Scientist who popularized term "global warming" dies at 87

Scientist who popularized term "global warming" dies at 87
In this Nov. 21, 2008, file photo, Wallace Smith Broecker, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University in New York, addresses the audience during the Balzan prize ceremony in Rome. Broecker, a climate scientist who popularized the term "global warming," has died. He was 87. Columbia University said the longtime professor and researcher died Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, at a New York City hospital. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

A scientist who raised early alarms about climate change and popularized the term "global warming" has died. Wallace Smith Broecker was 87.

The longtime Columbia University professor and researcher died Monday at a New York City hospital, according to a spokesman for the university's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Kevin Krajick said Broecker had been ailing in recent months.

Broecker brought "" into common use with a 1975 article that correctly predicted rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would lead to pronounced warming. He later became the first person to recognize what he called the Ocean Conveyor Belt, a global network of currents affecting everything from air temperature to rain patterns.

"Wally was unique, brilliant and combative," said Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer. "He wasn't fooled by the cooling of the 1970s. He saw clearly the unprecedented warming now playing out and made his views clear, even when few were willing to listen."

In the Ocean Conveyor Belt, cold, in the North Atlantic sinks, working like a plunger to drive an ocean current from near North America to Europe. Warm surface waters borne by this current help keep Europe's climate mild.

Otherwise, he said, Europe would be a deep freeze, with average winter temperatures dropping by 20 degrees Fahrenheit or more and London feeling more like Spitsbergen, Norway, which is 600 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Broecker said his studies suggested that the conveyor is the "Achilles heel of the climate system" and a fragile phenomenon that can change rapidly for reasons not understood. It would take only a slight rise in temperature to keep water from sinking in the North Atlantic, he said, and that would bring the conveyor to a halt. Broecker said it is possible that warming caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases could be enough to affect the ocean currents dramatically.

"Broecker single-handedly popularized the notion that this could lead to a dramatic 'tipping point' and, more generally, Broecker helped communicate to the public and policymakers the potential for abrupt climate changes and unwelcome 'surprises' as a result of climate change," said Penn State professor Michael Mann.

In 1984, Broecker told a House subcommittee that the buildup of greenhouse gases warranted a "bold, new national effort aimed at understanding the operation of the realms of the atmosphere, oceans, ice and terrestrial biosphere."

"We live in a climate system that can jump abruptly from one state to another," Broecker told the Associated Press in 1997. By dumping into the atmosphere huge amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, "we are conducting an experiment that could have devastating effects."

"We're playing with an angry beast—a climate system that has been shown to be very sensitive," he said.

Broecker received the National Medal of Science in 1996 and was a member of the National Academy of Science. He also served a stint as the research coordinator for Biosphere 2, an experimental living environment turned research lab.

Broecker was born in Chicago in 1931 and grew up in suburban Oak Park.

He joined Columbia's faculty in 1959, spending most of his time at the university's laboratory in Palisades, New York. He was known in science circles as the "Grandfather of Climate Science" and the "Dean of Climate Scientists."

"His discoveries were fundamental to interpreting Earth's climate history," said Oppenheimer. "No scientist was more stimulating to engage with: he was an instigator in a good way, willing to press unpopular ideas, like lofting particles to offset change. But it was always a two-way conversation, never dull, always educational. I'll miss him."


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Feb 19, 2019
So he was a denier in the 70's when many of the scientists of the day were predicting global cooling. But now some people are reverencing him?

Maybe some of you should take heed and when some people think differently than you, be gentle and politely debate differences.

Feb 19, 2019
We will if you do. But you won't so we don't.

