Talk:Hubert Lamb

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View on Jones and Wrigley[edit]

My addition of information on Lamb's opinion of Jones and Wrigley's work was reverted with an edit summary saying that the source isn't sufficient. The source is a book written by Fred Pearce, an established science and environmental journalist who is widely published. If that source isn't good enough, then I don't know what would be sufficient. Cla68 (talk) 22:50, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Sounds shallow[edit]

The article says, "He was originally known as the "ice man" for his prediction of global cooling and a coming ice age but, following the UK's exceptionally hot summer of 1976, he switched to predicting a more imminent global warming." He doesn't sound like much of a climatologist, if all it took to change his mind on this matter was one hot summer. Is there nothing more to climatology than standing outside and saying, "Mm, feels to me like an ice age (or a global warming event) is coming"? --Nigelj (talk) 08:11, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

I've revised the article a bit and think that's not so much of a problem now. However, as I recall the source suggests it was a series of summers that persuaded him, perhaps we can improve that. Maybe we should also find a source about the changing views of the time: Schneider in '71 supported the "ice age" hypothesis, then in '74 found less pollution / more CO2 warming effect than he'd allowed earlier, recalculated his work and retracted his earlier warning. It's possible that Lamb did something similar. . . dave souza, talk 12:52, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Have now gone over it and rephrased that part to make the timing of his developing ideas clearer, though it would still be nice to have more info about how Lamb's ideas changed. . . dave souza, talk 13:57, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
You won't find a good reference for this because it isn't true; in 1995, two years before his death, Lamb's "Climate, History and the Modern World" was republished as a second edition, and was just as scathing about AGW as ever. (talk) 15:52, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
In this 1995 second edition he writes (p.365) this about AGW: "The expected temperature changes have been widely announced in an ever-increasing volume of meteorological literature... The alarm that has been raised over the dislocation which such great changes would be liable to cause is entirely proper, even though the actual net outcome when natural climatic variations also have their effect is by no means certain... Despite the... uncertainties involved... the potential for disorganization and disaster is so great that the meteorologists' warnings must be taken as a very serious matter." So it's clear that he isn't universally scathing about AGW in 1995. However the "Climatic Research Unit" section does need improving since it implies that predictions of warming this century represent a "switch" from predictions of an ice age in the next 10,000 years. The final paragraph of the "Abrupt climate change and global warming" section already includes a quote from Lamb where he notes that these two predictions are not in conflict because of the different timescales involved. TimOsborn (talk) 15:46, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
The idea of a switch is stated in The History of the University of East Anglia, Norwich by Michael Sanderson, but I'm glad to accept that's a bit superficial and the newer wording works better for me. Can we add the point that in 1995 he commented that, despite uncertainty about AGW, "he potential for disorganization and disaster is so great that the meteorologists' warnings must be taken as a very serious matter."? . . dave souza, talk 17:02, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
Have now made a few improvements and fixed a few things. Long-term cooling towards a glacial period and century-scale greenhouse-gas-induced warming are now stated as separate, non-conflicting, views (i.e. consistent with the quote in the later paragraph). The overall structure could still do with some work, since both "Climatic Research Unit" and "Abrupt climate change" sections cover cooling towards the next glacial period as well as GHG-induced warming -- i.e. these sections are not clearly differentiated by content. TimOsborn (talk) 16:13, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
The two sections seem to relate to timing rather than content, though there's some overlap. Would it work to omit the second subsection heading, making it one section on Climatic Research Unit and later writings? Alternatively, "His warnings of damage..." could start a new paragraph which could include the paragraph on "Lamb's 1977 book" before a section on his revised views as shown in the 1984 and 1995 revised editions of his writings? . . dave souza, talk 17:02, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

Dubious info based loosely on Pearce[edit]

A recent addition to this article, which was removed, misrepresented Pearce's brief outline of "cast of characters" as well as being rather obviously incorrect. The addition "Lamb recruited Phil Jones and Tom Wigley, among others, to work at the CRU but later criticised their theories on man-made climate change as "simplistic."" changes "and others" to ", among others," implying more firmly that the next part applies to Jones and Wigley, and talks of "their simplistic theories of climate change", a statement by Pearce, not a quote from Lamb as the edit mistakenly suggests. Pearce then quotes Lamb as saying that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere "should raise the world's temperature, although the effect may be smaller, perhaps very much smaller, than is usually supposed." That's a quote from Lamb's 1984 speech, which I've outlined in the article. As far as I know, Jones and Wigley are associated with paleoclimate reconstructions, and are not theoreticians dealing with the effects of greenhouse gases. As far as I've found, the book doesn't give dates for them joining CRU, and the addition seems to be more to do with their biographies than with Lamb's. Better sourcing needed if they're to be mentioned. . . dave souza, talk 13:14, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Hubert Lamb, the Original Climate Skeptic?[edit]

An interesting article by science historian Bernie Lewin at Quadrant: The Original Climate Sceptics

Re Lamb, Lewin writes:

[Lamb] issued this warning to his fellow meteorologists in 1994:
'A precarious and threatening situation has developed for climatology: a tremendous effort was made to land research funds in all countries, mostly the USA, on the basis of frightening people about the possible drastic effect of Man’s activities, and so much has been said about climate warming that there will be an awkward situation if the warming doesn’t happen or not to the extent predicted.’ [Heh -- pt]
Today, it is not widely known that our global warming consensus once faced such a prominent critic. Indeed, Lamb was one of the earliest and most vocal sceptics. Folks are often also surprised to learn that Lamb’s response to the warming scare was far from unusual. Many of the other leaders in the field during the 1970s also grew concerned about its distorting influence. Alas, the more they said so, the more they were marginalised on the wrong side of an increasingly polarised debate.

Interesting stuff, and worthy of review for this article & elsewhere, imo. --Pete Tillman (talk) 00:56, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

" much has been said about climate warming that there will be an awkward situation if the warming doesn’t happen..." And if you read his earlier work, you will also hear Lamb say, "there is no necessary contradiction between forecast expectations of (a) some renewed (or continuation of) slight cooling of world climate for some years to come, e.g. from volcanic or solar activity variations; (b) an abrupt warming due to the effect of increasing carbon dioxide, lasting some centuries until fossil fuels are exhausted and a while thereafter; and this followed in turn by (c) a glaciation lasting (like the previous ones) for many thousands of years.” — TPX 01:33, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
Um. "[A] tremendous effort was made to land research funds in all countries, mostly the USA, on the basis of frightening people about the possible drastic effect of Man’s activities..." Clearer now? Cheers, Pete Tillman (talk) 02:56, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
Red flag: "Bernie Lewin’s Hubert Lamb and the Transformation of Climate Science is available online from the Global Warming Policy Foundation". Perhaps another case of Adoration of the Lamb? As TPX notes, Lamb's views were complex, and Sanderson states that around 1975–76 Lamb's "dire predictions" of a holocaust within a century helped shape public opinion, as well as raising research fund from insurance companies. Unfortunately, warming has indeed happened since 1994, so "Heh -- pt" is unwarranted snark. No doubt Lamb's early projections will look interesting in 2075. . . dave souza, talk 07:35, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
As DS notes, this is GWPF stuff, and as you'd expect, highly biased. So lets not taint Lamb's page with it.
Also, "science historian Bernie Lewin"? Never heard of him. Google points me at which is about "the origins and impacts of Global Warming Alarmism in the history and philosophy of science" - so, no pretence at objective history there, more gonzo journalism. That also disclaims any acadmeic credentials; so (if you have any care for your own credibility) be cautious about how you push credentials for others William M. Connolley (talk) 12:36, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Here is a response by Lewin that may assist a review of the Lamb entry --Bernardjlewin (talk) 02:23, 3 March 2016 (UTC)

Firstly, on the lingering influence of Sanderson:

