This is a guest post by David Kirtley. David originally posted this as a Google Doc, and I’m reproducing his work here with his permission. Just the other day I was speaking to a climate change skeptic who made mention of an old Time or Newsweek (he was not sure) article that talked about fears of a coming ice age. There were in fact a number of articles back in the 1970s that discussed the whole Ice Age problem, and I’m not sure what my friend was referring to. But here, David Kirtley places a recent meme that seems to be an attempt to diffuse concern about global warming because we used to be worried about global cooling. The meme, however, is not what it seems to be. And, David places the argument that Ice Age Fears were important and somehow obviate the science in context.

The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers

- by David Kirtley

A few days ago a facebook friend of mine posted the following image:

From the 1977 cover we can see that apparently a new ice age was supposed to arrive. Only 30 years later, according to the 2006 cover, global warming is supposed to be the problem. But the cover on the left isn’t from 1977. It actually is this Time cover from April 9, 2007:


As you can see, the cover title has nothing to do with an imminent ice age, it’s about global warming, as we might expect from a 2007 Time magazine.

The faked image illustrates one of the fake-skeptics’ favorite myths: The 1970s Ice Age Scare. It goes something like this:

  • In the 1970s the scientists were all predicting global cooling and a future ice age.
  • The media served as the scientists’ lapdog parroting the alarming news.
  • The ice age never came—the scientists were dead wrong.
  • Now those same scientists are predicting global warming (or is it “climate change” now?)

The entire purpose of this myth is to suggest that scientists can’t be trusted, that they will say/claim/predict whatever to get their names in the newspapers, and that the media falls for it all the time. They were wrong about ice ages in the 1970s, they are wrong now about global warming.

But why fake the 1977 cover? Since, according to the fake-skeptics, there was so much news coverage of the imminent ice age why not just use a real 1970s cover?

I searched around on Time’s website and looked through all of the covers from the 1970s. I was shocked (shocked!) to find not a single cover with the promise of an in-depth, special report on the Coming Ice Age. What about this cover from December 1973 with Archie Bunker shivering in his chair entitled “The Big Freeze”? Nope, that’s about the Energy Crisis. Maybe this cover from January 1977, again entitled “The Big Freeze”? Nope, that’s about the weather. How about this one from December 1979, “The Cooling of America”? Again with the Energy Crisis.

Now, there really were news articles in the 1970s about scientists predicting a coming ice age. Time had a piece called “Another Ice Age?” in 1974. Time’s competition, Newsweek, joined in with “The Cooling World” in 1975. People have collected lists and lists of “Coming Ice Age” stories from newspapers, magazines, books, tv shows, etc. throughout the 1970s.

But if it was such a big news story why did it never make the cover of America’s flagship news magazine like the faked image implies? Perhaps there is more to the story.

In the 1970s there were a few developments in climate science:

  • Scientists were finding answers to the puzzle of what caused ice ages in the past: variations in earth’s orbit.
  • Scientists were gathering data from around the world to come up with global average temperatures, and they found that temperatures had been cooling since about the 1940s.
  • Scientists were realizing that some of this cooling was due to increasing air pollution (soot and aerosols, tiny particles suspended in the air) which was decreasing the amount of solar energy entering the atmosphere.
  • Scientists were also quantifying the “greenhouse effect” of another part of our increasing pollution: carbon dioxide (CO2), which should cause the climate to warm.

The realization that very long cycles in earth’s orbit could cause the waxing and waning of ice ages, coupled with the fact that our soot and aerosols were already causing cooling, led some scientists to conclude that we may be headed for another ice age. Exactly when was still a little unclear. However, the warming effects of CO2 had been known for over a century, and new research in the 1970s was showing that CO2 warming would more than compensate for the cooling caused by aerosols, resulting in net warming.

This, in a very brief nutshell, was the state of climate science in the 1970s. And so the media of the time published many stories about a coming ice age, which made for timely reading during some very cold winters. But many news stories also mentioned that other important detail about CO2: that our climate might soon change due to global warming. In 1976 Time published “The World’s Climate: Unpredictable” which is a very good summary of the then current scientific thinking: some scientists emphasized aerosols and cooling, some scientists emphasized CO2 and warming. There was no consensus either way. Many other 1970s articles which mention a Coming Ice Age also mention the possibility of increased warming due to CO2. For instance, here, here and here.

Fake-skeptics read these stories and only focus on the Coming Ice Age angle, and they enlarge the importance of those scientists who focused on that angle. They totally ignore the rest of the picture of 1970s climate science: that increasing CO2 would cause global warming.

The purpose of the image of the two Time magazine covers, and of the Coming Ice Age Myth, is not to show the real history of climate science, but to obscure that history and to cause confusion. It seems to be working. Because today, when there really is a consensus about climate science and 97% of climatologists agree that adding CO2 to the atmosphere is leading to climate change, only 45% of the public know about that consensus. The other 55% must think we’re still in the 1970s when scientists were still debating the issue. Seems newsworthy to me, maybe Time will run another cover story on it.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 10.50.34 AM

To learn more see:


  1. […] The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley […]

  2. […] […]

  3. #3 David Kirtley
    St Louis, Mo
    June 4, 2013

    Thanks, Greg!

  4. #4 Alan(UK)
    June 4, 2013

    It is just the same with mobile phones and cancer. In this country, one textbook (“Approved” by the examining board) uses this as an example of “Controversy in Science”. It gives the case for phones causing cancer completely unjustified prominence.

