Several months ago, I downplayed the observation that alarmism over putative global cooling was a generational precursor to the alarmism over global warming we’re experiencing now. The phrases “global cooling” and “global warming” were both scantily used–with similar frequency–from the 1950s through the 1970s. Then “global warming” began rocketing upward in the 1980s.
But I think my characterization was unfair.
To preface, I’m ignorant of the relevant history. My knowledge of it extends no further than what is presented here.
The problem was in the choice of phrase. The apocalyptic concerns about a global cold snap were more commonly referred to as the “new ice age” than as “global cooling”. And why not? An ice age sounds a lot more catastrophic than global cooling. The latter sounds relaxing–chill, if you will. Parenthetically, greens should rebrand “global warming” into something scarier, like “the great conflagration”. Now that’s something to break capitalism for!
From Google’s Ngram viewer:
Concerns about a “new ice age” did garner a lot more attention in the 50s, 60s, and 70s than concerns about “global warming” did. Climate concerns are a much bigger deal today than they ever were then, though: