Guardian Climate Change Archive (1): 1907-1999

This is the first instalment of a list of all the Guardian’s Climate Change articles (13,248 so far) which I’ve been compiling and annotating. The aim is to provide a searchable source of everything on the subject published by possibly the world’s most committed and influential media outlet committed to the cause of countering global warming. I’ve simply reproduced the title, date, and summary of all articles listed under “Climate Change” on their environment pages, and added URLs and author’s name, plus important proper names in square brackets to aid searching. The list currently starts at

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-change?page=884

but the numbering changes over time. Coverage starts with an earthquake in Jamaica and ends with floods in Somerset. (The Guardian continued to treat earthquakes as symptoms of climate change until at least 2003). Things really get going in 1992 with nine articles by John Vidal and Paul Brown covering the Rio summit.

Then there’s almost nothing until October 1998, when suddenly there are grim warnings from the CRU, University College London, and Middlesex University about floods, storm surges and millions dying. Nothing about Kyoto, the hockeystick, or the first two IPCC reports. Can this be true? Or are the Guardian’s researchers too incompetent to find the material in their own archives? A search would no doubt answer this question, but I’m treating their climate change site as a reliable indication of the history of climate catastrophism in the British media, until it’s proved otherwise. This (in reverse order) is how right thinking (i.e. left-thinking) people came to know and love catastrophic global warming over the past twenty years. ____________________________________________________

Battle to shore up old flood barrier 31 Dec 1999: Urgent work is being carried out to prevent millions of gallons of floodwater breaching a centuries-old flood defence barrier on the Somerset levels near Bridgwater.

Woodland havoc 31 Dec 1999: More than 100m trees were felled by the storms that ripped through France this week, environmentalists said yesterday. It was an environmental catastrophe that could take take more than a century to repair.

Battered France calls out troops 30 Dec 1999: The defence ministry mobilised 6,000 troops, the electricity board brought workers out of retirement and the government released £10m of emergency aid as France struggled yesterday to return to normal after three days of storms described as the most violent this century.

Austrian avalanche survivors flown out to safety 30 Dec 1999: Some 40 avalanche survivors were evacuated yesterday from a rough timber hostel, 2,000 metres (6,500ft) up in the Austrian Alps, yards from the spot where nine German tourists were buried by snow on Tuesday.

Insurers expect record claims 30 Dec 1999: Wind storms Lothar and Martin, which tore through Europe this week, could be the most costly disaster on record for the region’s insurers.

Nine die in Austrian avalanche 29 Dec 1999: A rescue helicopter today reached a site high in the western Austrian Alps where nine German tourists were killed and nearly 40 other people were stranded by an avalanche triggered by a massive snow storm.

A piece of Versailles’ history dies with trees 29 Dec 1999: Marie Antoinette’s Virginia tulip tree has toppled down a hill, its exposed roots soggy in the rain. A Corsican pine planted under Napoleon’s orders lies splintered in a field.

Avalanches add to woes as new gales lash Europe 29 Dec 1999: After another night of 100mph gales, the death toll from two days of storms in France reached at least 62 yesterday. Most of the 20 deaths reported during the day were in the south-west, where large areas were without electricity, telephones and public transport.

London had white Christmas – official 26 Dec 1999: London officially enjoyed a white Christmas yesterday, thanks to a few snowflakes that fell on the roof of the London Weather Centre.

Toll rises as storms rage over Christmas 26 Dec 1999: Gales, heavy rain and storms left five people dead or missing and a trail of mayhem across Britain over the Christmas holiday, as wild weather buffeted much of the country.

Now it’s rain 21 Dec 1999: Britain’s icy chill receded today, but the milder weather brought with it rains to complete a cold and wet prelude to Christmas.

Warm North Sea kills off cod 18 Dec 1999: It is getting too hot for cod in the North Sea. Rising sea temperatures round British coasts are threatening the survival of cod and whiting, two staples of the British fishing industry.

Weather can only get warmer 16 Dec 1999: With 15 days to go, 1999 could be about to break British temperature records. Scientists at the Met Office and East Anglia university said yesterday it could be the warmest year for Britain since records began in central England in 1659 – unless the cold snap continues.

