"Sorry, a TIME Magazine Cover Did Not Predict a Coming Ice Age"… It was just a TIME article.

Guest Post by David Middleton

You can always count in TIME magazine’s Bryan Walsh for a good laugh…

Well, I suppose that Mr. Walsh is correct that a 1977 TIME magazine cover did not predict “another ice age.” The prediction (sort of a prediction) was from a 1974 TIME magazine article…

The full text of the article can be accessed through Steve Goddard’s Real Science.

TIME, like most of the mainstream-ish media, has acted like a climate weathervane over the years…

Dan Gainor compiled a great timeline of media alarmism (both warming and cooling) in his Fire and Ice essay.

While the 1977 TIME cover was a fake, this 1975 magazine cover and article were very real…

Energy and Climate: Studies in Geophysics was a 1977 National Academies publication. It featured what appears to be the same temperature graph, clearly demonstrating a mid-20th century cooling trend…

The mid-20th Century cooling trend is clearly present in the instrumental record, at least in the northern hemisphere…

So, why are the warmists so obsessed with denying this? Is the mid-20th century cooling period so “inconvenient” that it has to be erased from history like the Medieval Warm Period?


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Just had a long and fruitful discussion at a warmist site on the topic. I hope we all came to the conclusion that ice age predictions were hype but a global cooling consensus existed, at least at the beginning of the 1960s and then 10 years later, until 1975.


There are a few on-line references here, including links to Newsweek and Science Magazine pdf files.

There were Time articles in both 1977 (a cover story entitled “The Big Freeze”) and 1974 (or here). There was also a 1975 Newsweek article on climate change, a 1972 Windsor Star article on climate change (or here), 1974 CIA Report on climate change (or here), 1978 documentary on The Coming Ice Age (narrated by Leonard Nimoy), and many, many, other similar stories (discussed on WUWT here).
PopTech has a http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/02/the-1970s-global-cooling-alarmism.html
list of about 100 similar articles from the 1970s in various publications, including these two Time articles.


I believe the cover that most people think of is this one
The article from 31 Jan 1977 was about the unusual cold winter

Bruce Cobb

Previous examples of climate hype, of course, were relatively harmless. The climate hype, misinformation, and lies the MSM have spewed for the past couple of decades however has been monsterously destructive. It has been an all-out war on actual science and truth, a la Orwell’s 1984. I wonder if, with the coming cooling they will ever say “we’re sorry; we were wrong. It turns out there are climate cycles, and the warming was just part of one such cycle, just as the cooling is now”? Well, I can dream, can’t I?

This is a pretty good sample of why this issue will not go away. The actual temps do not matter much to the Statist meddlers and modelers. It’s an excuse to redesign society and take control over the direction of the economy. And I say that as someone who has read Club of Rome document after document. This excerpt is actually from the Brookings Metropolitanism initiative from yesterday.
“Finally, the environment, climate change, and global solidarity will be defining themes of the twenty-first century. Acting on their own, nation-states can successfully address neither tax avoidance nor carbon emissions. The renewed patriotism seen in many places – a response to the unfairness and dislocation that globalization can generate – must be reconciled with human solidarity, respect for diversity, and the ability to work across national borders. The success of Germany’s Green Party reflects the focus that it has placed on many of these issues.”
A massive environmental threat is the excuse for a State-directed Social Welfare state everywhere. It’s being called the Regenerative Society, the Support Economy, the Cooperative Commonwealth, Capitalism 3.0, the Foundational State just to name a few. All are focused on a “needs” economy.
If there is no actual threat, the UN, the OECD, and the World Bank have lost their justification for international redistribution as well as regional distribution. Part of this vision is also to transfer the prosperity of the SE or Texas to Cleveland and Detroit and the Twin Cities. Same is true in other countries. Equity means equity. It’s not just among people but geographically as well.
That’s why they are so obsessed. If the extent of the fraud were better understood, the public sector would be in disrepute globally. We would be back to the kind of first-hand knowledge of the horrors of consolidated political and economic power that the US Founding Fathers remembered from 17th and 18th century Europe’s wars.
They were not idealogues. They knew their history and they had experienced tyranny and they wrote accordingly. We are experiencing tyranny today but it is financial and regulatory and delivered invisibly through education this time.

