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Today it's global warming; in the '70s it was the coming ice age


Many Seattleites pride themselves on a fanatical environmentalism that frankly defies reason.  On Earth Day, we commonly hear dark predictions about the looming horrors of global warming (a typical example, “What is at stake [is] our ability to live on planet Earth,” Al Gore).

Yet not so long ago the news media issued dire warnings about global cooling and a coming Ice Age.  Consider these headlines:

  • “The Earth’s Cooling Climate,” Science News, November 15, 1969.
  • “Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age,” Washington Post, January 11, 1970.
  • “Science:  Another Ice Age?”  Time Magazine, June 24, 1974.
  • “The Ice Age Cometh!”  Science News, March 1, 1975.
  • “The Cooling World,” Newsweek, April 28, 1975.
  • “Scientists Ask Why World Climate is Changing; Major Cooling May Be Ahead,” New York Times, May 21, 1975.
  • “In the Grip of a New Ice Age?” International Wildlife July-August, 1975.
  • “A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable,” New York Times, September 14, 1975.
  • “Variations in the Earth’s Orbit, Pacemaker of the Ice Ages,” Science magazine, December 10, 1976.

Reporters told the public about global cooling in the same confident tone used in today’s coverage about global warming, creating the strong impression that no reasonable person could disagree.  Here are some examples:

  • “The evidence in support of these predictions [global cooling] has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.” The Cooling World
  • “A study release last month by two NOAA scientists that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.” The Cooling World
  • “Telltale signs are everywhere...the thickness of the pack ice...the southward migration of warmth-loving creatures like the armadillo...”  Another Ice Age?
  • “Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7 degrees.” Another Ice Age?
  • “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind,” The Ice Age Cometh!

Critics will often say there was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the world was cooling, but that’s not how the media reported it to the public.  Similarly, today some scientists want to debate global warming and its possible causes, but so often the media presents global warming as a settled issue, not to be questioned.  Since the reporting today about world climate is the opposite of what it was 30 years ago, maybe the skepticism about the worst predictions surrounding global warming is quite reasonable after all.

For more Earth Day fun, check out my post from Earth Day 2008"The end is near, and this time we mean it."


  • John 5 years ago

    True, but Peak Oil had already been predicted then. We peaked at 89 million barrels a day in 2008. I can't see that production rate being ever being achieved again.

  • Jerry 5 years ago

    You might want to Google for

    where you will find a review of the scientific (as opposed to the pop culture) literature regarding the myth of global cooling.

    I look forward to your correction,

  • Jack 5 years ago

    i'm certain that 30 years ago, the climate data and models were woefully incomplete. however, today there is a much clearer picture through methodologies that are scientifically sound that have conclusively determined the GHG levels in earth's atmosphere are altering the climate negatively. you can go on and make fun of the past, but this foolish posting is only to perpetuate your need to continue a lifestyle that is wasteful, polluting,and clearly causing an impact on all life well into the future. you can deny global warming all you want, but you are wrong. Learn more and grow a little morally before calling the skepticism reasonable.

  • Tom 5 years ago

    Regarding your last paragraph, scientists continue to debate all sorts of issues and it really doesn't matter much how the media reports it or what the public thinks about it. This time they are reporting controversies where they don't exist. Having debated global warming for decades and accumulated a lot more data, a consensus is forming, and the fact the media continue to portray it as a controversy to get better ratings has no impact on the truth of the matter. The overall premise of your article appears to be that science was wrong once therefore it must be wrong this time, which is ludicrous. Science was wrong about "cold fusion" also, but corrected the error. The scientific method will eventually correct mistakes by its very nature, but a strong consensus on global warming exists and the point has always been that we can't afford this time to wait for 100% certainty before acting, the stakes are just too high.

  • AntonioSosa 5 years ago

    More and more scientists and thinking people all over the world are realizing that man-made global warming is a hoax that threatens our future and the future of our children. More than 700 international scientists dissent over man-made global warming claims. They are now more than 13 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

    Additionally, 32,000 American scientists have signed onto a petition that states, "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate…"

    "Progressive" (communist) politicians like Obama seem determined to force us to swallow the man-made global warming scam. We need to defend ourselves from the United Nations and these politicians, who threaten our future and the future of our children. Based on a lie, they have already wasted billions and plan to increase taxes and increase the cost of energy, which will limit development, destroy our economy and enslave us.

    If not stopped, the global warming scam will enrich the scammers (Gore and Obama’s Wall Street friends), increase the power of the United Nations and communists like Obama, and multiply poverty and servitude for the rest of us.

  • Todd 5 years ago

    Can't you at least rry to come up with some new propaganda. The perecentage of scientists worried about global cooling in the 70's was about the same percentage who argued tha cigarette smoking wasn't harmfull. There have been hundreds of articles disproving the premise of your article. Are you mentally retarded to keep saying the same things over and over again even after you have been shown to be wrong?

  • Eric 5 years ago

    LOL! You uneducated conservative nit-wits need to start reading actual scientific journals, rather than the crap you fill your "minds" with.
    Here is a schooling for you cons; the "cooling" you laughably bring up, was caused by particulate matter in the atmosphere (fluorocarbons, aerosols, freon, etc...) reflecting sunlight back into space. Thusly cooling. It was a real phenomenon that government action limited the effects of.

    Lucky for America and the world that your ilk are the lunatic fringe minority. The vast majority of the world knows climate change to be real and caused by man. Your opinions don't matter because conservative opinions are rarely if ever based in factual evidence. Usually half truths and out right lies.

  • oface5446 5 years ago

    John Barnes -

    I can tell by your youthful and pudgy face that you weren't reading Newsweek in the '70s. Why don't you stop regurgitating Rush's pro-business lies?

    Here's the Newsweek article from the '70s being retracted by the editor:


    Type in 'Global cooling' in wikipedia if you want to learn about your myth.

    Type in 'Global cooling' in newsweek.c0m and see other articles about it.

    (You are a liar and a deceiver and deserve to burn, by the way.)

  • Hawk Of May 5 years ago

    A site that is free from the FUD presented here is

    A couple of book recommendations also:
    Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas

    And an article from a peer reviewed journal for AntonioSosa to read.
    Reading some instead of spouting conservative talking points might do you some good.

    Preface all links with the normal http prefix.

  • glenncz 5 years ago

    great research buddy! If what you are saying is true, then if the climate cools, we can pretty much expect the scientists to Tax us so they produce enormous fires filling the air with CO2.

  • Timothy 5 years ago

    This is basically an article about media coverage, not the science of global warming or cooling, and it is correct; the media did briefly hype global cooling in the 70's. It is hyping global warming now and largely ignoring contradictory information. Two examples: First, nearly every major outlet reports extensively every break in an ice shelf on the Antarctic peninsula, but fails to note that total Antarctic sea ice area is more than one million square kilometers above the thirty year average. Second, in 2008 arctic ice recovered hundreds of thousands of square kilometers over its thirty year low the year before; the story could have been presented "arctic ice rebounds," but was instead presented as "second lowest ice on record." There are countless other examples out there.
    Many people who have examined the science do not agree with the conclusions of the IPCC. If the sun continues in its present quiescent state and the planet does not cool, perhaps some theories will be flushed out. If it does cool, perhaps some different theories will fall into disrepute.

  • Jon G Sisler 5 years ago

    I have been hearing we are 'running out of oil' since the 60's, I have been hearing we are 'over populated' since the 60's, I have been hearing we will run out of food since the 60's. The 'experts' usually have an agenda or are simply uninformed.

  • WestHoustonGeo 5 years ago

    I remember the "new ice age" era of the 70's. Young punks who weren't around try to tell me it didn't happen.

    I also remember those predictions of doom before 2000. Hey, IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Do you understand?

    And the carp they try to feed us now is just as bogus.

    Peak Oil will happen when the NeoStalinist outlaw oil...wait, that's happening now!

    Trouble is, there is nothing out there that can replace hydrocarbons. This is a political juggernaught that will bottom out the economy.

    There is a way out:


    Sec. 2. INHERENT POLITICAL POWER; REPUBLICAN FORM OF GOVERNMENT. All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.
    Once approved by Texas voters, the proposed Annexation Ordinance and State Constitution were submitted to the United States Congress. The United States House and Senate, in turn, accepted the Texas state constitution in a Joint Resolution to Admit Texas as a State which was signed by the president (James Polk) on December 29, 1845 .

    My friends, it could not be more legal for us to become the Republic of Texas once more. If you think that's good then tell me!

  • Kevin 5 years ago

    As science teacher I find some of the responses to this article scary. Some of the responses attacking this article are textbook propaganda responses, similiar in many ways to what you would expect to see if you had criticised the Nazi regime in 1930's Germany. The Newsweek articles cited here were based on studies published in scientific journals, in spite of what one of the negative responses claims. Someone here says to "search Wikipedia" on "Global Cooling" as support for their claim that the cooling scare of the 70's is misrepresented here, since they could very easily have WRITEN the article on global cooling themselves I can't find that too reassuring...
    I was alive in the 70's and remember the gloable cooling scare. I also read scientific journals regualrly and have both read the entire IPCC report, not just the summary that was actually released before the full scientific report was even writen (like that's how science works?). And I ssay the claims of AGW supporters are either delusional, a money making scam (Al Gore has made 100's of millions on it), or a deliberate effort to sabotage industrialized economies to benefit third world economies.

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