Climate change: What they were saying, 1968

While waiting amid the smoky skies for some clouds…

In 1968, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) published a Monograph, Volume 8, No. 30, to be exact.   Monographs are special collections of papers on a particular subject representing experts in the field and their purpose is to bring the scientific community up to date on the progress in that field.  This particular monograph was entitled, The Causes of Climatic Change. The Editor of this collection was J. Murray Mitchell, a world renown climate expert.  There were 18 papers by various experts in the field of climate.  Not ONE of those papers addressed the influence of carbon dioxide!

Only in the concluding remarks, does J. Murray Mitchell mention that we have to keep an eye on CO2 because it still may rear its head in modifying climate.

Why was there not a single paper on CO2 in that 1968 AMS volume on climate change?

There were papers being published in journals about the possible influence of CO2 on climate.  However, while CO2 was increasing drastically during the 20th Century, the global temperature had begun  declining slightly for about 20-25 years (from the early 1940s) when this monograph was published.   So, while it was known that CO2 COULD warm the climate, something else was going on in those days even as CO2 increased.

Most troubling in the context of falling global temperatures, as Mitchell points out in his concluding remarks, is that the causes of ice ages were not understood.  Several theories were put forth in this volume, such as  “galactic dust” having reduced solar radiation, but none were satisfactory in those days.

SO with the earth’s temperature in decline, it is not surprising that CO2 was “off the radar”, or very distant at that time, and with a cooling underway, that theories about the causes of ice ages seemed to be more important.

That situation was not much changed into the mid-1970s where in the National Academy assessment of Climate and Weather Modification:  Problems and Progress, we find the NAS panel noting the “recent equatorward shift in ice boundaries.”