    Now this is a recent phenomenon. Research into the origins of the “scare” is easy. First look for references to the original paper published in a reputable, peer-reviewed, journal that started it (even Wakefield had that). A search of the Internet shows nothing. Maybe there was some anecdotal evidence, maybe the trends in cancer cases showed something. Again nothing. What you find is an endless circle of references citing newspaper reports or just people citing each other.

    Researching something that did not happen in the 1970’s is much more difficult. Too recent to be history and too old to be current affairs. Sufficently long ago not to be able to remember not hearing about it.

  5. #5 CherryBombSim
    June 4, 2013

    I had some insight into scientific consensus back then. That was back when I thought I was going to be a planetary scientist, and was studying a fair amount of atmospheric physics and chemistry at Caltech.

    As I remember it (it’s been a while),there was a lot of uncertainty about what clouds and particulates would do, because clouds are hard to model, and particulants are hard to measure globally. We did have nice, smooth CO2 from Mauna Loa, and had a pretty good idea where that was headed. We were also well aware that we were in the middle of an interglacial, and that all else being equal, we were due for another glaciation soon. (Well, “soon” in a geological sense.) putting all of this together, I would say that most people I knew back then thought the atmosphere would most likely heat up in the near term. If I had had to make a guess, it would not have been too far off from what has been observed since. (Meaning like within a factor of two or something.)

  6. #6 Daughter Number Three
    June 4, 2013

    What a clueless piece of fake design. Time magazine looked nothing like this in the 1970s and anyone with a few years behind them should know it.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    June 4, 2013

    Imbrie and Imbrie have a nice graph at the end of their book expressing I liar thoughts, CBS

  8. #8 Anonymous
    June 4, 2013

    […] just have NO scruples! Check out this Denialist meme that's going around…. Below from this link: The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley – Greg Laden's B… ************** The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley A few days […]

  9. #9 Jim Prall
    June 4, 2013

    Great post! Another way to fact check this is to compare Google Scholar searches on “global cooling” vs. “global warming” each in quotes to match the exact phrase, for specified date ranges. Every decade there are lots more hits for warming than for cooling.
    BTW can you fix the spelling of Spencer Weart? You’re missing the ‘a’.

  10. […] The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley. […]

  11. #11 Simon Nasht
    June 4, 2013

    And the fool who thought this was a convincing fraud also left in the top left hand corner an actually headline from a `1977 story on ‘Cancer: the changing science”. Seems the idiot will accept that idiot will accept that science changes as more information comes to hand, but not when it offends his pre-determined ideology.

  12. #12 James
    June 5, 2013

    Time magazine 1974-

    Another Ice Age?
    Monday, June 24, 1974

    In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims. During 1972 record rains in parts of the U.S., Pakistan and Japan caused some of the worst flooding in centuries. In Canada’s wheat belt, a particularly chilly and rainy spring has delayed planting and may well bring a disappointingly small harvest. Rainy Britain, on the other hand, has suffered from uncharacteristic dry spells the past few springs. A series of unusually cold winters has gripped the American Far West, while New England and northern Europe have recently experienced the mildest winters within anyone’s recollection….

    The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age…

    When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. ..

    Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds —the so-called circumpolar vortex—that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world…

  13. #13 Peter Hartmann
    June 5, 2013

    I made this in response to a Time Magazine Cover Parade some time ago, still makes me laugh :)

  14. #14 Marilou Hall
    Upstate NY
    June 5, 2013

    Not that long ago, we were very rightly concerned about polluting our environment, filling the air and the water and the soil with toxic by-products of our industrial activities. It was very easy to say when any of these natural resources was contaminated, and almost as easy to determine exactly where the source of contamination was occurring. Somehow, in the early 1990s, those who contaminate our planet for their own greedy means commandeered the discussion about pollution and changed the focus to climate change. I realize that one of the outcomes of pollution is climate change, and it is a hugely destructive and apocalyptic outcome, but it also a longer term outcome, more difficult to prove on a case by case basis, and fraught with many challenges to accurately document so that the general public can easily comprehend the immediate problem. Added to that, the naysayers do have, in their favor, several millions of years of natural climate change data they use to undermine public confidence in current scientific predictions.

    Climate change is an issue because we pollute the environment . We can easily prove that industry practices pollutes the environment. Why have we allowed the argument of contaminating this planet to be hijacked by the monsters who are ruining our air and water and soil? By focussing on climate change, vast amounts of scientific energy and goodwill is expended on proving and ‘reproving’ the value of the date and the models, meanwhile, the pollution of the planet continues essentially unchanged. There was a time when activists confronted individual polluters at individual sites and got action. Now, with the attention on climate change and not on specific rivers, or landfills or air sheds, the targets are amorphous, the cause and effect not so clear. . It makes one wonder who exactly is benefitting from all the climate change summits, the earth or the polluters?

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    June 5, 2013

    Peter, what?

  16. #16 Mark Davess
    June 5, 2013

    I’d like to add to this the little point that I first heard about the threat of global warming when the science around it was used in a sci-fi story about a future earth, a major part of the history of which was the catastrophe that befell the earth in the 21st century due to warming from pollutants. I don’t think that story was unique either. That would have been about 1975. I told my mother about it, and that she shouldn’t buy aerosols or use her car so much, and she told me I was being silly. And I do remember some articles and things speculating about if an ice age might come again soon, but they were always very speculative, and not a part of the news, or any serious focus of concern, and existed alongside other such stuff,as we still, quite reasonably, have today, such as whether we could become capable of intergalactic travel. An important thing to bear in mind here too, is how younger people of course don’t remember times before they were born, and actually can end up believing that things were very different to what they were, thus making them open to this kind of disinformation.

