While I don’t think Austrian economics has much to say about climate change as such (although it may help us find policy responses), I’ve always wondered to what extent people discussed global cooling in the 1970s. A friend of mine recently sent me a copy of a Newsweek article published more than 30 years ago on April 28, 1975. It’s an interesting read (click on the image).
Then, as now, there was more and more evidence of a clear trend: “The evidence in support of these predictions [of global cooling] has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.”
Among the evidence were severe weather patterns: “Last April, in the most devastating outbreaks of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars worth of damage in thirteen US states… To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather.”
All this indicated to some that the cooling was “a reversion to ‘the little ice age’ conditions that brought bitter winters in much of Europe and northern American between 1600 and 1900.” In other words, the risk of global cooling was becoming real…
The main difference between now and then is to be found in the causes of climate change. In the 1970s, no one seemed to think that human beings were responsible for global cooling. Thus “melting the artic ice cap by covering it with black soot” didn’t seem to be a good idea that political leaders would embrace. Nowadays more and more people think that humans are responsible for climate change. Therefore it is hard to find a politician who doesn’t want to do something about it, and this includes for instance banning “unnecessary” air travel, street lighting for some part of the night, and of course… cars.