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The climate change choir: Tunes from the past


We're baaaaaaack.

Where were we? 
 
We went where no reporters have gone before -- back in time.

And we returned with the scoop -- the truth behind the real causes of climate change and the cause of the climactic havoc that's engulfed the world.

"Freak storms, massive droughts, killer hurricanes..."

"What's causing this crazy weather?" we asked, and so did Maclean's magazine. 
 
In its New Year's '66  issue. 
 
The one with the cover story Naming the Outstanding Canadians of 1965.

Sixty-five had been bad. Real bad. Ten inches of snow on Sydney, Nova Scotia (when they still had inches). Rainmakers called in to help the parched Ottawa Valley. New York City banning the "unnecessary" flushing of toilets to preserve water. But so much rain on Quebec that housewives, (when they still had housewives) formed societies against artificial rainmaking.

Ontario set all-time low temperatures in August. California had twice the normal rainfall. Hurricane Betsy was the most destructive storm ever.

"Since implications are tremendous for birds, fish, animals and plants---and therefore for our whole economy---North Americans were posing a basic and vital question when they asked," Is our weather changing?" Meanwhile, scientists were asking a question that is even more ominous. "Is it something that man is doing that is altering weather patterns?"

Like we haven't heard that before.

Maclean's, the voice of Canada, stopped at nothing to get the answer to those burning questions.

"Chief Walking Eagle, an aged Indian who has predicted the weather accurately for the past five years is certain of it. At Rocky Mountain House, Alta., recently, he explained, "The white man is getting too big and rich. Manitou does not like this and he gives bad weather."

Uh, right. 

Maclean's went to climatologists for a second opinion. That's where we twigged to the cutting edge of scientific thought on climate change (1966-style). 
Atom Bombs.

Yes, there you have it.

"In 1961 and 1962, the U.S. and the USSR detonated a series of nuclear bombs, one of them (Russian) exceeding fifty megatons---the biggest man-made explosions in history. The following winter was Europe's worst ever. Snow even fell on the French Riviera."

Dr.Walter Mitschfeld, head of the Department of Meteorology at McGill expounded on his theory of how A-bombs are responsible for changing weather.  It had something to do with electrifying dust particles in the upper atmosphere, upsetting "the delicate balance" of ultra-violet reaching earth, and radiating the Equator where cyclones and hurricanes are born. The only thing missing is cosmic rays and the Fantastic Four.

"The possible effects are enormous," declared Maclean's.

"We just don't have enough statistical data to know whether this is freak weather or a new trend," said M.K. Thomas, department chief of climatology at the meteorological branch of the federal Department of Transport in Toronto. (Now there's a title) "But we're not as certain as we once were that human actions could not be causing changes," he said.

How to tell?  Robert M. White, head weatherman for the United States government (now that's a better title), said that "computers" might soon answer those questions.  Hooray, mid-Sixties computers to the rescue!

But already scientists had detected global warming. Kinda.

"Between 1900 and 1935, the mean January temperature of Dawson City, Yukon, rose a startling ten degrees. (Oddly, however, it is now almost back to the turn-of-century low.)" said Maclean's.  
 
Yeah, odd.
 
You want odd? Well, "two eminent U.S. scientists", William L. Donn, geologist, and Maurice Ewing, oceanographer, said the "melting of Arctic ice would, ironically, precipitate a new ice age over North America."

Thick ice at the Pole blocks northerly winds, or something. "Therefore," said Donn, "the rapidly thinning six feet of ice over the Arctic Ocean is all that's saving us from another ice age."

Obviously, there wasn't yet the "consensus" about global warming. But already it didn't look good.

"...it could mean the virtual end of civilization. For, as the late British climatologist, C.E.P. Brooks has calculated, a worldwide rise of only two degrees in the annual temperature would melt enough ice to flood most of the world's coastal cities." warned Maclean's.

"Some of the hottest arguments between weather experts have arisen over temperature changes. Experts begin by agreeing there is at least one non-nuclear human activity that could be affecting the weather: the burning of plant-remains such as coal and oil."

Gasp.  48 years ago.  They knew.

A concentration of carbon dioxide and ozone, gases that absorb solar radiation, "could certainly raise the temperature." explained the magazine.

"Some U.S. physical chemists insist that the quantity of carbon dioxide in the air has risen by thirteen percent in the last century. By 2000 A.D., they claim, there will be enough to raise much of North America's temperature by as much as six degrees."

Oh no.
If we don't stop this madness by the year 2000 we're all going to die.

 Heed our warning.

 If you can't trust scientists and computers, who can you trust?

Just ask Manitou.
 
Postscript What? 2000 was 14 years ago?  And the world hasn't come to an end? And last year was the coldest winter in over a hundred years?  And we missed it?  Well, damn.

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