  17. #17 David Kirtley
    June 5, 2013

    Thanks for the comments.

    I second Greg’s comment to Peter: What?

    Daughter # 3 and Simon: I noticed how the fake-skeptic cover used the design of the real cover. They kept the same “cancer” headline but changed the woman in the photo. (I’m not sure who these two women are. Cancer survivors?) The middle headline about Baghdad got changed to one about detente with the Soviets. And the last one about the tv show The Sopranos was changed to M.A.S.H. Pretty clever, but Daughter # 3 is right, that isn’t the design used in the 1970s.

    I was curious about what date is on the fake cover. I think it says April but the resolution isn’t too good and I can’t read it. (Anyone know how to clean it up??) I wonder if the fake-skeptics just kept the date that was on the real 2007 cover (April 9) or if they changed it to an accurate date of a real 1977 cover (which would have been April 4,11,18, or 25).

    Jim: sorry about Weart’s name. I fixed it in my original google doc. Maybe Greg can fix it here.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    June 5, 2013


    Oh, I see.. peter has a link in his post, cleverly embedded with HTML so I did not see it:

  19. […] The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley[Via Greg Laden's Blog] […]

  20. […] been floating around the Internet for some time. (Hat tip to the science blogger David Kirtley, who posted on this a couple of days ago.) You can see it […]

  21. #21 kevin
    June 6, 2013,9171,944914,00.html

    So now Time is right but was wrong then?

    Have cake and eat it?

  22. #22 kevin
    June 6, 2013

    Oops forgot about awaiting moderation/disappearance practiced of this blog.
    Guess I’ll have to rely on screencaps.

  23. #23 StevoR
    June 7, 2013

    Whoah. The Climate Deniers really don’t have any shame at all do they? Did they rally, honestly , think they’d get away with that?

  24. […] women Labor Should Demand Political Value for Money Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley An Abortion by Any Other Name: Beatriz and the Global Anti-Choice Spin Machine Should We Trust […]

  25. […] the beloved wingnut climate change denier in your life has sent you a Time Mag cover photo with a penguin supposedly showing the “coming ice age,” it’s a […]

  26. #26 Terry Doyle
    Ashland Oregon
    June 8, 2013

    I think maybe the genesis of the myth of global cooling is a conflation of “nuclear winter” and the fever dreams of conservatives who hate science. Nuclear winter was supposed to happen when great clouds of dust were kicked up by a few thousands nukes going off. Like that’d be the thing you worry most about in that situation!

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    June 8, 2013

    It isn’t really the case that concern over global cooling was a myth. There was concern. The part about it being a myth is that this concern has been reconstructed as equally valid in comparison to understanding of climate science 40 or so years later, that mention of ice ages 50 years ago means that climate science has always been confused, and as is documented in this excellent bit of research (blog post above) 1970s cooling is mythologized further by fabricating phony evidence making it look like a bigger deal than it was.

    But yes, I think the nuclear winter fed into this idea then, and conservative hatred and fear of science had fed into it in more recent decades as a valid point of concern has been turned into a Fox News style lie.

  28. #28 Green Eagle
    Los Angeles
    June 8, 2013

    There is one thing missing from this story that I would really like to know. Were you ever able to discover who was responsible for producing this forged Time cover? So much of the output of the right is out and out lying disguised as serious commentary (their entire response to the climate issue is a perfect example) that I think it is important to track down, if we can, who is behind the lies.

  29. #29 David Kirtley
    June 8, 2013

    Green Eagle, Bryan Walsh at TIME mag

    traced the cover back to April 2012 at this site:

    which is an Intelligent Design site (!) They acknowledge that the cover is a fake, and in the comments it seems like the cover appeared in a previous post which was then deleted.
    You’ll notice that on the image there is a web-address: I looked around on this weird, new-age site run by someone named Natalina and found this from May 2011:

    It’s about crazy weather. Anyway, at the bottom of the piece is this note: “****This article previously contained an image of a Time magazine cover predicting a coming Ice Age. It was brought to our attention that the image was photoshopped… so we’ve removed it.”

    In the comments section we learn that in June 2012 a reader (Will S,) showed Natalina that the image was a fake. Will S. said, “But faked covers like the one on the left don’t do our side, i.e. the side of skeptics of CAGW (‘catastrophic anthropogenic global warming’) any favours; we should instead point to actual words, properly sourced and documented, and show when and where they actually promoted the opposite hysteria, to that which they promote today.”

    I don’t know where the faked image goes from there. I guess I could contact Natalina and the Intelligent Design site but this is about as far down the rabbit hole I want to go.

  30. […] Greg Laden featured a very nice debunking of the 1970s ice age predictions myth by David Kirtley, who identified a Time Magazine cover photo that was doctored in 2009. […]

  31. #31 Jim Thomerson
    June 9, 2013

    I took courses in meterology and climatology around 1956-57. Because we know so little then, compared to what is known now, I am very careful not to present my self as any sort of expert on the matter. I’ve seen some comments on the short doubling times of scientific knowledge. From 1957 to 2013 is some 55 years. If doubling time for climate knowledge has been a leisurely five years, that is is 11 doublings. 1-2-4-8-16-32-64-126-258-516-1038-2076. No doubt the increase in climate knowledge over 55 years has been a lot, whatever the real number is.

