What are the origins of the global warming bandwagon

I have tried over the years to find a single point that birthed global warming as we know it. My guess has been that it originated during the Carter years possibly in the US Dept. of Energy. With the Trump ascendancy it seems timely to throw this open to readers to see what emerges. History of climate change science
Timeline – The Discovery of Global Warming – American Institute of Physics – Global Warming: How It All Began by Richard Courtney – A History of the Disastrous Global Warming Hoax by Alan Caruba March 2014 – The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5–16 in 1972. Global Warming or climate not mentioned in 26 bullet points

28 thoughts on “What are the origins of the global warming bandwagon”

  1. Yep, & the ever so convenient OPEC Oil Shock was a timely setting to work the oil market into more control & bigger profits.

  2. Hi Warwick,
    I know Delingpole calls Maurice Strong, the Godfather of Global Warming and has quite a bit in his book (Watermelons: How Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing your Children’s Future). In it, if I remember correctly, he describes Strong’s influence in making AGW a pseudo problem that must be tackled by forcing nations to answer to a one government state controlled by the United Nations.
    Delingpole also wrote about Strong here:

  3. I think it goes back a long way. I recall around 1983 giving a talk about the imposition of a carbon tax (based in equivalent carbon input to processes rather that CO2 output) and working out that concrete was one of the most energy efficient building materials (relative to steel, aluminium, bricks, wood etc). I also recall that John Howard in his first stint as opposition leader and the liberal party were completely against a carbon tax.

  4. > “I think it goes back a long way” (cementafriend)

    Agreed. I remember talking to my son well over 10 years ago on this topic. He was struggling with the notion of “global warming” in the face of various winter snow and ice events while trying to keep a functioning protective veneer of beliefs for his work and social “consensus”.

    I pointed out to him then that the phrase global warming would soon morph into “climate change”, especially in the MSM, to allow the agenda of propagandising the public to proceed more easily. And so it came to pass, of course.

    Don’t underestimate the impact of artful abuse of language. The very phrase “fossil fuels” is designed to conjure up the notion of dinosaurs lumbering to extinction. Try “hydrocarbons” instead; at the very least it can be discombobulating to the activists.

  5. Your third link (Courtney) details how Margaret Thatcher was the first politician to politicise the issue, and take it from a fairly well know theory (GHG warming) of unknown practical consequences to a political issue that required ‘action’.

    In the 1980s the UN realised it’s potential to increase their importance and revenues and set up the IPCC.

  6. Interesting question and easy to answer if confined to “global warming” that means a rise in air temperature. But the question is linked to “History of climate change science”, which requires a workable definition on CLIMATE. Has there been ever one?
    Talking about “average weather” is nonsense, and the latest one from WG1- IPPC (2013) either, when claiming that: “Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years.”
    Every combination within many dozen weather items, including temperatures, -from months to thousand or millions of years – fit into the IPCC definition. More here: www.whatisclimate.com/

    CLIMATE was a layman’s term well into the 1970s. According H.H. Lamb, (1969) explained: “Only thirty years ago climatology was generally regarded as the mere dry-as-dust bookkeeping end of meteorology”; and F. Kenneth Hare, said 1979; “This is obviously the decade in which climate is coming into its own. You hardly heard the word professionally in the 1940s. It was a layman’s word. Climatologists were the halt and the lame. And as for the climatologists in public service, in the British service you actually, had to be medically disabled in order to get into the climatological division ! Climatology was a menial occupation that came on the pecking scale somewhat below the advertising profession. It was clearly not the age of climate.“ www.whatisclimate.com/f.html

  7. A perspective I’ve never seen elsewhere is that all universities have a pool of graduates who hang around after graduation. They are not good enough to get academic positions and subsist on little more than odd jobs, the academics don’t want to do themselves.

    In the early 1970s, hardly anyone could program (it was viewed as singularly difficult) and the university hanger-ons were hired to program the new climate models.

    The alarming results from the models became the main basis for the AGW crisis as the IPCC admitted in it’s first report. Money and prestige flowed in and the rest is history.

  8. I note that Guy Callendar’s paper of 1938 was disputed but it did spark the realisation that the temperature in the Northern Hemisphere had risen in the previous 30 years. His claim that CO2 was the cause seems to have been mentioned as an idea during the training of a couple of generations of geologists.
    Callendar himself retracted his claim about CO2 in 1963 (after the severe winter in the UK in 1962) shortly before his death in 1964.

  9. RE: Philip Bradley January 26, 2017 at 7:23 am „A perspective …..all universities have a pool of graduates who hang around after graduation…… In the early 1970s, hardly anyone could program (it was viewed as singularly difficult) and the university hanger-ons were hired to program the new climate models. ”
    Another version could be as it follows: The “hang-around” presumably is partly also the result of World War II. All war parties needed weather observer. The USA trained several ten-thousand, many of them were generously supported after 1945, because militaries thought they need qualified reserves since the start of the East-West conflict, well beyond normal weather services. Quickly there were very qualified mathematicians, physics and chemists that regarded day-by-day meteorology too boring, and started modeling weather statistics since the 1960s. The famous result (but worthless notion) was the BUTTERFLY EFFECT by E. Lorenz, which nevertheless impressed world leader so much (…now I understand….) helping to pass the UNFCCC in Rio 1992.

    According MTI Technology Review (2011): “On a winter day 50 years ago, Edward Lorenz, SM ‘43, ScD ‘48, a mild-mannered meteorology professor at MIT, entered some numbers into a computer program simulating weather patterns and then left his office to get a cup of coffee while the machine ran. When he returned, he noticed a result that would change the course of science.”… “The unexpected result led Lorenz to a powerful insight about the way nature works: small changes can have large consequences. The idea came to be known as the “butterfly effect”
    Lorenz born in 1917 ….joined the Army Air Corps (after Pearl Harbor) and filled a growing military need by training as a weather forecaster at MIT, where the nation’s first meteorology curriculum had been established in 1928. After the war, he earned a doctorate in meteorology at MIT and largely stayed at the Institute until his death in 2008.

    MTI Technology Review (2011): www.technologyreview.com/s/422809/when-the-butterfly-effect-took-flight/

  10. NOOA says the first computer climate model was in the ‘late 1960s’. Which makes the early 1970s about the right timeframe for other universities to develop their own models.

    I did a couple of computer science classes in 1971 and 72, and hardly anything was standardized.

  11. I’ve heard a few plausible explanations. The first (my own) stems from the first paper to mention Global warming: Beoecker (175?).

    In this paper he was trying to explain the lack of predicted warming from the camp century cycles. These were an apparent regular warming and cooling – which had led researchers to conclude we were in for cooling (there are also other reasons).

    So, CO2 warming became a reason to explain the lack of predicted cooling. This I believe was the original scientific reason for giving it any credibility. And ironically the camp century cycles are now discredit – but in large part I suspect the whole ethos of “more warming than CO2 can produce on its own” – came from attempts to explain the lack of cooling.

    The second plausible explanation was the British coal dispute when Maggy Thatcher took on the unions controlling the coal mines. I think it was Lord Monckton that said she first became interested in CO2 because of this coal dispute. The reason was to undermine coal and get people like the BBC to support power from nuclear so that the coal unions, the power of the left in Britain, could be undermined and in so doing, Maggy could undermine the left and the unions in general.

    The other things that were important was the anti-capitalist movement – because energy is the life and blood of capitalism. The demise of the Berlin wall – which meant an end to the nuclear threat and in turn meant those like Green-spin no longer “great threat” to bring in the donations.

    Finally, we in the west saw an “agri-industry” movement. This led to the phase of “post-industrial society” – something that was not so much a statement of our society, but instead a wish by many to get rid of what they felt was “dirty industry”. In part, industry and coal was responsible for things like air pollution and needed to clean up (which it did from the 1970s). But the anti-industry, anti-engineering culture was something that many academics and those like the BBC positively campaigned to achieve.

    And again, CO2 is a proxy for energy, which in turn means attacking CO2 production is attacking heavy industry.
    (For more see: scottishsceptic.co.uk/2014/10/08/a-view-inside-the-public-sector-academic-mind/)

  12. Frank Stead, a high-ranking California state public-health official, thought he knew. It was “clearly evident,” he told TIME, that by 1980 the gasoline engine had to be completely replaced by electric power, and that in order to get there California would have to declare that gas-powered vehicles were banned in the state after 1980. Given that prediction, then, it is perhaps less surprising that TIME struck a somewhat optimistic note about the hope of turning back the tide on pollution and climate change

  13. Pollution from vehicles was indeed bad up until the introduction of the catalytic converter (1976 in the USA and Canada).

    Although it’s interesting to note that the start of the late 20th century warming coincided with the mandating of catalytic converters in N America and the rest of the world not long after.

    That and quite a bit of other evidence makes me think the late 20th century warming, to a large extent, resulted from aerosol reductions. Mainly by reducing seeding of persistent clouds by aerosols. Less clouds = more surface warming.

  14. As posted to Tallbloke’s blog …

    A timeline can be found at Bernie Lewin’s web page enthusiasmscepticismscience.wordpress.com/chronology-of-climate-change-science/. In fact all of his website is worth a read.

