Der Spiegel 1974 – New Ice Age Approaching. Odds Of A Warm Future “At Best 1 in 10,000”

An increased frequency in extreme weather events, a cooling North Atlantic, and growing Arctic sea ice were viewed as signs of climate change. The odds of a warmer climate in the future, according to one scientist, were “at best 1 in 10,000” (see below). That’s what Der Spiegel wrote in a 3700-word article back in 1974, warning the world of a coming ice age.

Hat tip:

In that issue Der Spiegel described a series of “weather extremes” occurring all over the world, claiming they were unmistakable signs of a climate change to cooling: deluges of rain in West Germany, severe thunderstorms that uprooted trees and blew off roofs in Berlin, the worst storm in 100 years devastating much of Lower Saxony, hurricane Agnes inflicting 3 billion dollars in damage, floods in Japan and Peru, temperatures in Argentina, India and South Africa dropping to their lowest levels in 300 years.

Back in 1974, in its introduction, Der Spiegel wrote:

Is a new ice age coming? Not right away, but the rainy summers in northern Europe, scientists fear, were only a part of the worldwide shift in weather — a preview of cooler and wetter times ahead.

It’s the same type of stuff we’re hearing today from the hysterical media. As Der Spiegel wrote, there were signs of climate change happening everywhere, and the world was seriously threatened. Scientists and experts were forecasting widespread global suffering and that billions could die. Today, thirty six years later, we see they were all wrong.

To provide an overview, look at the NAO 36 years ago (dark blue line is CET, orange/light blue is NAO). Back in 1974 one expert said the warming that followed had only a 1 in 10,000 chance of happening:

North Atlantic Oscillation index compared with CET winter record, 1860-2010 (CET graph source: ). Right now we really ought to be worried about cooling!

Today life is far better as a whole than what the doomsayers projected – thanks to technology, and to the warming that ensued – against the 10,000 to 1 odds. Strange how governments, media and activists want to return to those cold and miserable days that Der Spiegel complained about in 1974. Back then they were unanimous in saying warmer was better.

Der Spiegel wrote that the signs of cooling were detected in the North Atlantic:

At the latest since 1960, in the NorthAtlantic, meteorologists and climate scientists have believed that something is wrong with the vast system of the global weather: The earthly climate they believe is on the verge of changing over… First measurements showed a cooling of the North Atlantic. There the ocean temperature dropped over the last 20 years from 12°C on average to 11.5°C.

And the Arctic ice was growing at an alarming rate (ignoring man’s emissions of GHG, apparently):

Meanwhile the ice pack and glacier-covered area of the northern hemisphere grew by about 12%, at the Arctic Circle the coldest temperatures in 200 years were recorded.

In the 1974 report, Der Spiegel wrote about the warming period of 1890 – 1945. Recall how many of today’s scientists are claiming that the recent rise in temps over the last 50 years is “unprecedented”. Der Spiegel, however, documents that the same happened in the early part of the 20th century:

In the time between 1890 and 1945 scientists registered a general warming of the earth’s climate. The global annual average temperature rose during this time by about 0.7°C. — in polar regions the rise was even several degrees.

So much for unprecedented. Der Spiegel also wrote about the MWP of 800 years before (which some scientists today say never really existed).

Pessimism back then, like today, was the order of the day

Der Spiegel also wrote about the causes of climate change:

One thing climate scientists know for sure– already very small irritations, and for that reason often they are difficult to measure, can throw the global climate out of whack. A reduction of solar radiation of one percent or an increase in the world’s average cloudiness by just 4% is enough to trigger a new ‘big ice age’.

Der Spiegel then wrote that the consequences of this would be catastrophic, as agricultural output would decline, crops would be wiped out, etc.  US scientist Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin said:

If the current worsening of the climate continues, all of humanity will suffer — a billion people will starve.”

US weather researcher James McQuigg:

 The chances of a rash return to the optimum climate of the 1930s are at best  1 in 10,000″.

Der Spiegel wrote:

Some climate scientists even foresee the coming of a worldwide natural catastrophe. That’s what Austrian science author Peter Kaiser (‘The Return of the Glaciers’) believes. Canadian weather scientist Kenneth Hare advises governments of impacted countries to stockpile food.”

Überpessimist Paul Ehrlich warned of the consequences of global cooling:

Only a rapid aid program can prevent the catastrophe, fears Ehrlich. But the rich countries of the west, he complains, proved themselves to be failures during the crisis management of the 1973 oil crisis.

Back in the 1970s, it was common practice to seed clouds as a way of manipulating local climate. Scientists discussed methods that could be used to stop the cooling. But scientists warned of unintended consequences and complex feedback systems. US climatologists William W. Kellogg and Stephan H. Schneider described a climate model back then. Der Spiegel:

Such a climate model, so explain the two US climatologists William W. Kellogg and Stephan H. Schneider, must contain all ‘climatic feedback mechanisms’ of the global weather system — a completely unmanageable chaos of feedback loops and interactions.”

