Global Cooling in 1936: The Ice Age Is Coming!
Image From Modern Mechanix

I always read Popular Science as a kid. The gadgets, the tools, the notes on military hardware that was going to help future G.I. Joes lay waste to whoever was destined to replace the godless commie Russians as public enemy number one. It was tailor-made for my seven-year-old mind. Of course, they also had a recurring feature of what they had been doing 25, 50, 75 years in the past and strangely, the issues in this article may resurface to the spotlight soon: an experiment to demonstrate the eminent return of the ice age.

Yes, that’s right, as we’ve sweated through some of the hottest times in recorded human history and then noticed some recent cooling, Popular Science was busily calculating ways in 1936 that the “glacial age” would return, laying waste to New York, Chicago, London, and all of the world’s major “northern cities.” The author–Gaylord Johnson, snicker–sought to prove this with rubber balls, knitting needles, and paraffin wax.

The basic hypothesis is that the Earth’s axis is at an angle: true, it’s 23 degrees–and that it moves–also true, it varies between 22 and 24 degrees. The axis does not, however, wander as far off as thirty-five degrees, which I hope was arbitrarily made up for the article instead of actually based on any sort of science. The reason such an extreme angle is at all plausible, though, is because of something called “Drayson’s theory”–the thought that the earth’s axis rises and falls over time, and that that was behind our last ice age.

I think it’s safe to say that we don’t have to worry about another ice age anytime soon, what with all the global warming around here. It is interesting to notice that Drayson doesn’t think one’s coming soon either, as his projections put it at 18,000 BC. However, it is so strikingly odd to look back a mere 70 years and see that climate change as we know it was only a glimmer in the eye of the public consciousness, waiting to surface.

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