I’m sure the author is familiar (even if the posters are not) with the fact that 1970s scientific literature was actually predicting, by a 6-to-1 margin, global warming rather than global cooling, to the extent such articles made a prediction one way or the other. Scientists knew in the 1970s and before that aerosols reflected incoming solar radiation (causing cooling), and that GHGs trapped reflected solar energy (causing warming), but there was some discussion as to which would be the dominant forcing going forward. The great majority of scientists engaged in that debate correctly concluded that the warming of GHGs would trump the cooling of aerosols. See the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (September 2008) and the NOAA (2009), both of which surveyed all the peer reviewed literature from the decade of the 70s:


An interesting timeline of Time’s pendulum swings. By my reckoning the next tick of the pendulum will be an ice age story in about 2027, but it may come as soon as 2016 or as late as 2036.

Big Don

Ecocentric’s stated interest is “All things green”, yet their logo is red. hmm


So, Hansen announces man made global warming in 1988.
If the ice age scare stopped by 1979, how many years of observation and experiment did Hansen do to arrive at his conclusion by 1988?
How robust is that, and why does it take triple the time to conclude it is wrong?
We are being swindled.

Gary Pearse

One would think that the embarrassing comedown after the “imminent ice age” debacle of the 60s and 70s would have put some perspective into the topic of climate, i.e. taking a longer view. However zealots like Ehrlich and the late Dr. Schneider of ” Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest.” notoriety, (quoted in Jonathan Schell, “Our Fragile Earth,” Discover Magazine, October 1989, p. 47.) are the same players from the “ice age cometh” to now be pushing CAGW, both arising from taking first down then up slopes from the zig-zaggy temperature record that extends back for hundreds of years at least (Central England Temperatures).

Thanks for featuring the Science News article, which was relatively hype free. I remember it well and talking about it and other articles with my father. One, I think from Science News, suggested an ice age could begin quickly with snow not melting completely one summer. Soon after that I flew across country on business, I think in April or May and realized that not only did the snow have to not melt, but also cover all the vegetation. All those pine trees in the Rockies were doing a fine job keeping the albedo low, so I decided snow through one summer would be more likely well north of the US stopped worrying about it much.
A couple years after that the Keeling curve came out and then things started warming up. Good timing on that one. It set the stage 17 years, err, only 10 years or so for James Hansen to sound the alarm at Congress.

Frank K.

“So, why are the warmists so obsessed with denying this? Is the mid-20th century cooling period so “inconvenient” that it has to be erased from history like the Medieval Warm Period?”
It is because climate “science” isn’t about science – it’s all about politics (and government control of our lives). And the warmists ARE getting desperate…


NASA FACTS, April 1988

…in the early 1970’s, because temperatures had been decreasing for about 25 to 30 years, people began predicting the approach of an ice age! For the last 15 to 20 years, we have been seeing a fairly steady rise in temperatures, giving some assurance that we are now in a global warming phase.



NASA FACTS, April 1998


eric says:
June 11, 2013 at 4:22 am
I believe the cover that most people think of is this one
The article from 31 Jan 1977 was about the unusual cold winter.

I can’t get to the entire article.
Did this Time cover and article predict a coming Ice Age?
If so, then a Time magazine cover article did indeed predict a coming Ice Age.


Ice age? Are these people nuts? Here in Alberta,it is 6:43 AM MDT and we are at a balmy 4C. So when in 20 days from now,when summer starts,we should be at ,oh what…15C? I am so glad we are warming.Oh wait.Last year at this time we where at 21C. OMG. all that extra heat is in the westeren mid USA, and is warming the Pacific,according to jai.


Here’s a peer reviewed (bu James Hansen, no less) paper pooh-poohing the idea of CO2-driven warming and pushing the ice age theory.
Schneider S. & Rasool S., “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols – Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate”, Science, vol.173, 9 July 1971, p.138-141
Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate.
Strikes me I’ve heard of that Scnneider S fellow since…


How fortunate are we that our history is preserved across broadly distributed, immutable hard copy documents.
Pity our children, whose history we are now dedicating to infinitely malleable and manipulatable electronic texts, stored centrally on a relative handful of “cloud” servers.


