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Ice age vs. greenhouse

The Story

A "little ice age" could begin in about 135 years, says Hurd C. Willett of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In this 1976 interview, he explains how his research on sunspot cycles brought him to this conclusion. He knows all about the theory of the "greenhouse effect," but he dismisses it. Why? He believes that long before atmospheric pollution could do anything serious to our planet's climate, "we will have polluted the atmosphere so far that we won't find it liveable." 

Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Jan. 29, 1976
Guest(s): Hurd C. Willett
Host: Russ Germain
Interviewer: Barbara Frum
Duration: 5:13

Did You know?

• As early as the late 1960s a few scientists were predicting an ice age was on its way, but the theory really peaked in the mid-1970s. In 1974, Time magazine ran a big story called "Another Ice Age?" And a 1975 Newsweek article warned that global cooling could have dire effects on the world's food supply.
• After a warming trend in the first part of the 20th century, overall world temperatures fell slightly between 1945 and the early 70s, making this ice age theory feasible.

• The ice age predictions of the 1970s are sometimes cited as a reason to mistrust global warming scientists. But according to a 2006 Newsweek article, "The point to remember... is that predictions of global cooling never approached the kind of widespread scientific consensus that supports the greenhouse effect today." The article also points to modern access to "vastly more data, incomparably faster computers and infinitely more sophisticated mathematical models."


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