  32. […] the beloved wingnut climate change denier in your life has sent you a Time Mag cover photo with a penguin supposedly showing the “coming ice age,” it’s a […]

  33. #33 Ken Fabian
    June 10, 2013

    It’s a shame that the US Academy of Science’s 1975 report “Understanding Climate Change: A Program for Action” is yet to make it into digital format and made available online. Commissioned in response to the media fuss about ‘imminent global cooling, it made clear that understanding of climate was insufficient to make any such predictions – from it’s foreword –

    “…we do not have a good quantitative understanding of our climate machine and what determines its course. Without the fundamental understanding, it does not seem possible to predict climate…“.

    The NAS – and every leading science body – failed to confirm global cooling as a danger that requires urgent and global action, but what it did do was set in train some focused scientific efforts to build that foundation of understanding of how the climate system. When that was built the results have been considered more than solid enough that the NAS – and every peak science body – does urge global action.

  34. #34 Ken Fabian
    June 10, 2013

    In last paragraph, make that “foundation of how the climate system WORKS.”

  35. […] to David Kirtley for the […]

  36. […] to David Kirtley ;for the […]

  37. […] Time Magazine cover in the Mail on Sunday? Well, the simple answer is that there weren’t any real Time covers which supported his point, otherwise I’m sure he would have used one of them. His point was, […]

  38. […] that an Ice Age was coming. The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming. The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers Even most climate change skeptics know better than to use that myth as it's so easily debunked. […]

  39. #39 James Okamoto
    September 30, 2013

    The planet is getting cooler. At least the polar bears are happy now.

  40. #40 Not gullible
    October 3, 2013

    “But why fake the 1977 cover? ”
    It was faked by someone (a believer in global warming) who wanted to pwn the skeptics. He succeeded.

  41. #41 Harry Wiggs
    October 14, 2013

    Not gullibe at #40…you got any *proof* of that, or is that just a personal opinion, borne of delusions?

  42. #43 Greg Laden
    October 14, 2013

    That would be funny, Mr. Gullible, but I don’t think so!

  43. #44
    Sea of Tranquility, The Moon
    October 18, 2013

    I like the way one photoshop job trumps two real Time covers here:

  44. #45
    Sea of Tranquility, The Moon
    October 18, 2013

    My previous comment doesn’t deserve publishing, I see you did address three Time covers that weren’t faked, but apparently have been taken out of context. When you say:

    “Fake-skeptics read these stories and only focus on the Coming Ice Age angle, and they enlarge the importance of those scientists who focused on that angle.”

    Realize that the first of your lists from Popular Technology strikes a very balanced tone:

    “While a silent majority of the scientific community may have been more skeptical, you ironically find one of the most outspoken supporters of modern day Al Gore style global warming alarmism was promoting global cooling in the 1970s, the late Dr. Steven Schneider.”

    A lot of irony there, and if 97% of active publishers on climate change are in agreement, that makes me more skeptical about the environment in that community. You really think if you took all the scientific minds who were actively looking at the data, the minority opinion would only amount to 3%? The publishing community on climate changed is an old boys network, a closed society keeping out the minorities much like they used to do in country clubs.

  45. #46 dean
    October 19, 2013

    Note, MikeC, that Time is not now and never was a journal of science. The fact that they had one, or two, or a handful, of articles about cooling, does not mean anything in terms of today’s science.

  46. #47 Mal Adapted
    October 20, 2013

    You really think if you took all the scientific minds who were actively looking at the data, the minority opinion would only amount to 3%?

    Do you think you can tell who has a “scientific mind” and who doesn’t? What does “actively looking at the data” mean to you? What do you think is required, to understand climate science well enough to be an expert? Does in-depth knowledge of the subject make a difference? How do you think that kind of knowledge is acquired?

    The publishing community on climate changed is an old boys network, a closed society keeping out the minorities much like they used to do in country clubs.

    Why do you think that? Have you ever submitted a scientific article for publication? Have you ever presented a paper at a scientific conference?

    Have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect?

  47. […] Posted by Phazer Probably. Here are some covers from Time magazine: 1973 1979: Nice try. The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley – Greg Laden's Blog Blasphemy is a victimless crime.…&feature=feedf […]

  48. […] is a fake? You even linked the image from the article on saying it was a fake. scienceblogs/com Now why would someone fake something like this? Propaganda anyone? That image was created and […]

  49. #51 anonymous
    January 6, 2014

    It’s 60 degrees below zero in certain parts of the United
    States today.

    and the top grossing film in the nation involves eternal winter….

  50. #52 panther75
    January 7, 2014

    If global warming was a fact, every scientist would agree. Not every scientist agrees. Why was it changed from global warming to climate change? Doesn’t the climate always change? Isn’t there only temp records dating back to 1880’s? Going off 135 years of data?

  51. #53 Greg Laden
    January 7, 2014

    Panther, it was not “changed from global warming to climate change.” Both terms mean something, one is inclusive of the other, people tend to go back and forth. There are conspiracy theories and I’ve seen people argue over the history of the terms … it turns out to be a bit complicated … but using the fact that there are two words for one thing is poor evidence for the science at issue.

    If every single scientist, or any other group of people, fully agreed on the same thing that would be strange. There are scientists, a very small number, who disagree with almost every other scientist on almost every thing scientists have come to generally agree on.