Climate change happens.


“So, why are the warmists so obsessed with denying this? Is the mid-20th century cooling period so “inconvenient” that it has to be erased from history like the Medieval Warm Period?”
It is common practice amongst leftist intellectuals to rewrite history to fit their movement’s needs, as they don’t believe in objective reality anyway (see Plato, Kant, Ravetz).

JohnWho says:
June 11, 2013 at 5:44 am
> Did this Time cover and article predict a coming Ice Age?
Probably not, it was most likely covering the cold 1977/78 winter that brought the most hardship to Ohio. Coal and natural gas shortages forced factories and schools to close for a while. Amish schools stayed open. The next year brought blizzards to both the midwest and New England that people still talk about.
Of course, that had happened before, in 1917/18.


I have never seen such an obvious Strawman Argument in my life. Like it makes any difference what-so-ever that it was an article, and not on the front cover…just a ridiculous argument.


to be fair, i think theyre upset because people say “it used to be global cooling, now its global warming” and use TIME magazine as a reference even though it only displayed a minority of the scientific community at the time

Looking at the dates of those stories, it’s almost enough to make you think there’s some kind of basic cycle at work here. Huh. Imagine that.

Rob ricket

I have looked into this matter too in response to an online disagreement with a fella citing Skeptical Science information as proof that only a handful of scientists precipitated the 70’s cooling scare. I ran down a number of impending Ice Age stories that were listed (I believe between 80-100) in a previous WUWT post. The names behind the 70’s “Ice Age” scare read like a veritable who’s who in Climate Science. I can’t’ remember names, but professors from the University of Wisconsin and the CRU strongly supported the theory.
So while there may have only been a few proponents of the theory, I failed to uncover any contrary opinions from prominent Climatologists of the day. It’s interesting to note that a large number of the stories contained language calling for increased funding for supercomputers to crunch GCM’s. Methinks, most rank and file scientists would have jumped on board, were it not for the abrupt shift to warming in the 80’s. I also ran down a brief (allegedly from the CIA) warning of the dire consequences (most notably to food security) of increased cooling.
I’m curious to know if anyone can vouch for the authenticity of the document.

Rob ricket – I hope you do not need any further proof of authenticity for the CIA report of 1974, a document I have dug up personally from the British Library in 2009 and spent untold number of minutes scanning from microfilm on an antediluvian printer.
At the time I wrote a detailed article at Spiked Online, available at this link http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7817/ under the titie “Same fears, different name?”


At the risk of being pedantic, neither the magazine cover nor the article predicted anything, as they are inanimate objects. The author(s) formed a prediction (forecast) and wrote an article describing their ideas.


So, why are the warmists so obsessed with denying this?
Because AGW rests on denying that climate changes naturally.
They deny that nature is the most powerful force on the planet. They deny the evidence at hand. They deny that computers projections are not reality. They deny that sea levels have been higher in the past. They deny there was a Little Ice Age, a Medieval Warm Period, a Roman Warm Period, a Minoan Warm Period, and a Holocene Optimum. They deny there has ever been a time warmer than today. They deny that the oceans are today caustic and were more acidic in the past.
They deny freedom of speech to those that questions their beliefs. They deny to fund contrary research. They deny to publish contrary papers. They deny that those that believe otherwise are worthy of human rights. They deny that censorship and corruption in the name of a worthy cause are wrong. They deny that awarding special rights to belief has time and time again led to untold human suffering and death. They deny that they are the deniers.


I remember a cover of, I’m pretty sure it was Popular Science, somewhere in the 1976 to 1978 time frame that had a picture of skyscrapers being over run by a glacier.


This was in the textbooks at the time, and the “green” movement then used the coming ice age as a reason to conserve water.
Someone needs to thoroughly search Google books from the 1970’s.


oflo says:
June 11, 2013 at 6:13 am
It was a minority then.
It’s a minority now.