Winter chills: Cold spell set to stay for a while 15 Dec 1999: Parts of Britain were yesterday plunged into chaos as winds from Greenland and Iceland heralded the worst conditions so far this winter.

The dilemma that confronts the world http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1999/sep/16/transportintheuk.population 16 Sep 1999: Paul Brown: [UNEP] In a devastating assessment on the future for the human race in the early part of the next century Klaus Töpfer, the executive director of the UN environment programme, said yesterday that the main threats to human survival were posed by water shortages, global warming, and a new danger – worldwide nitrogen pollution.

Burning question 21 Aug 1999: Aircraft emissions mean that in terms of climate change there is no such thing as a low-cost flight, says Peter Carty.

Overcrowded world faces battle for scarce resources 14 Aug 1999: At 1.24 am, New York time on October 12 the UN secretary general will declare there are 6bn people alive. This should be taken with a pinch of salt because no one knows the real population, but the political point about massive population expansion will be well made.

Killer tornado strikes Utah 12 Aug 1999: The western state of Utah is not accustomed to tornadoes, so when a killer wind struck Salt Lake City yesterday, killing one person and injuring 73 others, it came as a double shock.

Floods engulf east Asia 5 Aug 1999: The capital of the Philippines has been hit by the heaviest rainfall in 25 years as exceptional monsoons continue to cause death and destruction in east Asia.

Storms in US Midwest leave at least 45 dead 4 May 1999: Devastating tornadoes too numerous to count roared across Oklahoma and Kansas, killing at least 45 people and bringing destruction to cities and small towns alike.

Climate threatens China’s water 9 Apr 1999: Entire lakes are drying up and river water levels plummeting in China, presaging a drought which could threaten the country’s ability to feed its 1.2 billion people.

Warm weather today, but expect jams tomorrow 1 Apr 1999: Britain is set to enjoy an unseasonably warm start to the Easter bank holiday today with temperatures promising to soar to one of the hottest ever April Fool’s days. Forecasters predict temperatures in the South could reach 22C or more breaking the all-time April 1 high of 22.6C recorded at Wryde, Cambridgeshire, in 1907.

Avalanche boy, 4, allowed home 2 Mar 1999: A FOUR-YEAR-OLD Austrian boy who survived being buried for almost two hours under an avalanche has been released in perfect health, a doctor said yesterday. Alois Schranz said the boy was released from Zams Hospital on Sunday night.

Undeterred Britons head for slopes of death 28 Feb 1999: Thousands of Britons flew into the Alpine ski resorts yesterday, undeterred by last week’s avalanches which claimed 38 lives.

Wave after wave 26 Feb 1999: El Nino, Hurricane Georges, floods – all weather events which keep coming back into the news because of the havoc they they cause. The pattern of larger, more frequent, and more damaging extreme weather events is exactly what the scientists studying global warming predicted.

100-year forecast grim http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1999/feb/26/weather.climatechange 26 Feb 1999: Paul Brown: [Hadley Centre, CRU, Mike Hulme] The weather forecast for the next century is grim. Winters will have heavy rain leading to frequent flooding, gales will cause damage to trees and buildings, storm surges and high tides will threaten the coast.

Central America counts cost as floods recede 26 Feb 1999: As flood waters begin to recede, the people of Central America are counting the cost of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch, which may have killed between 7,000 and 10,000 people and left more than 3 million homeless – some 10 per cent of the region’s population.

Britons still heading for the slopes – with high hopes of fine weather 26 Feb 1999: The enthusiasm of British skiers does not appear to have been dented by the series of avalanches in the Alps that have left numerous people dead and thousands more stranded.

Boy, 4, found buried alive in snow 26 Feb 1999: A four-year-old boy was pulled from the brink of death by rescuers after the latest avalanche to crash down on the ski resorts of the Austrian Tyrol, a doctor revealed yesterday.

Best weather sites 25 Feb 1999: General weather information

Satellite images online 25 Feb 1999: Nottingham University satellite pictures Latest Meteosat satellite image for Europe.

The best climate change sites 25 Feb 1999: World Meteorological Organisation Latest information on El Nino.

