Common Climate Questions

Q: What did most climate scientists in the 1970s predict about future climate?

A: The vast majority of published climate science papers in the 1970s were related to the same concern that prevails today: warming due to the increase in heat-trapping gases. There were a few papers published at that time on the issue of particle pollution (mostly from coal plants which did not yet have scrubbers) blocking out some of the incoming sunlight and exerting a short-term cooling influence. Some media outlets picked up on this and sensationalized the notion of global cooling, contrary to the concerns of most climate scientists.

Because it has been a persistent myth that scientists warned of cooling in the 1970s, researchers examined this question and published their findings in 2008 in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. They concluded: “There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age. Indeed the possibility of anthropogenic [human-caused] warming dominated the peer-reviewed literature even then.”

There has been much false information spread on this subject by those who deny climate science. They even faked a Time magazine cover that has been used as “evidence” of this myth. The fake cover, claimed to be from 1977 (right), included a made up headline that falsely implied that global cooling was a serious concern at that time. The Time cover photo with its actual headline, “The Global Warming Survival Guide”, was published in 2006 (left).