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Fact Brief - Was an Ice Age predicted in the 1970s?

Posted on 6 April 2024 by SkS-Team

FactBriefSkeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by Sue Bin Park in collaboration with members from our Skeptical Science team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline.

Was an Ice Age predicted in the 1970s?

no Most peer-reviewed climate science papers published from 1965-1979 predicted global warming, not cooling.

While many popular media outlets claimed the approach of an ice age, a 2008 review of 1960s-70s climate science papers found that research stated otherwise. 62% predicted warming, 10% predicted cooling, and 28% did not take a stance.

There had been some notably cold Northern Hemisphere winters through this time. Scientists now understand that a leading cause of the cold conditions was aerosol smog pollution. Aerosols block sunshine, reducing the amount of energy reaching Earth's surface. They are also a serious health hazard. When they were reduced through regulation, global temperatures resumed their climb, from the 1970s onwards.

This decline is driven by increasing global temperatures from human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. While a 2017 study suggested that between 30% and 50% of the observed melting is due to natural causes, one of its authors stated that “anthropogenic forcing is still dominant,” whereas “natural variability...helped accelerate this melting.”

Today, 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is real and largely caused by human carbon dioxide emissions.

Go to full rebuttal on Skeptical Science or to the fact brief on Gigafact

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


American Meteorological Society The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus

RealClimate Four surface-station based estimates of global warming since 1880

IOP Science Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature

About fact briefs published on Gigafact

Fact briefs are short, credibly sourced summaries that offer “yes/no” answers in response to claims found online. They rely on publicly available, often primary source data and documents. Fact briefs are created by contributors to Gigafact — a nonprofit project looking to expand participation in fact-checking and protect the democratic process. See all of our published fact briefs here.

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