Amazing at how an unmanageable and complex system like climate in 1974 became and elegant and simple system that could be easily regulated today simply by varying the concentrations of a single trace gas. Later Schneider just could not be bothered by complexities.

Kellogg and Schneider also warned of interfering with the climate system.

Both scientists request that an international organisation for climate monitoring be set up as quickly as possible. In the view of the 2 experts, these weather monitors would have the job of maintaining the earth’s climate status quo.

It took a few years, but today we have the IPCC as a result.

28 responses to “Der Spiegel 1974 – New Ice Age Approaching. Odds Of A Warm Future “At Best 1 in 10,000””

  1. DirkH

    Thanks, Pierre, interesting. But a typo: “29th century”

  2. DaveH

    How arrogant we small insignificant humans are to think we can actually regulate something as complex and huge as the climate of the earth.

    1. Nagual2012

      Hi Dave! You are absolutely right. This ice age is a cyclical event and it’s time has come. Nothing we do can change that. It’s the time of the grand purging which happens at the end of each grand cycle. Much change ahead. Let’s enjoy it as best as we can! 🙂

  3. Bernd Felsche

    Bound to be a hit again next “summer”.

    Needs translation. The postman was right. 🙂

    1. Brian G Valentine

      Hübsche Mädchen!

    2. DirkH

      Funny enough, the text complains about wet summers, but also about winters without snow. 3 years later in 1978, there was the snow catastrophe in Northern Germany… Google translation:

      We needed before any big trip.
      How were brown on Borkum and Sylt.
      But today, the Browns are only whites.
      For here there is after all just frozen.
      Yes earlier there were also heat-free.
      The swimming pool was on in May.
      I sat up at night outside our house.
      Since we had sunburn
      and giant jellyfish on the beach, and ice
      and every policeman took off his jacket.

      When it gets right again
      Summer – a summer as he
      once was?
      Yes, with sunshine from June to
      and not so wet and so Siberian
      like last year.

      And what we had there for heat waves
      Sweater makers were received.
      Since there were up to 40 degrees in the shade
      We had to be careful with the water
      The sun popped in the face
      It was not necessary in the sauna.
      A sheep was happy then when it is shaved
      It was here, as in Africa
      Those who could made nudist
      But today’s buzz, today all the mosquitoes out loud in the choir

      When it gets right again
      Summer – a summer as he
      once was?
      Yes, with sunshine from June to
      and not so wet and so Siberian
      like last year.

      The winter was the flop of the century
      Only one thousand feet, there was snow
      My milkman says: This climate is not surprisingly,
      The culprit is because only the SPD.
      I find the going a bit far
      but soon is back vacation time
      and who among us does not think continuously tuned
      Nevertheless, I believe steadfastly
      that our weather is better
      only when, and this issue concerns us all!


  4. Senter

    Another “must read” today. Exploding the myth that Climategate was a hack.

  5. Luboš Motl

    1 in 10,000 had to make the people so certain! 😉 However, the believers became even more certain about the opposite proposition. Bill Nye in

    said at 6:35 that Richard Lindzen’s view is a minority view on a scale that is impressive – 1 in 100,000.

    Note that the ratio increased by a factor of ten.

    The alarmists who will threaten others with a new ice age in 2040 will clearly be certain at the level of 1 in 1 million. 🙂 This escalation of their certainty will be exponentially growing until they will have to pronounce so long and unfamiliar numerical words that their mouths will explode. 🙂

    1. Brian G Valentine

      The is the same Science Guy who believes it is possible to “stop” the Northern Gulf Stream with carbon dioxide in the air (i.e., eliminate the Coriolis force of the rotating Earth) and who considers Venusian heat in the atmosphere to have “nothing” to do with the formation of sulfuric acid from sulfur trioxide and water – the “whole thing was heated by carbon dioxide.”

  6. woodNfish

    Der Spiegal is crap magazine. If that is a sign of what typical German’s read then I question German intelligence. I don’t base it on this one article either. Drudge has links to their nonsense all the time and they are as bad as the failed Newsweek.

    1. DirkH

      “Der Spiegal is crap magazine. If that is a sign of what typical German’s read then I question German intelligence. ”

      Reading it is a widespread habit in Hamburg (where the Spiegel sits, and where i work ATM) – and yes, i question the intelligence of the locals on a regular base too. I’m feeling a bit like a fifth column behind the Iron curtain.

    2. Casper

      I suppose you don’t know The Focus. The moderators don’t allow any discussion on the AWG. This is a real s..t!

