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Monday, May 20, 2019

HUBERT LAMB, 1913 to 1997 -- "‘The greatest climatologist of his time’

1913 to 1997 

Hubert Lamb 
devoted his career 
to the use of 
historic and/or 
climate proxy data,
to develop a picture 
of climate change
over recent centuries.

The record provided us
with much evidence 
of profound changes,
completely contradicting
the infamous, bogus
Mann Hockey Stick Chart
that Sl Gore still loves !

Lamb claimed a 
good understanding
of pre-20th century 
climate changes
was required before one 
could identify the role 
humans played
in climate change. 

Lamb’s approach 
was resisted
by many scientists 
in the earth science 
community, in the 
1960s and 1970s.

At the time, geophysics 
was emphasized,
over geology.

And in meteorology, computer 
modeling, and statistical studies, 
were emphasized over traditional
multidisciplinary approaches
used by Lamb. 

Lamb tried to sidestep 
this movement by leaving 
the Meteorological Office 
and going to the University
of East Anglia.

There, he became 
the founding director 
of the Climatic 
Research Unit 
( he retired as CRU director in 1978 ).

At the time, in climatology, 
emphasis was shifting 
to man made 
climate change, 
caused by industrial 
CO2 emissions.

Natural climate variability, 
in progress for 4.5 billion years,
was what Lamb emphasized.

Many other scientists arbitrarily
decided natural climate change
was just unimportrant "noise".

The interest in controlling 
man made climate change 
provided funding for the CRU.

Unfortunately, the money 
steered attention away 
from natural causes
of climate change.

Lamb openly expressed
his skepticism, 
on the new emphasis,
on man made
climate change, 
and computer models.

When Lamb died in 1997, 
the then director of CRU, 
Trevor Davies, 
described Lamb as 
‘the greatest 
of his time’.

In Lamb's obituary, 
Davies tells how 
Lamb experienced 
‘the satisfaction 
of convincing 
the remaining 
of the reality 
of climate 
on time-scales 
of decades 
and centuries".

Lamb was not 
the first scientist
to introduce 
the idea of a 

Lamb was a skeptic,
with a guarded attitude 
to the importance of 
greenhouse warming.

We should expect 
a guarded attitude, 
towards attributing 
climate change 
to a new cause.

Lamb was an 
outspoken critic 
of the way politics 
was transforming 
climate science. 

Previous work towards 
the development of climate
forecasting, was swept aside 
for computer models of the 
imagined risk of a global
warming catastrophe.

The old orthodoxy was 
of an unchanging climate – 
random variability 
about a norm.

Lamb traced past climatic 
trends through historical 
and archaeological evidence,
while others rushed to develop
computer models, based on 
unproven physics theories. 

The global warming scare,
based on unverified computer
models, got almost all the 
media attention and 
government funding.

The International 
Organization’s 1935 
recommendation was that
the first three decades 
of the 20th century 
should be considered a 
‘climatic normal period’. 

This "standard" lasted 
into the early 1960s.

Lamb recalled how solar forcing 
suddenly went out of fashion 
in the 1930s, after forecasts 
based on the sunspot cycle 
by senior British meteorologists, 
turned out to be very wrong.

By the late 1960s,
Lamb was convinced 
that historical documents 
would continue to provide 
vital climate details 
unavailable elsewhere. 

Sources were 
agricultural records, 
shipping records and 
anecdotal descriptions 
of most extreme 
climate events.

During the 1960s, 
the main concern
was with industrial 

There was ambivalence 
to whether greenhouse 
warming would be 
a good thing, with the 
promise of longer 
growing seasons, and 
fewer harsh winters.

Concern about 
greenhouse gas 
dominated later, 
in the 1970s.

Lamb’s discussion 
on CO2 started with 
the old argument,
that current levels 
of water vapor 
and carbon dioxide 
already block 
most of the radiation, 
so any additional 
CO2 would have 
little effect. 

Lamb’s final,
and strongest
was the pause 
in warming during 
the post-World War II 
economic boom, 
despite rapidly 
rising atmospheric 
CO2 levels.

Until global 
warming started,
roughly in 1975, 
it was difficult
to demonize 
man made CO2.

The man made CO2 emphasis 
started in 1970, when a group 
of 70 invited US scientists 
participated in a month-long 
live-in workshop, to produce 
a Study of Critical Environmental 
Problems (SCEP), under the 
leadership of an energy 
strategist at Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology, 
Carroll Wilson. 

But they provided
little solid data, 
or strong conclusions, 
to support climate alarm
over man made CO2.

Professor of 
sciences at 
Lancaster University,
Gordon Manley, 
had been developing 
the world’s longest 
monthly mean 
temperature series, 
the now famous 
Central England 
Temperature Record. 

Lamb’s millennium charts 
for central England 
are also famous.

It was very difficult 
to attract the money 
needed for 
establishing the past 
climate record. 

The "glamour" of the 
much more expensive work, 
of the computer modellng 
laboratories, got attention 
and funding in the 1970s.

Then there were new 
sedimentary and 
ice core data 
giving more 
accurate timing 
of the various 

The cycles of the ice ages
fitted cyclic changes 
in the earth’s rotation known 
as the Milankovi cycles. 

Meaning a return
to ice-age conditions, 
on a geological scale,
was expected 
to be the next
major climate change 
-- one climate change
that really mattered !

Some scientists claimed
man made aerosols --
air pollution that blocked
sunlight -- would
accelerate cooling, 
perhaps significantly,
in our lifetimes !

But then global warming 
started in the mid-1970s.

In the absence of 
empirical evidence,
global circulation models 
were used to investigate
the 'CO2 is evil' theory.

In the hot, dry
summer of 1988, 
Great Britain's 
Prime Minister 
Margaret Thatcher
decided to embrace 
global warming alarm, 
and the UN's IPCC 
was born.

Lamb remained concerned,
in the last years of his life,
that alarming global warming 
forecasts were arbitrarily 
established as a "fact"

The old dogma of an 
unchanging climate 
before the mid-20th century,
a false belief that 
Lamb fought with data, 
resurfaced as the new
doctrine of anthropogenic 
( man made ) 
climate change. 

Lamb was not the first 
scientist to challenge 
the old orthodoxy 
of climate stability, with 
natural climate change 
claimed to be 
meaningless "noise",
although he may have 
been the last.

Lamb did help establish 
the idea of a naturally
changing climate. 

In 2006,  the CRU building 
was renamed in Lamb's honor,  
and he was in the ‘top 100 
world-changing discoveries, 
innovations and research 
projects to come out of 
the UK universities’ for the 
innovation of establishing 
‘climate change as a 
serious research subject'.