinal Grandison is giving some lectures on science,” said the
    vice-chancellor’s lady, quietly.

    “It is remorse,” said Apollonia. “Their clever men can never forget
    that unfortunate affair of Galileo, and think they can divert the
    indignation of the ninteenth century by mock zeal about red sandstone or
    the origin of species.”

    “And are you afraid of the Gulf-Stream?” inquired Lothair of his calmer

    “I think we want more evidence of a change. The vice-chancellor and
    myself went down to a place we have near town, on Saturday, where there is a very nice piece of water; indeed, some people call it a lake; but
    it was quite frozen, and my boys wanted to skate, but that I would not

    “You believe in the Gulf-Stream to that extent,” said Lothair — “no

    Ex Project Gutenberg

  4. Vernon permalink
    March 9, 2021 3:51 pm

    I hope it is still thepractice that the GWPF copies all its publications to every MP.

    In today’s Telegraph under the heading “Ecosystems worth more in natural state” the final paragraph states “The findings come weeks after a report commissioned by the Treasury called for nature to be valued as part of the global economic system”. This is pure UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainability which, let no one be in any doubt, is thinly disguised world communism. It falls right into what Paul is addressing. Who the hell is behind all this sinister and dishonest nonsense?

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      March 9, 2021 7:41 pm

      The recent Government white paper on Energy has set-out this attempt to avoid scrutiny of major investments by not requiring the “Green Book” application to use cost / benefit assessments, (which parliament requires at present), to environmental projects.

      This will allow lots of funding for windmills and cars even when the funding is of no benefit to the proles, the only “benefit” being CO2 reduction. Frightening Dr. Strangelove stuff, but preparations for COP 26 are now well underway, and won’t the world give us big respect for our madness!.

  5. March 9, 2021 3:55 pm

    Excellent as always Paul. Congratulations and well done.

  6. Thomas Carr permalink
    March 9, 2021 3:59 pm

    Were I better educated I would be able to describe that human condition which comprises relentless negativism from which the alarmists have been able to achieve such traction. That and a sly anti capitalist agenda from the usual quarter. Well done with your short history, Paul.

  7. John Peter permalink
    March 9, 2021 4:00 pm

    Amazing compilation. Should be compulsory reading for Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon.

  8. Mack permalink
    March 9, 2021 4:04 pm

    Well done Paul. Have been looking forward to seeing this paper. And wonderfully illustrated by the ever talented Josh. It should be required reading for every MP and councillor in the country.

  9. March 9, 2021 4:06 pm

    Curiously I also listed Prince Charles’s doom-mongering. There was also this from 2008:

    Even more curious that 11 years later he would have the gall to claim the same timeframe:

    I hope all these links don’t send me into moderation. I’ve got one more, which is mostly non-climate related, but I think is a useful resource when pointing out how claims of impending apocalypse are ten a penny and have always hitherto been wrong:

    Of note is the way claims of doom mutate over the centuries according to the mood of the time. Comet pills, anyone?

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      March 9, 2021 10:47 pm

      Great work Paul.

      Since the 18 months (from the later Charlie alarm) has now expired, can we ask/sue for our money back? Or will the date just be moved again?

  10. Penda100 permalink
    March 9, 2021 4:26 pm

    Just because these things haven’t happened yet doesn’t mean they never will. After all, who knows what the climate will be like when the Sun becomes a red giant. Although it’s a safe bet that the alarmists will blame it on CO2 molecules.
    Thanks Paul for another excellent piece of work.

    • Crowcatcher permalink
      March 9, 2021 7:16 pm

      I often envisage a time in the distant future when the dying, expanding sun has boiled nearly all of the earth’s water away, the last two men will sit beside the last pool of brackish water near one of the poles still arguing the merits and demerits of man-made, carbon dioxide based global warming!!!!

  11. March 9, 2021 4:43 pm

    Hi Paul, this is a really excellent paper and I shall share where I believe it has a chance of changing minds.

  12. Robin Guenier permalink
    March 9, 2021 5:17 pm

    Wonderful, Paul. Thank you.

  13. A man of no rank permalink
    March 9, 2021 5:50 pm

    Very entertaining Paul and at a level where all can understand. If this was the work of Greenpeace it would be proudly circulated to all schools. If anyone is rich enough to do this I suggest its marked FAO Science Department and certainly not Geographers, who will quickly bin it!

  14. tomo permalink
    March 9, 2021 6:33 pm

    OT – but well… related…

    We know Mister Harrabin likes his repetition -> legitimises….

    Could have saved himself some research?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 9, 2021 7:00 pm

      Now the reports are reduced to cartoons to avoid showing reality?

      • tomo permalink
        March 10, 2021 10:07 am

        … and then some.

        “while there were some oversights in reporting aspects of the topic, the content production values were top notch as one has come to expect from the world’s premier public service broadcaster”

  15. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 9, 2021 6:59 pm

    Excellent stuff. Good to have it all in one place, complete with references.

  16. Philip Wood permalink
    March 9, 2021 7:24 pm

    Thank you for that, Paul. These people always put the forthcoming apocalypse so far ahead that when the date they gave arrives most people have forgotten who or what they said. Unfortunately, the damage has been done as people accepted what was said as a reality and acted accordingly. Hence all this CC nonsense.

  17. March 9, 2021 8:56 pm

    No history of Climate Alarmism is complete without this:-

    House Of Lords 11th jan 1662
    The Fast to be observed in Westm. Abbey, and the Bp. of St. David’s to preach.
    ¶Whereas His Majesty hath been pleased, by Proclamation, upon the Unseasonableness of the Weather, to command a general and public Fast, to be religiously and solemnly kept, within the Cities of London and Westm. and Places adjacent: It is ORDERED, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled.

    Samuel Pepys 15 jan 1662
    fast day ordered by the Parliament, to pray for more seasonable weather; it having hitherto been summer weather, that it is, both as to warmth and every other thing, just as if it were the middle of May or June, which do threaten a plague (as all men think) to follow, for so it was almost the last winter; and the whole year after hath been a very sickly time to this day

    Perhaps we can get the Bishop of St David’s to preach, we are in the midst of a plague and the climate alarmists and David Attenborough have linked it to Climate Change. In 1662 Charles 2nd was on the Throne, we are waiting for Charles 3rd to become monarch.

  18. James Wilson permalink
    March 9, 2021 10:22 pm

    Great as usual. Interested about the 50 year difference between the oncoming ‘Ice Age’ and the present ‘Global Warming’. In the 1920’s there were those promoting ‘Global Warming’ and stating that we only had ten years to stop the destruction of the planet. 50 yrs, again? Maybe worth a look into? Many thanks for all your hard work.

  19. March 10, 2021 6:42 am

    Nice work, Paul. I don’t know where, or how, you find time to do all you do. If I had half the motivation, application and sheer ability for hard work that you have, in my long life I might have re-written the Bible three times, updated the Encyclopedia Britannica and authored the Complete History of the World.

  20. Cheshire Red permalink
    March 10, 2021 9:56 am

    Nicely done. Your report just confirms that we’re living in a fantasy world where feelings, emotions and ‘concerns’ trump actual observed reality at every turn.

    Where are the political grown-ups? Nowhere to be seen! Prime ministers and presidents everywhere are buying this garbage, despite mountains of evidence NOTHING AT ALL is wrong, unusual or anything remotely near to ‘catastrophic’.

    Idiotic times.

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