Feb 19, 2019
be gentle and politely debate differences
Bart wants to create this narrative - that deniers are polite people - who have a difference of opinion - and should be 'debated.' Interesting question. On this thread - https://phys.org/...ant.html You see one denier saying there is no warming, and another saying it is warming, but that is a good thing. There is volumes of science to support the reality - that both of those (contradictory) positions - are easily factually refuted. Refuting them - does no good. Grandpa, Thorium boy - will ignore the factual refutation - and pop right up on the next thread - repeating the lies.
And asserting that deniers are interested in reasoned debate is rubbish. Here is Willie Ward (prolific denier troll) talking about supporters of renewable energy
a bunch of psychotics/paranoids/schizophrenics brainwashed by green sociopaths

cont.

Feb 19, 2019
So he was a denier in the 70's when many of the scientists of the day were predicting global cooling. But now some people are reverencing him?

No. Most scientists predicted global warming in the '70s, so he was in line with the majority (https://skeptical...970s.htm ). Besides, rejecting the majority opinion doesn't, in and of itself, make one a denier. It's rejecting the data (especially overwhelming data like there is for global warming/climate change) that makes one a denier. That's why you're a denier - whether of evolution or of climate change/global warming.

Feb 19, 2019
cont. What is important for me - is understanding the frustration and anger that I experience - and I think is pretty representative of those of us who come to a science site - to read about science - and to hope that this science will be used to inform our process as a species. What we see is an incredible level of ignorance - and arrogance. We call it Dunning Kruger. Too stupid to know that you are stupid - but willing to jeopardize the future of the human race - based on political ideology. In a recent thread - Surveillance Egg - called me a 'globalist.' Egg knows nothing of my political views. I am certainly not a 'globalist.' MR166 calls me a 'socialist.' Again - total rubbish. So the perennial question - is how to deal with trolls. Many think ignore them. I think hit back - and at least let you know that we see you - and are willing to counter.

Feb 19, 2019
"Bart wants to create this narrative - that deniers are polite people"

Bart, like most of the people were who actually think about things, arrived as a polite person. Bart tries to remain polite. As opposed to nuclear Willie, who despite most of his posts, is bang on with the one quoted above about the media educated clones.

"It's rejecting the data "

Link any paper and the text it contains showing where the heat trapped in a CO2 molecule is somehow transferred to the atmosphere. If it is a valid transfer mechanism, I will never post anything about climate here again. If it isn't....well who cares I am just a "denier" anyways right chuckleheads?

Feb 19, 2019
theredpill
is bang on with the one quoted above about the media educated clones
So when deniers use terms like
psychotics/paranoids/schizophrenics brainwashed by green sociopaths
That is acceptable polite discourse. But we better not call a denier - a denier.

On your point about energy transfer. I am not a chemist or physicist. I cannot talk to you about such detailed issues as transfer of heat from one molecule to another. What I can tell you - is that the vast majority of scientists - who could have that discussion with you - are in full agreement - that solar radiation from the sun - does cause the atmosphere to warm. Here is the kind of link that is on a level I can handle - https://www.ucsus...6RehKiM8

I am sure this information would be in line with any basic college text on climate. So what are your credentials for disagreeing with the scientific community?

Feb 19, 2019
Who was that comedian on Letterman who did the crackpot scientist schtick? Somebody here posted a link.

That guys a dead ringer.

Feb 19, 2019
Here he is.
https://youtu.be/RHlLmYVCzKY

-Obvious resemblance wot?

Feb 19, 2019
Liar.. Liar.. Pants on fire...

"in the 70's when many of the scientists of the day were predicting global cooling." - Bart A

No scientists in the 70's were predicting global cooling.

Why do you feel a need to lie about it?

Feb 19, 2019
Ghost of Otto... Here he is.

https://media1.te...=5924687

Feb 20, 2019
cont. What is important for me - is understanding the frustration and anger that I experience - and is pretty representative of those of us who come to a science site - to read about science - and to hope that this science will be used to inform our process as a species. What we see is an incredible level of ignorance - and arrogance. We call it Dunning Kruger. Too stupid to know that you are stupid - but willing to jeopardize the future of the human race - based on political ideology. In a recent thread - Surveillance Egg - called me a 'globalist.' Egg knows nothing of my political views. I am certainly not a 'globalist.' MR166 calls me a 'socialist.' Again - total rubbish. So the perennial question - is how to deal with trolls. Many think ignore them. I think hit back - and at least let you know that we see you - and are willing to counter.

says greeno

So I take it that you won't be voting to elect US Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialist?

