How Was Your Summer?

Or, hopefully, how is your summer (still) going? I trust it has been enjoyable, at least from time to time. Here in South Carolina, it has been HOT! But along with the heat were afternoons of rain and thunderstorms. That meant you either did outdoor activities first thing in the morning, or not at all.

You have likely experienced a hot summer as well if you live in the western part of the USA. Likewise, Europe has experienced excessive temperatures. But I am not going to be talking about Global Warming. I don’t disagree with the data that says we are in a warming period. I won’t even say that it won’t get worse. I want to go back to the late 1970’s and relive the fear of a new Global Ice Age.

I would not be surprised if younger readers are blinking their eyes and scratching their heads. Here’s the story. The recorded temperatures from 1940 to 1970 showed an average decline in temperatures as seen to the right. Never mind that the temperatures were rising from 1890 to 1940. So, by the mid-70’s, the expectation of an imminent global ice age was being publicized

This was not because the preponderance of scientific studies and papers agreed with the global freeze postulation. Rather, it was a good way to sell magazines.

Look at these cover pages:

Time Magazine Covers

I counted five covers from Time alone on Google images. Even as late as 2004, Discover ran an article entitled “A New Ice Age, Could Global Warming Trigger a Big Freeze?

By Skeptical Science; Based on data published in Peterson, Thomas C., William M. Connolley, and John Fleck. “The myth of the 1970s global cooling scientific consensus.” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 89.9 (2008): 1325-1337. –, CC BY 3.0,

So, what happened? The global freeze proponents believed that the use of products that put microscopic particles into the air would reduce the sun’s energy reaching earth. Think of it as a very fine haze.

The global warming people looked at carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and expected a green house effect to warm the planet. And the current climate data indicates we are well on our way to higher and higher temperatures.

So, how can any scientist in 2004 say we are heading for a mini ice age? From the May 22, 2004 edition of Discover Magazine, this article by Brad Lemley says,

“Such frigid settings were commonplace during a period dating roughly from 1300 to 1850 because much of North America and Europe was in the throes of a little ice age. And now there is mounting evidence that the chill could return. A growing number of scientists—including many here at Curry’s base of operations, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod in Massachusetts—believes conditions are ripe for another prolonged cool-down, or small ice age.

“While no one is predicting a brutal ice sheet like the one that covered the Northern Hemisphere with glaciers about 12,000 years ago, the next cooling trend
could drop average temperatures 5 degrees Fahrenheit over much of the United States and 10 degrees in the Northeast, northern Europe, and northern Asia.
“It could happen in 10 years,” says Terrence Joyce, who chairs the Woods Hole Physical Oceanography Department. “Once it does, it can take hundreds of
years to reverse.” Recall the coldest winters in the Northeast, like those of 1936 and 1978, and then imagine recurring winters that are even colder, and you’ll have an idea of what this would be like” [link]

Compare a drop of 5 – 10 degrees Fahrenheit to the 1.8 degree Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) rise shown in the graph to the left. I remember the winters in Wisconsin and Illinois in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s including one snow storm that literally covered over the top of cars on the streets. It took three days to open the major roads. I also remember waiting for the school bus when the wind chill was minus 40. Yes, layering helped a lot. But trust me, I moved to South Carolina so I wouldn’t have to encounter those conditions again.

The researchers who wrote the 2004 article were basing their prediction on the Arctic ice melt that would inhibit the flow of warm gulf waters and therefore allow North America and Europe to cool down. What they predict will happen in the Atlantic ocean would also occur in the Pacific.

So why am I even mentioning this stuff? Truly I am NOT trying to spark fear in your hearts. Could what they predict happen? Yes, it could, but they could also be completely wrong like the 1970’s scare was. That scare was not based on global warming leading to cooling. But it got a lot of press and sold a lot of magazines.

This is why I mention this stuff. Simply to show you that what you see and hear on a daily basis is primarily to get you worried and hooked. If you stay tuned, the advertising dollars go up. Why is there so much bad news seen today? Simply because the news moguls have learned that fear, worry and disgust keep viewers, readers and listeners engaged. Think about it. When a disaster happens, how many hours of the same video clips do you watch?

Bottom line: there is plenty to worry about in your day to day lives. Don’t worry about things that are completely beyond your control. Having said that, I conserve electricity and drive a fuel efficient vehicle to do my part. But I don’t stay up at night wondering if I will survive the heat of tomorrow. I will learn to adapt.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew 6:34

Do you remember the global freeze scare? Do you have a weather story you would like to share? I would love to read your comments.