Ice age predictions of the 1980s and global warming

Ask Tom Why

Dear Tom,
In the 1980s there was talk about a coming ice age. Now the talk is about global warming. What happened to cause the change?

James Leon
Dear James,
A series of especially harsh winters and cool summers from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s prompted speculation that a new ice age was imminent. Locally, the media portrayed images of glaciers pushing south along Michigan Avenue in the not-too-distant future. “Ice-age speculation” peaked in the mid 1980s, after which the focus of discussion gradually shifted to global warming, prompted by the occurrence of warming temperatures practically worldwide. The ice-age scenario is still accepted by some, but the great majority of atmospheric scientists believe the issue now is about global warming: how rapidly it is occurring and how to deal with it.

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