What’s the weather like at ski resorts? 25 Feb 1999: Chamonix weather report. Resort camera. Mountain views.

Watch the weather around Britain 25 Feb 1999: London

Live camera from Capital Radio looks down on Leicester Square.

British skiers accused as avalanche toll mounts 23 Feb 1999: Three British businessmen were yesterday accused of endangering lives by recklessly skiing off-piste as Europe faced its second major avalanche tragedy in two weeks.

Ski death toll rises to 21 14 Feb 1999: Another cross-country skier met his death in the French Alps yesterday after being buried in an avalanche, bringing the toll for a week of snow slides to 18 dead. The 50-year-old man lived in the Hautes-Alpes region.

One second of fear, then it was all over 11 Feb 1999: The thick pall of snow which has swept across a swath of central and southern Europe from Romania to the Belgian coast has brought record low temperatures, and left a trail of death in its wake.

Search triggered in Alps as avalanches kill seven 10 Feb 1999: Four people died and up to four were feared missing after powerful avalanches hit two groups of chalets north of the ski resort of Chamonix in the French Alps yesterday, reducing buildings to rubble and triggering a search for survivors.

Off-piste alert as Briton dies in avalanche 4 Feb 1999: Skiers in the Swiss Alps were yesterday urged to resist the temptation of off-piste skiing after safety officials gave warning of an exceptionally high avalanche risk around resorts popular with British holidaymakers.

Heavy snow brings chaos 13 Jan 1999: Britain was yesterday gripped by winter as millions suffered the heaviest snowfall of the season.

Rain brings flood chaos to Cumbria as London basks 7 Jan 1999: Severe flooding plunged northern England into further chaos yesterday as London enjoyed its warmest recorded January day.

Unnatural disasters http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1998/nov/11/weather.climatechange 11 Nov 1998: Peter Walker [Red Cross] The devastation following Hurricane Mitch in Honduras and the economic collapse of Russia, point to the shape of disasters to come. Major global trends, in climate, disease patterns, trade and financial systems will re-map the relationship between disaster and normality for many of the world’s poorest nations. As disasters become major determinants of development, not just transient blips on the growth curve, states must completely rethink how they guide their economies and societies to resist these future shocks. Humanitarian agencies and the international system that supports them will have to change radically if they are to measure up to their stated task of alleviating the suffering of the most vulnerable.

Hurricane Mitch: Questions and answers 7 Nov 1998: How bad is the disaster?

Central America counts cost as floods recede 4 Nov 1998: As flood waters begin to recede, the people of Central America are counting the cost of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch, which may have killed between 7,000 and 10,000 people and left more than 3 million homeless – some 10 per cent of the region’s population.

Hundreds perish in Nicaraguan mudslide 2 Nov 1998: Emergency workers in Nicaragua recovered hundreds of bodies yesterday from communities buried when a lake in a volcano crater overflowed and caused part of the mountain to crumble, sending tons of mud and rock down on villages below.

Worst floods for 20 years leave £100m bill 26 Oct 1998: Insurance companies are bracing themselves for £100 million claims after the severe weekend weather which left at least 12 people dead, and a trail of damage across Wales and the west of England.

Millions ‘will die’ in global warming [Paul Brown: Martin Parry, Robert Nicholls]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/1998/oct/22/weather.climatechange

22 Oct 1998: Millions of people will become environmental refugees and starve because politicians are failing to prepare for inevitable climate change resulting from man’s activities, five of the Government’s senior advisers on global warming say today.

100-year forecast grim http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/1999/feb/26/weather.climatechange 17 Oct 1998: Paul Brown: [Hadley Centre, CRU, Mike Hulme] The weather forecast for the next century is grim. Winters will have heavy rain leading to frequent flooding, gales will cause damage to trees and buildings, storm surges and high tides will threaten the coast. [This article in fact appeared in February 1999. See above]

Hurricane wreaks havoc on battered Gulf states 29 Sep 1998: Hurricane Georges yesterday unleashed ferocious winds, torrential rain and flooding on the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico as thousands of people were evacuated.