I think I still have a copy of the January, 1977 Time up in my attic. I’m going to go check. It actually was about the 1976-77 winter, which was the first of several in a row that froze up the harbors in Maine and made life rough for lobster men and clammers. The winter leading into it, 1975-76, was quite mild. I lived on the coast of Maine back then and remember walking on the ice well out into Casco Bay, from South Freeport harbor past Bustins Island, Little Whaleboat and Whaleboat Islands, to Harpswell. (You had to know where tidal currents were strong, for the ice was thin in such places.)
I believe the harbors froze right down to Chesapeake Bay during the winter of 1976-77, and part of the Time article was about all the troubles ports were having with shipping. I think there was also a fierce drought in California, as a big ridge in the went shunted storms up to Alaska, (and gave southern parts of Alaska a mild winter,) and then sucked air from the Pole straight down to the east coast.
By mid November the winds were northwest and remained northwest in Maine for most of the time until March. It was so cold the sea “smoked” by late November, and the harbors were starting to skim over with ice before Christmas. Because I was young and yearned for cold winters (I have changed) I thought it was awesome.

Clay Marley

The temp charts from ’75 shows a drop of about 0.4C or more from ~1940-1975. But today the HadCRUT data looks to be about half that. What’s up with that?


PaulH says:
June 11, 2013 at 6:18 am
You’re among friends, you can be pedantic if you like.
Just don’t do it in public.


A backwards in time extension of this graph would lead credance to the observation of cooling in the 1970’s.

oflo says:
June 11, 2013 at 6:13 am
to be fair, i think theyre upset because people say “it used to be global cooling, now its global warming” and use TIME magazine as a reference even though it only displayed a minority of the scientific community at the time
You must have skipped school in the 50’s and 60’s. Everyone knew the world was cooling because of the atomic bomb testing. We were headed for a nuclear winter if it continued. All the top scientists said so, so we knew it was true.
Just like they told us it was only a co-incidence that Africa and South America had similar coastlines, that it had been scientifically proven that they were never joined. Just like they told us that Ice Ages were not caused by the earth’s orbit, because it had been scientifically proven that the orbit was too regular to cause such large shifts in climate. All the top scientists agreed.
And of course when the overwhelming evidence was presented that they were wrong, well they promptly switched sides, claiming that they had said all along it was possible, just unlikely that the other side had been right. And applied for grant money to prove this.
Scientists need money like the rest of us to survive in their profession. You cannot get money from the government by adopting politically unpopular positions. The simple truth is that you cannot get money from people by telling them something they don’t want to hear. Thus modern science has by and large become slave to opinion.
Tell the crowd what they want to hear and they will love you. Tell them the truth at your peril.

Rob Potter

Matt Ridley covered this quite extensively in an Economist article (back before the Economist partook of a certain sweetened beverage):
It lists the anatomy of a scientific scare and quotes Newsweek from 1975: “Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.” I remember back then that there were no dissenting voices – this was not just a few people as is now being claimed.

Rob Potter

I have just checked the date of the Economist article I linked to – December 1997 – right about the time the temperature increase stopped……. Hmmm. Who is this Matt Ridley guy and what kind of control does he have over the environment? Now there’s a a conspiracy theory for you (;-)

Ric Werme says:
June 11, 2013 at 6:07 am
Probably not, it was most likely covering the cold 1977/78 winter that brought the most hardship to Ohio. Of course, that had happened before, in 1917/18.
60 years.

If everyone was 6-1 for global warming in the 70s, then why did the Smithsonian have a Global Cooling display from the 70s on exhibit until at least 2009?
Excuse the link it was the first one I found….