    Your own side of this fake argument, the denialists, claim that consensus is not argument (and that is correct depending on what one means by argument) so it is funny to see you using consensus as data. But the truth is that if the vast majority of scientists in a given field come to thing the same thing is likely true, or accurate, or actually happened, etc. etc. within that scientific field, than that is a good clue that that thing is for real, especially when it is something that has been given very careful consideration and that has been addressed, argued about, fought over, etc. in the peer reviewed literature, at conferences, and in other venues for years.

    So, what is the consensus regarding climate change?

    Here is a close look at the issue of consensus about climate change and/or global warming

  52. #54 Scott
    January 14, 2014

    you people can’t even accurately predict tomorrows weather. Go to the highest peaks and the lowest depths and judge (be honest) your significance on this planet… have little to no impact on this place…..a bit grandiose to think you, little ol you has that much influence on this planet….get real…& you people cal the “deniers” crazy….mirror time

  53. #55 Scott
    January 14, 2014

    you warmers create diversions…you probably photoshopped the cover for just that purpose: see this site & learn:

  54. #56 Sylvester B
    January 14, 2014

    I think I have finally figured out how to deal with anomalies, and graphs which show a zero or slightly negative slope of the anomalies do not necessarily show a stable global temperature. Since the anomalies are calculated vs. an average of previous years, if the temperature continues to increase at the average rate the anomaly curve will be zero. Right? Have I decoded the anomaly correctly?

  55. #58 DannyE
    February 6, 2014

    So many comments filled with ignorance. 1978 was the year climate “scientists” predicted the glaciers would cover the USA down to kansas city.

    Widely reported in all the magazines and especially omni.

    More alarmist religion from the truly ignorant.

  56. #59 joe
    jacksonville, fl.
    February 10, 2014

    I just watched on you tube an episode of the old in search of series called the coming ice age. Leonard Nimoy talks about climate scientists worried about global cooling.

  57. #60 Greg Laden
    February 10, 2014

    Yes, there was talk about global cooling in the 1970s.

  58. #61 HarveyMushman
    Lost Angeles
    February 13, 2014

    Here is a small list of articles on global cooling/coming ice age that were published in the 1970s. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t change the facts…

  59. #62 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2014

    Sorry, Harvey, I don’t allow links to blatant science denialist site on this blog. I have kids that I care about.

  60. #63 Adam R.
    February 13, 2014

    The American Meteorological Society has a very useful paper on the myth of a consensus in the ’70s that global cooling was imminent:

    It shows that, by far, most scientific papers published during the period predicted warming.

    Of course the story was an artifact of (some) of the public media, not the general opinion of scientists studying the climate. “Skeptics” clinging to this old story just show how impoverished their whole argument is.

  61. #64 valerie
    February 13, 2014

    As we are hit with freezing weather , all I remember is the Time magazine cover of the ice age coming from the ’70’s but the people who predicted that are now politically involved with the left and their dopey global warming. So I pulled it up and found this, the Ice Age was made up by Time and their writers in the ’70’s. I bet in another 40 years the Global warming articles will be fiction as well. One nice thing about aging is watching all this and knowing the truth !

  62. #65 Dow Davis
    Kensington, Md.
    February 23, 2014

    Let’s all get together and smear opponents by equating them to holocaust deniers. Then lets change the term “global warming” to “climate change” when we learn the “inconvenient truth ” that the earth is not warming, at least for the last 15 years. Finally, let’s stifle dissent by having the President state that “science” says the climate change issue is settled and incontrovertible and have John Kerry tell people that climate change is a weapon of mass destruction (wielded by the polluting Chinese and Indians, no doubt).

  63. #66 Greg Laden
    February 23, 2014

    The Earth has been warming for the last 15 years. Climate change is settled science.

  64. #67 Navyman Norm
    March 11, 2014

    It’s Called WEATHER… Climate Change MY ASS. MORONS!!!

    And the WEATHER cahnges every day, every year. But when Obama’s Muslim brothers in Iran uneash an EMP attak over us, you will have YOUR Climate Change when the GRID is GONE!!

  65. #68 dean
    March 11, 2014

    Almost bingo: no difference between weather and climate, the President is a Muslim partnering with a foreign government, and the mythical threat of some type of attack (the dreaded statement of EMP by someone who most likely doesn’t understand any of it). Come-on #67, you can “conspiracy” better than that.

  66. #69 Greg Laden
    March 11, 2014

    The EMP attack lacks sufficient causality. I recommend adding contrails.

  67. #70 Opie
    May 16, 2014

    No different than the faux science GW alarmist are feeding us now. leave out any data lately, lololol? What goes around, comes around. Ever wonder why they don’t call it GW anymore? Because we haven’t been for the last 16 years. CG here we come. now, where is my grant money, so I don’t have to get a real job.

  68. #71 Greg Laden
    May 16, 2014

    Opie, We still call it global warming, and the globe is still warming.

  69. […] in the 1970s. If you're basing this on those stupid magazine covers, that's already been debunked. The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley – Greg Laden's Blog Originally Posted by androokwomo Bro, about 1/3 of the original "global warming" […]

  70. […] the thing is that the “How To Survive The Coming Ice Age” cover is a known fake. It’s a doctored version of this TIME Magazine cover from April 9, […]

  71. #74 TommyD6of11
    New York
    November 21, 2014

    I am sorry, but I was there and I DO REMEMBER the covers of magazines predicting a new ICE AGE in the 1970’s.

    It was presented as real and serious.