    For other information try scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/climate_science_corrupted.pdf.

    Bernie mentions the notion of CO2-driven warming being raised in 1953. The second reference cites a NYT article quoting Bert Bolin, first IPCC chairman, saying in 1958 that the world was going to warm because of CO2 (this despite knowing precious little about natural climate forcings).

    Don’t forget “A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change: The role of the intergovernmental panel on climate change” by Bert Bolin, Cambridge University Press, 2007. (ISBN of paperback: 978-0-521-08873-2)

  15. Dear Warwick Hughes:

    Thankyou for linking to my article which relates the origin of the political global warming scare that is posted on the website of the late John Daly.

    I provide a link to a copy of that item which has an inclusion of the explanation of my 1980 paper which predicted the AGE scare would happen. That version is at

    Many (notably the Club of Rome and Bert Bolin) had attempted and failed to create the political scare during the century before Mrs Thatcher (later Baroness Thatcher) created it in the early 1980s.

    My account (which you and I have both linked) states and explains;

    “The hypothesis of man-made global warming has existed since the 1880s. It was an obscure scientific hypothesis that burning fossil fuels would increase CO2 in the air to enhance the greenhouse effect and thus cause global warming. Before the 1980s this hypothesis was usually regarded as a curiosity because the nineteenth century calculations indicated that mean global temperature should have risen more than 1°C by 1940, and it had not. Then, in 1979, Mrs Margaret Thatcher (now Lady Thatcher) became Prime Minister of the UK, and she elevated the hypothesis to the status of a major international policy issue.”

    I hope this is helpful.


  16. Great to hear from you Richard. So the year 1979 was important indeed in this matter and on both sides of the Atlantic. It is interesting that Phil Jones was probably contracted by the US Dept of Energy in 1979 to compile his hemispheric temperature records which birthed “global warming” in the mid-1980’s. Seven years ago I blogged –
    “Is the US Dept of Energy still funding Professor Phil Jones ? 2 Feb 2010”
    The earliest DoE contract number I have found re Prof Jones is DE-ACO2-79EV10098 (note the 79 there) if you Google that contract # the first 4 links are to my pages.

    Thanks JohnM for the detailed Bernie Lewin timeline. I see the US DoE was only formed in 1977.
    1974 – US Energy Reorganization Act created the Energy Research and Development Organization
    1977 (March) US ERDA workshop on the Global Effects of Carbon Dioxide and the establishment of the Department of Energy – The new Department of Energy was established by the Carter Administration (by an Act)

  17. Don’t forget Rupert Darwall’s book entitled “The Age of Global Warming: A History”.
    The US nuclear industry started ganging up on coal in the 1970s. Thus the work on CO2 and plants at Oak Ridge. Also the deep ocean carbon dioxide monitoring is at Oak Ridge – at a nuclear lab when they should be doing thorium instead.

  18. For me an important aspect of this us to explore what conditions allowed AGW to strike a chord of gullibility in the first place. Where did we go wrong and become vulnerable to a meme so impervious to rational normal skeptical review? Who would have ever considered that outside of religion and UFO cults that being called a skeptic would a term of condemnation?

  19. Interesting points hunter – I find it revealing that way back in 1986 when the two Prof Phil Jones & team hemispheric papers launched global warming as we know it – there was not a solitary comment in the Journal of Applied Meteorology. Not a peep.
    My 20th Anniversary review of the two giant 1986 Jones et al papers
    has much info – if you checkout various issues of “Journal of Applied Meteorology” for 1986 you will often see Comments and discussion about papers and meteorological issues. For example the Feb 1986 issue has discussion “Comments on “Sahel: The Changing Rainfall Regime and the ‘Normals’ Used for its Assessment” and a reply. All normal scientific to and fro.

    Yet when these two monster papers appeared not one ‘Comment’ was published. Despite a litany of contentious points. The only contra material published in those early days was the 1988 paper by Fred Wood in another journal.

    I am left with the view that there was some official smoothing of the way for these papers and academia was largely silent.

  20. Giving the Origins in US DoE during Carter years is close but actually it started just before DoE and before Carter. It came in the wake of the demise of the Atomic Energy Commision and it built up under generous DoE research funding while Carter and the press were still preoccupied with the impact of cold winters on the energy crisis. David Archibald is right about the importance of Nuclear against coal and of Oak Ridge. I have a book-length report explaining all coming out soon for GWPF.

  21. The Velikovsky affair occurred during the 1970’s involving Sagan who theorised that Venus was hot not due to being recently formed, but from a runaway greenhouse effect.

    Jim Hansen was a pHd student of Sagan’s and his research was on the Venusian atmosphere.

    I suspect it carried on from there….

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