China flood devil kills thousands 16 Aug 1998: The “flood devil”, as one local newspaper called it, is back. Death and destruction in the Yangtse valley are an annual tragedy but this summer they are on a massive scale.

Quake toll nears 2,000 as rescuers dig through rubble 18 Jan 1995: January 17 1995: On this day the Japanese city of Kobe was hit by an earthquake. The final death toll would reach almost six and a half thousand. This is how the Guardian reported the events.

Earth Summit: Good intentions doomed by gulf between rich and poor http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1992/jun/15/worldsummit2002 15 Jun 1992: John Vidal: Vested economic interests foiled moves to balance needs of the environment and those of developing nations – Minister hails summit as triumph

Earth Summit: Eleventh-hour cash deal is near http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1992/jun/11/worldsummit2002 11 Jun 1992: Paul Brown: Arrival of world leaders concentrates minds as 16-hour talks reduce differences on Agenda 21

Earth Summit : Forty-chapter agenda that divides North and South http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1992/jun/09/worldsummit2002 9 Jun 1992: John Vidal assesses the positions on the summit ‘s real battleground

Earth Summit : First names put to ‘weakened’ climate pledge http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1992/jun/05/worldsummit2002 5 Jun 1992: Paul Brown in Rio on a ‘pragmatic’ agreement which many feel will fail to avert catastrophic change

Earth Summit : Rio opens with plea for proof of global brotherhood http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1992/jun/04/worldsummit20021 Paul Bown & Jan Rocha 4 Jun 1992: The Earth Summit of 180 nations opened in Rio yesterday with messages of hope from world leaders, tempered by a warning that new barriers were being erected to insulate the more affluent and privileged from the poor.

Earth Summit : Money the root of all change http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1992/jun/04/worldsummit2002 4 Jun 1992: John Vidal in Rio de Janeiro examines the divisions between the South, which holds the physical resources, and the North – which holds the wealth

Earth Summit : Long and troubled road to Rio http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1992/jun/03/worldsummit2002 3 Jun 1992: Paul Brown traces how a meeting in Sweden 20 years ago gave birth to the world’s biggest conference [Gro Harlem Brundtland]

All the difference in the world 10 Apr 1992: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1992/apr/10/worldsummit2002 Rio ’92: Preparations for the world’s largest summit are over but what are the prospects for agreement on environment and development? John Vidal and Pratap Chaterjee see what’s still on the Rio agenda

Earth Summit chief says $625bn would save world http://www.theguardian.com/environment/1992/feb/14/worldsummit2002 14 Feb 1992: John Vidal: The price of correcting the world’s environmental problems is about $625 billion ( £350 billion) a year, Maurice Strong, secretary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development ( Earth Summit ), said yesterday in London. Of this, $125 billion needs to be transferred from rich to poor countries, or an increase of $70 billion a year in aid programmes.

Giant oil spill imperils Alaska 25 Mar 1989: March 24 1989: On this day an oil tanker ran aground in Alaska causing the worst oil spill in US history. This is how the Guardian reported the news.

Hope running out for El Asnam earthquake victims 13 Oct 1980: Hopes of saving more victims of the El Asnam earthquake were fading last night. Only 14 people were brought out alive yesterday when Algerian Government officials said they expected the final toll to go beyond 20,000 dead. [The final death toll was later reported as under 10,000.]

Making the best of the ‘bare necessities’ 5 Feb 1953: Resourcefulness at a Norfolk rest centre.

Flood warnings 5 Feb 1953: If the foresight which prepares for the very worst is not to be regarded as one of the essential qualities of government, this will explain, as the Home Secretary suggested yesterday, why no Government has never thought it necessary to organise a system of public warning against floods.

Storms and flood disasters 2 Feb 1953: · Many stricken areas· Over 100 deaths along the S and SE coasts · Thousands evacuated.

