There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age. Indeed, the possibility of anthropogenic warming dominated the peer-reviewed literature even then.
So begins an excellent review article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) by Thomas Peterson, William Connolley, and John Fleck. I had blogged on this when USA Today reported it but just realized I hadn’t blogged on the article itself.
The BAMS piece is easily the most thorough explanation and debunking of the issue I’ve seen in a scientific publication. Any progressive who is engaged in the climate change arena must be able to quickly and assuredly respond to this myth because it continues to live on thanks to the deniers’ and delayers’ clever strategy of ignoring the facts.
Heck even commenters on this blog keep defending the absurd line in Crichton’s novel State of Fear, when he has one of his fictional environmentalists say, “In the 1970′s all the climate scientists believed an ice age was coming.”
The BAMS piece examines the scientific origins of the myth, the popular media of the 1970s who got the story slightly wrong, the deniers/delayers who perpetuate the myth today, and, most importantly, what real scientists actually said in real peer-reviewed journals at the time. Their literature survey, the most comprehensive ever done on the subject, found:
The survey identified only 7 articles indicating cooling compared to 44 indicating warming. Those seven cooling articles garnered just 12% of the citations.