McComber Boy

Yes indeed, Newsweek did enter the fray. This NEWSWEEK article from April 28, 1975 was reprinted in Canada’s Financial Post in 2000:
April 28, 1975
The Cooling World
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. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas – parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia – where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon.
The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree – a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation. Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars’ worth of damage in 13 U.S. states.
To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the 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. “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, “because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.”
A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.
To the layman, the relatively small changes in temperature and sunshine can be highly misleading. Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin points out that the Earth’s average temperature during the great Ice Ages was only about seven degrees lower than during its warmest eras – and that the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average. Others regard the cooling as a reversion to the “little ice age” conditions that brought bitter winters to much of Europe and northern America between 1600 and 1900 – years when the Thames used to freeze so solidly that Londoners roasted oxen on the ice and when iceboats sailed the Hudson River almost as far south as New York City.
Just what causes the onset of major and minor ice ages remains a mystery. “Our knowledge of the mechanisms of climatic change is at least as fragmentary as our data,” concedes the National Academy of Sciences report. “Not only are the basic scientific questions largely unanswered, but in many cases we do not yet know enough to pose the key questions.”
Meteorologists think that they can forecast the short-term results of the return to the norm of the last century. They begin by noting the slight drop in overall temperature that produces large numbers of pressure centers in the upper atmosphere. These break up the smooth flow of westerly winds over temperate areas. The stagnant air produced in this way causes an increase in extremes of local weather such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases – all of which have a direct impact on food supplies.
“The world’s food-producing system,” warns Dr. James D. McQuigg of NOAA’s Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment, “is much more sensitive to the weather variable than it was even five years ago.” Furthermore, the growth of world population and creation of new national boundaries make it impossible for starving peoples to migrate from their devastated fields, as they did during past famines.
Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.
Reprinted from Financial Post – Canada, Jun 21, 2000
All Material Subject to Copyright.


Makes you wonder…..
Who is stupid enough to believe a fraction of a degree predicts any trend in the first place…..

Fred from Canuckistan

Are there actually people still dumb or desperate enough to pay for a Time magazine?

I’m with Buzz on this one. I do remember very well the cold winter of 76 and 76 when I lived in Dallas Tex. I also remember there was not only magazine article about global cooling, but there were several interviews in the media too on shows like Good Morning America and Today.
Yes, there was a lot of hype. But isn’t that the same thing we skeptics also try to fight? We fight against unscientific conclusions that Hurricane Sandy, or the Moore OK tornado, or the mid-west drought were “caused” or “made bigger” by global warming. It is fair to say there was very little agreement within the scientific community that there would be global cooling. The “Global Cooling Scare” appears to be more of a media created conclusion, rather than a scientific one.
We’ll be better off if we stay with science and not get distracted by this kind of stuff.

Then when Time started believing in global warming, it greatly overstated the case: “THE IOWA SEASHORE Blue-ribbon science panel predicts continued global warming and rising oceans,” “Winner & Losers, Nov. 6, 1995,” Time magazine, Nov. 6, 1995.
Of course, you could say it was hyperbole in service of humor, but they said it.


So there was a very public debate about climate change extending over decades. So much for the talking point about there having never been a debate. Based on the overwhelming consensus, no doubt about the winner of the debate.

Bob Rogers

I was 7 years old in 1974. I remember the TIME article, cover or not. It was scary. Oddly, I remember it being discussed in Sunday school. Weird the meaningless things we remember

Latitude says:
“Makes you wonder…..
Who is stupid enough to believe a fraction of a degree predicts any trend in the first place…..”
Whether we have observed a fraction of a degree warming, or of cooling, ignores the climate Null Hypothesis [which has never been falsified] :
Current climate parameters are exceedingly mild. Past global temperatures have easily surpassed current temperatures, both colder and warmer. The Null Hypothesis will only be falsified if/when current temperatures and other parameters exceed past parameters. So far, that has not happened.
In the past, global temperatures have changed by literally tens of degrees on short, decadal time scales — global temperatures changed naturally, and when CO2 was much lower than it is now.
We have been very fortunate to have gone through a “Goldilocks” period of very stable global temperatures for the past century and a half. That will not continue indefinitely.
The take-away point is this: current global temperatures are unexceptional. They are compared on a tenth of a degree [or hundredth of a degree] y-axis — making very minor fluctuations look scary. That is dishonest, but it is the only way to stir up alarm and fear in the population.
Eventually, global temperatures will decline radically, as they have many times in the past. The planet may warm some more, but the odds strongly favor a recurrance of the stadial — the Ice Age — which has been in abeyance during the Holocene. And if the planet should warm, geological evidence shows that would be entirely beneficial for the biosphere. It is cold that is the killer.