What scientists were really saying about “global cooling” in the 1970s

I remember hearing it too, back in the 1970s: “We’re heading into another ice age.”

Today we hear: “Why should we believe the climate scientists when they predict global warming? Back in the 1970s, they predicted the Earth’s climate was going to get much colder.”

But was “global cooling” really the consensus back in the 70s? The RealClimate blog reports:

During the period we analyzed, climate science was very different from what you see today. There was far less integration among the various sub-disciplines that make up the enterprise. Remote sensing, integrated global data collection and modeling were all in their infancy. But our analysis nevertheless showed clear trends in the focus and conclusions the researchers were making. Between 1965 and 1979 we found (see table 1 for details):

  • 7 articles predicting cooling
  • 44 predicting warming
  • 20 that were neutral

In other words, during the 1970s, when some would have you believe scientists were predicting a coming ice age, they were doing no such thing. The dominant view, even then, was that increasing levels of greenhouse gases were likely to dominate any changes we might see in climate on human time scales.

This was also reported in USA Today: Study debunks ‘global cooling’ concern of ’70s.

Grace and Peace

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