    SO NOW you say, “Oh, pay no attention to the Global Cooling scientists of the 1970’s.”

    It eventually faded away since it was obviously false, but there was never any great backlash from the scientific community.

    You can convince willing believers that they weren’t serious back in the 1970’s, but you still have to explain why today’s scientists who were absolutely certain (the science is settled) had to change the name from GLOBAL WARMING to CLIMATE CHANGE.

    So what was that all about?

    You guys said the science was settled.

  72. #75 Greg Laden
    November 21, 2014

    Yes, people were concerned about the ice age in those days. The orbital geometry idea had been tested by then against the deep sea core records, and people were thinking about it. Also, there had been one of those occasional “pauses” in the overall trend of warming.

    It didn’t fade away because it was false. Concern over a coming ice age faded away because further research indicated that we were pushing atmospheric CO2 levels well above any threshold that would disallow an ice age to kick in even when orbital geometry favored it.

    This is not about willing believers. This is about the science.

    Nobody was certain “in those days” about an ice age coming.

    There was never a change from “global warming” to “climate change.” Both have been used all along. They mean somewhat different but related and overlapping things.

    What is your agenda, here, TommyD6of11?

  73. #76 Marco
    November 21, 2014

    I always ask those who claim scientists had to change the name from global warming to climate change:
    a) when that supposed change in terminology was made
    b) what the “CC” in “IPCC” stands for
    c) when the IPCC was formed
    Perhaps unsurprisingly, those questions are never answered.

  74. #77 Greg Laden
    November 21, 2014

    Ha. Great questions, I’ll have to start doing that. Might even be worth a blog post. Want to write a guest blog post?

  75. #78 Astrostevo
    Adelaide hills, South Australia
    November 22, 2014

    @64. valerie :

    “As we are hit with freezing weather, .. “

    Whose “we” here? Its summer and getting hotter where I live!

    “.. all I remember is the Time magazine cover of the ice age coming from the ’70’s but the people who predicted that are now politically involved with the left and their dopey global warming.”

    Really? Not so sure bout that. I recall reading articles in Science year book encyclopedia from the 1970’s where both “coming ice age” and “global warming*” ideas where discussed and if memory serves they said the latter – ie global warming* was more likely.

    Also the actual scientists tended to be apolitical and non-polemical. Some of the commentators and pundits outside of the science less so of course, natch.

    “So I pulled it up and found this, the Ice Age was made up by Time and their writers in the ’70’s. I bet in another 40 years the Global warming articles will be fiction as well.”

    I’ll take that bet. I bet you’ll lose.

    Also, bzzt. No. It wasn’t made up by Time writers although they may have publicised someof teh climatological debate sat the time.

    “One nice thing about aging is watching all this and knowing the truth!”

    Or thinking you know the truth anyhow.

    See also this excellent debunking of the ‘In the 70s, They said there’d be an Ice Age’ canard by Greenman3610 / Peter Sinclair :

  76. #79 Astrostevo
    November 22, 2014

    ^ * “Global warming” strikes me as the wrong term too because ‘warming” has too many pleasant connotations and doesn’t accurately describe the reality that our planet is getting too hot.

    Personally I prefer the description of HIRGO – Human-Induced Rapid Global Overheating as the most accurate and descriptive way of terming the issue.

    Plus those who use the idea that the world isn’t getting hotter after all may want to read this :

    Warmest October on record in the same year that we’ve had the warmest ever April, May, June, August and September -and it isn’t even an El Nino year! Yikes. Co-incidence? (Obi- wan voice) Oh I don’t think so! (/Obi-wan Kenobi voice)

  77. #80 Astrostevo
    Adelaide hills, South Australia
    November 22, 2014

    @67. Navyman Norm :

    It’s Called WEATHER… Climate Change MY ASS!

    Shouting doesn’t make it so – or even make it clear what you are referring to here Norm.

    Weather and climate change both exist and are different things as is HIRGO or Global Overheating.

    “And the WEATHER cahnges every day, every year.”

    Hell, the weather can change every hour and even in the space of a few minutes depending on where and when you are. The climate? Not so much.

    But when Obama’s Muslim brothers in Iran ..

    Hmm .. usually the “Obama is a secret Muslim” mob are coy on exactly which islamic brothers Obama has and which branch of that global diverse religion he supposedly follows.

    I wouldn’t have thought Iran would be high on that list because firstly, they are Sunni whereas the groups Obama has most notably been tied to are Sunni. For ex. – the Saudis to whose King he bowed to (Oh shock horror! Showing a foreign dignity some basic politeness ! Can’t have that can we!) are Sunni. Secondly, Indonesia where Obama apparently maybe went to a mosque as a kid is Sunni – and, btw, the largest Muslim though not Arab nation. Finally the woman who told McCain, Obama was an Arab (or Ay-rab rather!) in espousing that perspective – despite Obama’s skin colour and physical non-Arab nature.

    Note here that Arabs and Persians aka Iranians are very diffferent groups with a bitter history of some antagonism between them and Shiite Iran hates the Sunni Arabs historically to the point of ongoing sectarian warfare now between them incl. the Syria-Iraq -Is-IL/S conflict currently raging.

    So even *IF* Obama was a “secret Muslim”, it strikes me as most unlikely he’d be working with Iran and more likely that he’d be working against them. Of course even the first of those is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence as per Sagan’s law. (If Obama is actually a secret anything I suspect he’s more likely a secret agnostic / atheist.)

