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Weather Bureau study found climate warming

Joseph B. Kincer, chief of the division of climate and crop weather at the Weather Bueau in Washington, had this to say to a Sun reporter:

"Our study, based on authentic statistical data, definitely proves that the climate generally has been growing noticeably milder," he said. "The temperature and other records are supplemented by our knowledge of the accelerated melting of the polar ice caps. Those middle-aged and elderly folk who claim the winters today are decidedly less severe than when they were young are not deceived."

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"As a matter of fact, this long-time trend is national and, indeed, international," Kincer told The Sun. 

"In making our study," he continued, "other weather features directly related to general temperature conditions were examined, such as the occurence of frost in the autumn and spring; the number of winter days with certain low temperatures; the length of winters as indicated by first and last frost, and the like."

"Each one of these factors, closely studied, confirms the general contention that we have been in a period of  abnormal warmth; a period which has come on gradually for many years."

"It has often been suggested," Kincer went on, "that tendencies to abnormally high temperature records in recent years may be more apparent than real, in that the data cited usually are taken from large cities where the thermometers may have been affected unduly by artificial influences that do not obtain in the open country (where presumably the older folks spent their childhoods)."

"We have examined this phase of the matter and find that the suggestion is not well taken," he said. "It so happens that continuous, dependable cooperative records, made in the open country or in small communities, are available for comparison with nearby city records. If anything, at least in some places, an even more pronounced upward trend exists in the cooperative data than in those for the nearby first-order city weather station."

So who is this guy Kincer? And why does he talk so funny?

Okay, the jig's up. These passages come from an article in The Sun by Herbert Hollander, published on Nov. 28, 1937.

And while Kincer may be credited for foreshadowing a trend that only decades later became a hot scientific controversy and an even hotter political potato, he did not make the connection between global warming and changes in the composition of the atmosphere.

He told Hollander that winter had not deserted us. The warming trend, he said, is part of a vast cycle. "In another hundred years," Hollander wrote, "it is quite possible that the trend will be in the other direction. When the infants of today become graybeards they may sit before some crackling fire and remember ' the nice, comfortable, open winters we used to have.'"

Today's scientists acknowledge the existence of such "vast" natural cycles in the planet's climate. But the preponderance of the evidence suggests that the warming Kincer noted in 1937 and since cannot be explained by natural cycles alone. Human activity is needed to account for the rest, especially the release of vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the combustion of huge volumes of fossil fuels (the remains of plants and trees that had absorbed that carbon from the air over hundreds of millions of years).

By the way, those "infants" Kincer spoke of? They're turning 70 years old this year. And they're still talking about the colder, snowier winters of their youth.

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