Our London correspondent 5 Dec 1952: According to one encyclopaedia fog may be defined as “a cloud that touches the ground reducing the visibility to less than 1,100 yards”. We have had a “cloud touching the ground” in London for the last two days which has frequently reduced the visibility to eleven inches or less and which shows no signs of lifting. The traffic standstill is almost absolute in Central London, bus services have been cancelled wholesale, and travellers must depend on the underground, which is running almost normally but much overcrowded. All over London there are abandoned cars whose drivers have given up the struggle, and by six o’clock tonight almost all traffic had ceased, leaving the streets to walkers playing a dangerous form of blind man’s buff with each other. At Hyde Park Corner last night the chaos was complete, and it was the same at the Elephant and Castle today when the police found it impossible, for a time, to disentangle the traffic locked in the dark, beyond aid from traffic lights, flares, or constables with torches.

Traffic delayed by fog 5 Dec 1952: Fog, which held up traffic over many parts of Britain yesterday, causing trains to be cancelled and dislocating air services, is expected to persist near large towns today. Last night dense local fog in the London area reduced visibility in places to only ten yards; at Richmond Bridge it was almost nil.

Earthquake 16 Jan 1907: January 14 1907: On this day tens of thousands lost their lives after an earthquake destroyed the Jamaican capital of Kingston. This is how the Guardian reported the events.

 

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4 Responses to Guardian Climate Change Archive (1): 1907-1999

  1. Q says:

    curious gap between 1953 and 1980, so global cooling was never reported?

  2. I’ve been trying to search the Guardian to find out how they were reporting global warming in the nineties, without success.
    Searching “Kyoto 1997” with their Google search facility produces 637 results, but a fault in their system means you can only see the most recent 100, which only takes you back to 2011.
    I then tried searching “Kyoto” at
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/list/allenvironmentkeywords
    but that only goes back to 2007. So I tried searching John Vidal’s articles.His 1992 articles from Rio are listed, though he only joined the Guardian staff in 1995. He wrote one article in 96, two in 97 (all three about burgers) and none in 98. In March 1999 he wrote an article headed baldly “The Environment” for the Guardian’s “Life and Style” section http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/1999/mar/27/weekend.johnvidal in which global warming gets a mention, along with Rachel Carson, the ozone hole and GM crops. He really gets going in 1999 with about 80 articles, mainly about GM crops, fair trade the WTO talks in Seattle.
    In the first of his “Climate Wars” articles http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/feb/09/climate-change-data-request-war Fred Pearce says:
    “In 1998, I revealed in the Guardian leaked documents showing that the powerful American Petroleum Institute (API) was planning to recruit a team of “independent scientists” to do battle against climatologists on global warming. The aim was to bolster a campaign to prevent the US government ratifying the Kyoto protocol”.
    But searching his articles reveals nothing before 2000
    Similarly, the list of Monbiot’s articles at the Guardian only goes back to Jan 1999 and therefore doesn’t contain the earliest Guardian climate change articles on his website, for example this one from 1995 http://www.monbiot.com/1995/12/14/its-happening/ Bizarrely, The Guardian’s list also misses out three of his articles from1999: http://www.monbiot.com/1999/05/01/no-free-lunch/ (“Duty Free is a subsidy for global warming. It must be stopped”)
    http://www.monbiot.com/1999/07/29/meltdown/ (“Global warming means that flying across the Atlantic is now as unacceptable as child abuse”) and http://www.monbiot.com/1999/10/21/the-corporations-sod-you-culture/
    However, I’m not going to try and correct their list. What the Guardian chooses to remember is as interesting as what they actually said at the time.

  3. alexjc38 says:

    It’s possible to find a few Guardian articles from within the memory hole, by indirect means, e.g. Google searches filtered by date – here’s one article by Sharon Beder, Paul Brown and John Vidal on Kyoto, for instance. It appears to have been published in the Guardian in 1997 but I haven’t been able to find it on the actual Guardian website:
    http://www.uow.edu.au/~sharonb/Guardian.html

    (Blimey, that article by Monbiot about murderous “duty free vampires” is enough to drive one to the demon drink. Happy New Year, George! Cheers…)

  4. What the Guardian chooses to remember is as interesting as what they actually said at the time.

    Perhaps this makes it easier for their stable of writers to “recycle” without appearing to do so? Either that or the archive-trimmers may have decided that, in this day and age, their earlier efforts were so far off the wall as to be, well, even more embarrassing than their current effluence!

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