  7. Michael D Smith

    They’re probably still right, it just depends on the time frame. We’re still in a long term downtrend since the start of this interglacial, even with our 0.6°C current little warming blip, I don’t see any reason for the long term trend to change directions anytime soon. Eventually temps will fall off a cliff and we will enter a new glacial period. It seems we’re overdue already.

  8. Gator

    I lived in Stuttgart for 3 years and was living there in 1974, Der Spiegel is no better or worse than Time or Newsweek. That is not a compliment.

  9. Dr. Martin Hertzberg

    Plucking probabilities out of thin air seems to be a way of trying to establish credibility when one’s predictions are worthless. The IPCC did the same in it’s latest report. There seems to be no low in disingenuous behavior to which the global warmers of today, or the global coolers of yesterday, will not stoop. In some cases, they are the same bunch! Nevertheless, scientifically illiterate journalist simply propagate their nonsense because they fail to exercise due diligence or to look at the totality of the data available.

    1. Bernd Felsche

      Probability-plucking is how they arrive at the 90% certainty that anthroprogenic CO2 emissions will lead to catastrophic climate change unless curtailed.

      Of course, that certainty isn’t based on measurement errors and an analysis of the methods used to arrive at the conclusions. If they’d done that, they would have given up prognosticating by 1995.

      1. Brian G Valentine

        It appears very likely that the probabilities assigned in the Summaries for Policy Makers (that were not described in any quantitative sense in the IPCC Reports) were the product of the imagination of some graduate students (of sociology, and other things) who were conscripted to write the Summaries for Policy Makers.

        A small collection of people from the IPCC (and Pachauri) left the Summaries alone, despite the complaints from many others such as R Lindzen.

        Note that the projections of 50-100 years of GCM models used in the analysis don’t even agree with each other to within “90%” consistency.

        1. Brian G Valentine

          Check out the fascinating story of the apparently low potential high achiever, Ms Rutu Dave.

          Just goes to show, you don’t need much academic talent to make a high impact!

          (or leave a costly mess, depending on your point of view)

  10. Brian G Valentine

    Very little scientific ability is required to come up with this (probably) soon to be seen analysis:

    “Climate science correctly predicted water vapor feedback from carbon dioxide in the air, although the onset of the effect was far more rapid than originally projected. This resulted in the formation of clouds which had the effect of rapid cooling of the Earth from reflected sunlight, consequently, plunging the Earth into a deep freeze. Additional carbon dioxide in the air will only exacerbate the effect. Polar Bears will soon be dying off rapidly because they won’t be able to eat: seals will migrate much further south to open water, and Polar Bears won’t have any open water to catch fish and they will starve to death. A bit of “respite” (if you want to call it that) might be found in periodic heat waves that will soon be the norm everywhere in the summertime, which result from a warming stratosphere that cannot support high-altitude jet streams that move high pressure zones and prevent overheating. The average, however, will be only an irreversible advance toward an ice age and death unless carbon dioxide emissions are halted immediately, although it is probably too late.”

  11. Rhett

    Let see…these are current headlines: “Sweden in ‘coldest December in 100 years'”, “Weather chaos continues to hit UK airports”, “Heavy snow halts Europe’s Xmas travel”, “Is this the dawn of a new ice age?”, “Europe’s economy weathers the snow”, “Snow strands Christmas travelers in Europe”, ” ‘I can’t remember the weather being this bad in December,’ Belgian official says”,” Winter hits Paris airport with double whammy”, “More snow forecast, cold snap to dent German growth”, “Avalanche Danger Could Be Worst In Colo[rado]”, “History, Bermuda Weather: New Low for Year & December”, “Atlanta weather | First Christmas snow pile since 1800s”, “Europe snow leads to gold price spike”, “Helicopters Used To Warm Florida Crops”, “Snow sweeps back to London on Thursday as temperatures plummet” , etc, etc.

    Notice a common thread here? Much written about Europe being colder, there is.

    So wassup? That big yellow thing…you know…up in the sky. The SUN. That huge nuclear furnace that gives this “third rock” the unique ability to sustain life as we know it. It’s rather fickle. A one percent change in it’s output can alter our weather. Higher percentage changes can alter the weather permenantly. Higher still??? That sizzeling sound you’ll hear will be the earth incinerating. Lower still and the earth becomes the frozen “third rock”.

    It’s amazing how people can believe that a trace gas can alter the climate on such a vast planet yet push aside the concept that a star, a celestrial body, THOUSANDS of times larger than the Earth, has no effect [on the Earth]. Sheer Bollucks it is.

    Wake up! Yer being taken for a fool…and yer money. That’s the way it is, plain and simple.

  12. NTZ December Wrap-Up

    […] 17: Der Spiegel’s 1974 article on a coming ice age was examined. Read here. It’s a bit hilarious that the chances of warming back then were pegged at 1 in 10,000 […]

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