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In the 70s, they said there'd be an Ice Age

greenman3610, youtube

This is a video overview of the history of climate science, with the goal of debunking the idea that in the 1970s, climate scientists were predicting global cooling.

Video length: 10 minutes.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate science improves informed policy and decision-making
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Earth's Energy balance
About Teaching Principle 1
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Axial tilt of Earth governs incoming sunlight and seasonality
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Milankovitch/orbital cycle
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Sunlight warms the planet
About Teaching Principle 1
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Climate change vs. climate variability and patterns
About Teaching Principle 4
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Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
About Teaching Principle 4
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Evidence is that human impacts are playing an increasing role in climate change
About Teaching Principle 4
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Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
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Climate models are robust enough to be used for guiding decision and actions as response to climate change
About Teaching Principle 5
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Global warming is "very likely" caused by human greenhouse gas emission
About Teaching Principle 6
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Human activities have increased GHG levels and altered global climate patterns
About Teaching Principle 6
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Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
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2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
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2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Edit out the combative portions at beginning and end for a nice history of climate science regarding CO2 and warming.

About the Science

  • Although some people think that scientists predicted global cooling in the 1970s, that is not the case. There were a few predictions of cooling, but the majority of climate scientists in the 1970s predicted warming, not cooling.
  • This video offers a summary of climate science as it relates to CO2 emissions from human activities and their impact on climate. Begins with Svante Arrhenius in early 20th century, proceeds through the 1970s, when a minority of scientists focused on global cooling rather than global warming. From "Climate Crock of the Week," with focus on debunking falsehoods of climate change deniers.
  • While the tone of the video is not neutral, because the Climate Crock of the Week is meant to debunk climate change deniers and their rhetoric, the actual history of climate science is solid. Contains much of the "Bell Telephone Science Hour" television clip from 1958 but also refers to various other reports and studies through the 1970s.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This video highlights the difference between science in the popular cultural media, and actual scientific sources such as peer-reviewed journal articles, to make the case that climate skeptics are distorting history when they say scientific consensus in the 1970s was predicting global cooling. The video references the 2008 meta-analysis published by Peterson et al. in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. This study is compelling in that it found that only 7 of 71 studies predicted global cooling. I found this actual article in the library, and this video accurately represents the findings of that article.

About the Pedagogy

  • An overview of the history of climate science in a modern, almost edgy manner, using lots of video clips from film and television.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Educator may want to embed in another webpage because comment section of website may contain profanity.
  • May want to be projected to full screen mode to avoid students reading the comments and fishing around on Youtube site.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Consensus, the peer-reviewed research paper referenced in the video (free pdf)

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 4

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS2.D4:Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

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