Feb 20, 2019
Liar.. Liar.. Pants on fire...

"in the 70's when many of the scientists of the day were predicting global cooling." - Bart A

No scientists in the 70's were predicting global cooling.

Why do you feel a need to lie about it?
says Vendicar

I think it was SpookyOtto who asked you (some time ago) whether or not you are Scott Nudds.
So, are you Scott Nudds aka Vendicar Decarrion (according to old physorg phorums I've read).
Why do you seem to be obsessed with pants on fire? Are you still in kindergarten?

Feb 20, 2019
Global cooling was a conjecture during the 1970s of imminent cooling of the Earth's surface and atmosphere culminating in a period of extensive glaciation. Press reports at the time did not accurately reflect the full scope of the debate in the scientific literature.[1] The current scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth underwent global warming throughout the 20th century and continues to warm.[2]

Feb 20, 2019
The Broecker led 1975 NAS/NSC report "Climatic Change: a Program for Action" (read it!) was clear science didn't know enough to predict global cooling in the 1970's. THAT was the real mainstream science at the time, which government policy got based on. It recommended a science program that would answer the question of whether we could mess up the climate enough to worry about.

That science program (on the back of existing atmospheric research) worked - but finding out exactly why we don't have to worry about global cooling was not quite as reassuring as people hoped.

The science on climate has been very long running and mostly had bipartisan support - before it told us what we really didn't want to hear - that we have a serious global warming problem.

The cooling hype gave climate science a real profile and funding boost - thanks global cooling scare. (Seriously thank you - we really needed to know what our single most abundant waste product does; ignorance is not bliss).

Feb 20, 2019
So now there is one of more US politicians of the Democrat variety who are scheming to prevent Methane from cows farting. Cattle have 4 stomachs so that as they digest their grass or grain, they produce a LOT of Methane, which is emitted into the atmosphere. US Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez wants to end that emission. How she will do it is a puzzler.
However, she would also have to prevent elephants, hippos, rhinos, and even dogs and cats - and, of course, humans.
Now Methane is about 4 times worse than CO2, but there doesn't seem to be as much importance placed on it by the mainstream media. It is surprising that Miss Ocasio-Cortez would bring it up as one of her platforms.
Will she insist on killing all grass-eating cows, horses, elephants, etc.? And will she get it done sooner than in 12 years when we will all be dead - according to her?

Feb 20, 2019
"I am sure this information would be in line with any basic college text on climate. So what are your credentials for disagreeing with the scientific community?"

I ask for a link with the appropriate text in quotes about how the heat trapped by CO2 actually makes into the rest of the atmosphere to warm it, and I get a link on solar irradiance and a statement of belief in the people who told him CO2 will warm the earths atmosphere. Furthermore, you are at a "science" site and do not understand what transparency to wavelengths means but want to ask for "credentials"..... Too funny.

Anyone else pick up on the fact that nobody can actually do it? ( Show HOW CO2 can heat the atmosphere that is).....

Feb 20, 2019
theredpill
I ask for a link with the appropriate text in quotes about how the heat trapped by CO2 actually makes into the rest of the atmosphere to warm it
And I explained that I am not a chemist/physicist - to be able to answer that question. What I also explained is that the current scientific consensus - is that solar radiation does warm the atmosphere. I asked what your credentials are for disagreeing with the body of science. I would also ask what your explanation for the current warming trend is. The earth - and the atmosphere are warming - that is a fact. Scientists believe that the current warming trend is explained by the loading of the atmosphere with GHG. If you assert that is not the explanation - then provide your explanation - with references.

Feb 21, 2019
"And I explained that I am not a chemist/physicist - to be able to answer that question."