    “..uneash an EMP attak over us, you will have YOUR Climate Change when the GRID is GONE!!”

    Nope. That won’t change the climate although I guess it would mean people experience it more directly without the benefits of air-con. Enough nuclear weaponry detonated could cause a Nuclear winter but Iran lacks nuclear bombs at all and it is highly unlikely to be quickly manufacturing enough to cause that effect.

    So, sorry, but you are fractally wrong in your comment there – still thanks for the laughs!

  78. #81 Astrostevo
    November 22, 2014

    D’oh! Correction – that’s :

    I wouldn’t have thought Iran would be high on that list because firstly, Iran are Shia Muslims whereas the groups Obama has most notably been tied to are Sunni.

    Please feel free to edit and correct for me if you are so inclined Greg Laden.

  79. #82 Marco
    November 22, 2014

    Nah, no guest post from me, Greg. You can elevate my questions to a guest post, of course, so you can easier link to that whenever someone comes up with the “they had to change the name to climate change” canard again.

    And if need be, there’s the following:

  80. #83 Anonymous
    January 16, 2015

    […] fact check some of that and not unintentionally perpetuate dishonest hoaxes like that Time cover. The 1970s Ice Age Myth and Time Magazine Covers – by David Kirtley – Greg Laden's B… __________________ __________________ He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great […]

  81. #84 Robert Wheeler
    January 17, 2015

    The author should read the June 24, 1974 issue of Time and the April 28,1974 isuue of Newsweek which were both alarmist about the chilling of the planet. NOAA was one of the main sources quoted in the Newsweek ariticle citing temperature drops at that time which is now warning us about it being the hottest year ever. They can’t have it both ways.

  82. #85 Greg Laden
    January 17, 2015

    Robert, you need to get it straight. It is true that in the 1960s and 70s climate scientists were looking at both cooling and warming. That is not in dispute. It is also true that concern 40 years ago about cooling is not even a tiny bit relevant to the reality of global waarming, or to NOAA or NASA talking about the warmest year having just happened.

  83. #86 kilroy
    January 28, 2015

    For you children who depend on Wiki and Google for your “science”, I _lived_ through the global *** of the 1970s. There absolutely _was_ a great hue and cry about the coming ice age. Scientists (the very same scientists who were shouting global warming in the 1990s) were decrying the miles of ice that were to bury us by the year 2000.
    There was even a plan to scatter carbon black on the polar caps to gather more solar heat in the attempt to prevent that ice age.
    The cause then, as now, was that of maintaining the cash flow of government grants for the ‘study’ of climate.

  84. #87 Greg Laden
    January 28, 2015

    Kilroy: Yes, as has been stated several times, both warming and cooling were being considered then. Recent research starting in the 1960s with deep sea core recovery and going into the 1970s with the test of the orbital geometry hypothesis had brought ice ages into the forefront, but global warming due to the release of greenhouse gasses had been on the table for a century and concern was growing then.

    There’s the thing. This is not simple. None of this is simple. The climate is complex and climate science is complex. There seems to be an entire category of science denier arguments that are based, ultimately, on the idea that if something is complex it can’t be understood, or more exactly, since the climate is complex, it can’t be changing. That is a form of argument from incredulity, and it is incorrect.

  85. #88 Marco
    January 28, 2015

    Greg, you are being too kind to Kilroy.
    Read it, it destroys several of Kilroy’s myths.

  86. #89 Robert Gunthry
    Washington DC
    February 2, 2015

    Here is the real 1979 cover. You just did not look hard enough.,9263,7601791224,00.html

  87. #90 Chardin
    February 18, 2015

    That’s it? The question is reduced to ‘why didn’t Time do a cover on it’ if it was such a big deal? Who knows why? Maybe because they didn’t have to compete with a host of internet and cable competitors for readers. Maybe because everyone from the NYT to the Chicago Tribune to the Eugene Register-Guard had already published reams on the topic.
    The point is that academic science can’t use sensationalism to derive funding without being called on it if it is found to be false. That’s just what happened in the 1970’s, so excuse us if we exercise skepticism today.

  88. #91 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2015

    So, Chardin, your current disbelief in basic physics is predicated on your almost certainly incorrect perception that grants were written to scientists owing to the strength of their marketing efforts in major media.


  89. #92 Ned
    February 18, 2015

    From what I can tell, the people with the best background in physical climate modeling (Manabe, Wetherall, Broecker, Hansen, etc.) knew in the 1970s that the future would be dominated by greenhouse-gas-induced warming. (See, e.g., Broecker’s 1976 paper that had both “global warming” and “climate change” in its title).

    At the same time, some other people – mostly those who did not have as strong a background in physical climate modeling – were influenced by discussion of Milankovich cycles to speculate that we might be nearing the end of the current interglacial.

    The people in the first group were right, and those in the second group were wrong.

    But for some reason, fake-skeptics like to claim that the existence of the second group somehow invalidates the correct reasoning of the first group.

    Frankly, it’s just another example of how so much of climate contrarianism is based not just on misinformation or bad data, but on bad reasoning.

  90. #93 Astrostevo
    Adelaide hills, South Australia
    February 18, 2015

    You know back in the 1970’s (indeed intothe 1980′;s if memory serves) there was also debate about whether quasars were extremely distant galaxies or strange objects that were very much nearer to us but somehow only appeared further away and thus more powerful.

    There was the Big Bang theory versus the Steady State theory.

