This week’s hard copy of Spiegel features the front cover story dubbed “Der verheizte Planet” – The heated planet – (see right image below). Thus, Spiegel is returning and keeping to its long tradition of promoting end-of world scenarios.
The following image sequence shows how the burning planet is just the latest and newest climate catastrophe designed to get an apocalypse-weary public to worry (and to buy its magazines). So far the reaction, however, has been a big yawn. The world is, after all, full with other real concerns.
Spiegel depictions over the last decades. 1986 and 2015 were even front cover images. 1974: cooling. 1986: sea level rise. Now, 2015: it’s a burning planet.
1974 – 10,000 to 1 chance at best of planet returning to warming
In 1974 Spiegel warned of global cooling, writing that climate change was leading to growing deserts and global cooling. The article even claimed that the North Atlantic had cooled 0.5°C – this after “The global annual mean temperature increased by 0.7°C from 1890 to 1945.” During that warming period, Spiegel writes: “Near the poles the temperature was even several degrees warmer.”
In the lengthy article Spiegel even quoted meteorological researcher James McQuigg who said the chances of the climate returning to warmer conditions such as those in the 1930s were “at best 10,000 to 1”.
Also in Spiegel’s 11 February, 1974 edition an article titled The Desert is growing shows a temperature chart that tells us the global temperature fell from 16.0°C to 15.7°C from 1945 to 1970. Someone needs to tell this to NASA GISS. Today aren’t they saying the global temperature is now 14.9°? Weird.
1986: “Die Klimakatastrophe”
Then, just 12 years later in 1986, scientists realized the ocean cycles had flipped to their warm phase and so suddenly global warming was back in the pipeline. Immediately Spiegel ran with its legendary August 11, 1986 edition bearing the front page headline “Die Klimakatastrophe“, which depicted the Cologne Cathedral half submerged in sea water.
Forest die-off scare, acid rain
Spiegel not only spread fear about climate catastrophes, but it was also instrumental in spreading the acid-rain/forest die-off scare in the 1980s. In 1981 the magazine featured a 3-part series depicting the German forests as being doomed and certain to be forever lost.
Back to some rationality
Over the past years, it seemed Spiegel had been backing off from global climate catastrophe meme. The flagship news magazine often featured balanced reports, foremost by science journalist Axel Bojanowski, who often questioned the claims of a climate catastrophe and challenged the shrillness of the IPCC’s warnings. NoTricksZone often wrote about these articles. It seemed the magazine was back to rational and critical journalism on the topic of climate change, and this fostered hopes of a balanced debate someday taking place in Germany.
2015 Spiegel returns to the apocalypse
But this was wishful thinking, it turns out, as this week on Monday Spiegel rolled out its latest apocalyptic issue with the front page bearing the headline: “The Heated Planet” and an image of a planet on fire. The article is a repackaging all the doom and gloom scenarios that rest of the German mainstream media had been crowing about for a good two decades now. Balance has disappeared, regrettably.
So why suddenly the change in tone? One can only speculate. Clear is that Spiegel circulation has been taking a massive beating over the recent years. For example in the 3rd quarter of 2014 alone Spiegel newsstand sales fell a whopping 12 percent, so reports the online horizont.net.
The European Institute for Climate and Energy presents the chart for subscriptions to Spiegel:
Veteran science journalist Ulli Kulke of flagship Die Welt writes at his blog:
Does the new editorial board at Spiegel want to scale the magazine back to being a warrior on behalf of the environment? Will the critical journalism over the past years that questioned the increasingly baseless end-of-world-mood now come to an end? The new frontpage cover “The Heated Planet“ appears to be going back to the good old days of the apocalypse…”
PS: So far none of the catastrophes have come to pass.