Well, since we cannot move past why you believe CO2 can warm air other than "I believe the science" ....when you freely admit you don't understand the science...whereas I understand the science...which actually says for itself that CO2 cannot heat the rest of the molecules in the atmosphere, I guess you are just another "science buff" who just doesn't understand science.

" The earth - and the atmosphere are warming "

Not according to NASA since 2016...even with the "smoothed data". Yet another physical impossibility if CO2 drives atmospheric warming and is ever increasing in concentration...oops, there's that whole science you don't understand rearing it's ugly head again....

Feb 21, 2019
whereas I understand the science...which actually says for itself that CO2 cannot heat the rest of the molecules in the atmosphere,


No, you quite obviously do not understand it. Just like everything else you comment on.

Feb 21, 2019
Jones, you are an idiot who is not worth engaging, you have been proving this for as long as I have been here which is why you are on ignore...and will always be on ignore. Your parents told me it was the best thing to do to you....I figured they would know since they have had the most practice at it.

Feb 21, 2019
Jones, you are an idiot who is not worth engaging, you have been proving this for as long as I have been here which is why you are on ignore...and will always be on ignore. Your parents told me it was the best thing to do to you....I figured they would know since they have had the most practice at it.


So, the dickhead has no answers then! As expected. Science isn't his strong suit. Carbon dioxide (among others) having more than one bond, unlike O2 and N2, absorbs IR and re-radiates it back to the surface. This is why Venus is way hotter than its heliocentric distance would suggest it should be. Because it has a shit load of CO2 in its atmosphere. It has no way of getting rid of that CO2. On Earth there is a carbon cycle, that rains the stuff out of the atmosphere, from whence it finds its way to oceans, where it ends up solidified at depth. It is recycled at subduction zones via volcanism. High school science. Beyond the redpillock.

Feb 21, 2019
Jones, you are an idiot who is not worth engaging....


Translation; "I don't understand enough science to debate you. You always show me up."

Feb 21, 2019
Which to trust? The top level expertise that, say, the US National Academies of Sciences draws on to assess and make sense of complex science or theredpill's self-claimed superior understanding? Truly that is not even a choice!

Can't prove raised CO2 causes warming to theredpill, so that proves it is wrong! But how can anyone prove anything to someone for whom a couple of years of surface temps going down - following 5 straight years of going up, btw, to new highs - constitutes evidence there is no global warming? So, if we endure a few weeks of cool weather in Spring, would that prove that the axial tilt theory of Earth's seasons is false - and we won't ever see another Summer?

I don't know why phys.org articles - excellent and informative, about what real science is learning about real climate change - should attract these pseudonymous counter-experts.

theredpill - I think you are so full of misunderstandings you have no room left for the real thing.

Feb 21, 2019
theredpill
.whereas I understand the science
Awesome - could you link to the papers you have published? Also please link to published papers that demonstrate that C02 cannot warm the atmosphere. Here is information on a level I can understand - https://www.lives...rth.html

You see - saying "I understand the science - therefore all other scientists are wrong," - makes you pretty stupid. Saying "I have a lay man's understanding of the science - and therefore go the the doctor when I get sick." - makes me smarter than you.

Now - back to those papers you have had published.

Feb 28, 2019
Which to trust? The top level expertise that, say, the US National Academies of Sciences draws on to assess and make sense of complex science or theredpill's self-claimed superior understanding? Truly that is not even a choice!

Can't prove raised CO2 causes warming to theredpill, so that proves it is wrong! But how can anyone prove anything to someone for whom a couple of years of surface temps going down - following 5 straight years of going up, btw, to new highs - constitutes evidence there is no global warming? So, if we endure a few weeks of cool weather in Spring, would that prove that the axial tilt theory of Earth's seasons is false - and we won't ever see another Summer?

I don't know why phys.org articles - excellent and informative, about what real science is learning about real climate change - should attract these pseudonymous counter-experts.


Very well said.

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