    Yet somehow today we don’t argue that because some scientists then thought quasars were nearby or the universe infinite with no Beginning that somehow means the modern understandingand scientific consensus is wrong.

    Just as the phlogiston theory of fire was once widely held and argued for doesn’t mean that our modern understanding of chemical combustion is somehow invalid and the scientists wrong to change their mind and drop the old no longer tenable theory based on the evidence.

    Scientists back in the year umpty ump however long or short ago saying ‘X’ when they and we now say ‘Y ‘ really isn’t an actual argument against ‘Y’ being true, just a curious bit of history that shows how much we’ve learnt.

    Climate reality Deniers that say otherwise are really not very bright or logical.

  91. #94 Astrostevo
    February 18, 2015

    @ Chardin :

    “The point is that academic science can’t use sensationalism to derive funding without being called on it if it is found to be false. That’s just what happened in the 1970’s, ..”

    It is? Is it really? I don’t think so.

    I don’t think climate scientists were out to sensationalise their findings back then and I think they stressed the uncertainties and doubts and different possibilities at the time.

    “so excuse us if we exercise skepticism today.”

    You are excused. You – and everyone else – are always welcome to exercise skepticism, I’m not quite sure that’s what you are really doing here though and that’s a question -‘Are you really being skeptical here?’ which I think you would do well to consider for yourself.

  92. #95 Astrostevo
    February 18, 2015

    @ 86. kilroy :

    “For you children who depend on Wiki and Google for your “science”, I _lived_ through the global *** of the 1970s. There absolutely was_ a great hue and cry about the coming ice age.”

    Y’know I think I’ll still to actual tangible physical evidence such as articles and scientific papers and so on from that time. Human memory is sadly, not always relaible as has been found in a lot of experiments on eyewitness testimony for example. Our memory is not the same as photographs or recordings or ice cores and not as trustworthy. As the old saying goes the plural of anecdote isn’t anec-data.

    .. the very same scientists who were shouting global warming in the 1990s were decrying the miles of ice that were to bury us by the year 2000.

    Some of those scientists maybe but certainly not all and likely not the majority. Stephen Schneider for instance was one scientists who famously once suggested that an ice age could be on its way – although with a lot of caveats as noted no further away than wikipedia :

    In 1971, Schneider was second author on a Science paper with S. I. Rasool titled “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate” (Science 173, 138–141). This paper used a one-dimensional radiative transfer model to examine the competing effects of cooling from aerosols and warming from CO2. The paper concluded:

    “However, it is projected that man’s potential to pollute will increase 6 to 8-fold in the next 50 years. If this increased rate of injection… should raise the present background opacity by a factor of 4, our calculations suggest a decrease in global temperature by as much as 3.5 °C. Such a large decrease in the average temperature of Earth, sustained over a period of few years, is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age. However, by that time, nuclear power may have largely replaced fossil fuels as a means of energy production.[5]”

    Carbon dioxide was predicted to have only a minor role. However, the model was very simple and the calculation of the CO2 effect was lower than other estimates by a factor of about three, as noted in a footnote to the paper.

    The story made headlines in the New York Times. Shortly afterwards, Schneider became aware that he had overestimated the cooling effect of aerosols, and underestimated the warming effect of CO2 by a factor of about three. He had mistakenly assumed that measurements of air particles he had taken near the source of pollution applied worldwide. He also found that much of the effect was due to natural aerosols which would not be affected by human activities, so the cooling effect of changes in industrial pollution would be much less than he had calculated. Having found that recalculation showed that global warming was the more likely outcome, he published a retraction of his earlier findings in 1974.[6]

    In a 1976 book The Genesis Strategy he discusses both long-term warming due to carbon dioxide and short-term cooling due to aerosols,[7] ..

    Stephen Schneieider passed away about five years ago and thus is no longer around. many of the current climate scientists are in fact young folks in their twenties and thirties and thus were not even born at the time.

    “The cause then, as now, was that of maintaining the cash flow of government grants for the ‘study’ of climate.”

    That is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. Do you actually have any extraordinary evidence to back that offensive conspiracy theory allegation up?

    Do you really think climate scientists are actually getting rich from devoting their lives to understanding our climate and do you really think that’s what mainly motivates them – and if that were so why go into science as opposed to business or working for , say, a fossil fuel giant that rakes in far more with arguably much less brainpower and effort required?

    Also note that a scientist who broke ranks and disproved or who “blew the whistle” on the supposed “conspiracy” here would earn far more and be hailed by so many many rich and powerful people as well as not having to come up with tough peer-reviewed science papers that contradict – in your scenario -actual reality. The absence of such occurrence in essence invalidates your absurd proposition there and destroys the already obviously silly idea of any such conspiracy.

  93. #96 Chris O'Neill
    February 18, 2015


    Scientists .. were decrying the miles of ice that were to bury us by the year 2000.

    That would have been Reid Bryson:

    the very same scientists who were shouting global warming in the 1990s

    Er, no. Reid Bryson remained a human-caused global warming denialist until he died.

    You’re just spreading a lie. Shame on you.

  94. #97 Chris O'Neill
    February 19, 2015

    Robert Gunthry:

    Here is the real 1979 cover.

    1979? The media certainly like beating-up a dead horse don’t they? This is what scientists were saying in 1976 (in New Scientist):

    “The growing disturbance of the global balance of carbon dioxide is without doubt mankind’s greatest single impact on the environment”.

    Thanks for reminding us that the media like to do beat-ups by the way.

  95. #98 JOEUPYOURS
    February 26, 2015