May I suggest that an incidental and brief discussion in a general history of a university (i.e., of UEA by Sanderson) would not normally be regarded as an authority to over-ride more considered (and referenced) studies, let alone the actual words of the subject. And yet the article still clings to Sanderson even where the citation has been removed, as with the 'ice man' reference (I can find no contemporary source for this), and we are left with the suggestion that this is from Lamb himself! As for the 1975-6 UK drought causing Lamb to changing his views, the date reference is gone but still we have him going over to warming alarm: 'His warnings of damage to agriculture, ice caps melting, and cities being flooded...' (on his actual views, see below). As for funding by insurance companies, the first six CRU annual reports confirm Lamb's own account that the Nuffield Foundation and Shell were the founding sponsors, and that the Rockefeller and Wolfson Foundations came to the rescue after the 1974 funding crisis. Other notable funding was in Lamb's final year, where J Murray Mitchell mediated a grant from US NOAA (after which, the DoE 'Carbon Dioxide Program' took over, and increasing funding soon made it the major sponsor). The annual reports also confirm that it was not insurance companies but petroleum companies (firstly Shell) who were interested in Lamb/CRU's work; this was on North Sea Storms for their rig's safety design, and also the prediction of severe winters for energy use planning -- and Shell made specific grants accordingly. I recommend, firstly, that, if Sanderson is used in this Wiki article, then the citations are put back in. But, given the doubtful and somewhat irrelevant nature of information derived from Sanderson, it might be best to removal altogether Sanderson as an authority.

Secondly, back to Lamb on greenhouse warming:

Lamb's own discussions of greenhouse warming from 1972 through to his post-humorously published autobiography have been gathered here for the interest of scholarship and your reference.

Thirdly, Lamb on a cooling trend:

Lamb's discussions of global cooling are covered in my peer reviewed report for the GWPF and at my blog, which are both above referenced and discredited by Connolley (whom I thought had himself been discredited by the Wiki administration??). Lamb's views on European/Northern/Global cooling was confused in the press coverage of the controversy at the time and this seems to be the source of Sanderson's confusion and that of others. In fact, the way Lamb did actual change his view on this topic is much more interesting and also of enduring credit to his science. Let me briefly explain. Firstly, for orientation: his paper to the UNESCO 1961 Symposium on Climate Change (See here and Ch 3 in The Changing Climate, 1968) is important for giving a complex account of climate history and its variance across Europe from London to the Volga during the last 1000 years. In the 1960s, Lamb was early with the concern that the early-20th-Century warming (uniquely generalized across Europe) might only be a respite in a continuing unstable (and regionally variable) Little Ice Age. In the early 1970s others came to share this concern. However, the press coverage,especially in 1972-4, tends to confuse his moderate view with those of others that came to prominence at this time (e.g., Kukla, Calder) forecasting a fast return to a major ice age. When Lamb clarified, this did not always mean the reporter changed the headline, even where they quote Lamb responding with a 'Yes...the ice age will the next 10,000 years'! (See LA Times).

Finally, Lamb's change of view about cooling mid-1970s:

In 1975, Lamb's early tracking of the North Atlantic Oscillation (i.e., quasi-periodic prevalence of westerly winds across the UK) led him to change his forecast (See Nature). He now predicted that recent trend in mild winters might continue. This change of view he publicized one summer before the 1976 UK drought that got all the press and parliamentary attention. And it was not that he became partial to greenhouse warming. On the contrary, at this time his opposition only increased. This is indicated by his complete over reaction (in my opinion) to a London Times report of the WMO Climate Statement of 22 June 1976 -- letting himself be mislead by the article that the WMO had come out pushing global warming alarm, which it clearly had not. So, the likely origin of the Sanderson claim of a conversion claim show that, far from coming on board with the greenhouse warming concerns, Lamb was proposing an alternative natural explanation for recent warming (the NAO); and then, during the drought itself, it all seemed to get to him, and he came close to presenting a paranoid aversion for man-made warming alarm.

Is a fresh rewrite required?

I apologise for the lengthy nature of this complementary, but I am also aware that it is not appropriate for me to make direct changes considering my apparent vested interest. Anyway, it is good to see that there has been some improvement to the earlier distortions in this Wiki article. However, some distortion remains. The question should be asked afresh: what is most important in Lamb's legacy? Surely his actual views on the important topic of cooling/warming--its history, causation and his forecasts--are relevant to his Wiki biography. I am not sure what else can be done about the active avoidance of Lamb's skepticism so evident in the history of this article. If my extracted quotations cannot be trusted then I only encourage other Wiki editors to go to the sources in Lamb's own work and take a look for themselves. Lamb has very distinct and titled sections discussing the greenhouse hypothesis, and, so, I am confident his view will become clear to the reader. After doing so myself, I cannot find a more astute, a more thorough nor a more vocal skeptic of the greenhouse hypothesis among climatologists during the 1970s. --Bernardjlewin (talk) 02:23, 3 March 2016 (UTC) .