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Help! A Short History of Climate Alarmism

Global Warming Policy Forum

A GWPF reader’s guide to failed predictions 

One of the perennial sources of amusement among sceptics is to look back at the crazy things scientists and activists were saying about global warming back in the early days, when the scaremongering first kicked off.

Who can forget, for example, James Hansen’s notorious speculation in 1988 that large chunks of Manhattan would disappear under the rising waters in the first decades after the millennium? Fortunately, being a thick-skinned fellow, the failure of even small chunks of New York to disappear in the last thirty years since seems to have dented his confidence not one jot, and he cheerfully fends of allegations of alarmism, putting them down to the ignorance of the general public. 

Or what about climate scientist David Viner at the University of East Anglia who told the Independent 20 years ago – apparently with a straight face – that snowfall was going to become “a very rare and exciting event” and that children “just aren’t going to know what snow is”? That one hasn’t turned out too well either.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the first IPCC report in August 1990, we thought it was time to look again at some of climate science’s finest scare-mongering predictions from back in the early days, and to see how things have turned out in reality.

To that end, we are preparing “A short history of climate alarmism” — with the help of our readers.

We are inviting you to send us papers, news articles and web links to 1980-90s climate predictions that we should include. You are of course welcome to send us your thoughts about what the observational data today is telling us about reality. There are no prizes, but a GWPF guide to the most notorious and failed predictions in recent decades should provide hours of fun. 

Send your suggestions and links to

Thank you for your help and contribution.

The GWPF team