Peter Gwynne, began his piece by declaring portentously:
"There are ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production - with serious political implications for just about every nation on earth."
And this wasn't just a minority opinion, he went on to stress:
"Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in their view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic."
But now Gwynne has decided that this certainty was misplaced:
"While the hypotheses described in that original story seemed right at the time, climate scientists now know that they were seriously incomplete. Our climate is warming -- not cooling, as the original story suggested,"
Gwynne is apparently sick and tired of having the article rubbed in his face by "websites and individuals that dispute, disparage and deny the science that shows that humans are causing the Earth to warm." Especially painful for him - it seems - was the occasion when his piece was triumphantly brandished by comedian (and notorious skeptic) Dennis Miller on the Tonight Show in 2006.
Luckily, Gwynne is in no danger of being made to look a fool twice. He has now chosen to place his faith in the expertise of perhaps the most widely respected, uncontroversial figures in the entire field of climate science - a man he quotes approvingly throughout his recantation.
"There's no serious dispute any more about whether the globe is warming, whether humans are responsible, and whether we will see large and dangerous changes in the future – in the words of the National Academy of Sciences – which we didn't know in the 1970s," said Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. He added that nearly every U.S. scientific society has assessed the evidence and come to the same conclusion.
Gwynne concludes by sounding a warning note on the dangers of science writers failing to ask the right questions and reporting over-enthusiastically on the latest scare story.
"If I had applied those lessons back in 1975, I might not now be in the embarrassing position of being a cat's paw for denial of climate change," he says ruefully.
Indeed. But at least Gwynne has learned his lesson. Now that he believes in global warming - as all the experts do - no one is ever going to take him again for a gullible idiot who has failed to perform his due diligence on one of the most important scientific issues of the day.