Flashback 1958: Arctic Ice Sheet Will Envelope NYC, Chicago

Flashback 1958: Arctic Ice Sheet Will Envelope NYC, Chicago

11:21 AM 03/20/2015
Photo of Michael Bastasch

MICHAEL BASTASCH

Much like today, scientists in the 1950s were warning that warming temperatures will melt the polar ice cap, raise sea levels and flood major coastal cities. The difference is that scientists in the 1950s were warning this will lead to another ice age.

In 1958, Harper’s magazine ran a lengthy story on“The Coming Ice Age” that featured research by geophysicist Maurice Ewing and geologist-meteorologist William Donn who argued the world was “heading into another Ice Age.”

Ewing and Dunn warned that “an Ice Age will result from a slow warming and rising of the ocean that is now taking place.” The two scientists argued that major American and European coastal cities would be submerged as the Atlantic Ocean rises. But that’s not all, Arctic ice melt “will cause great snows to fall in the north — perennial unmelting snows which the world has not seen since the last Ice Age thousands of years ago.”

Glaciers would be able to grow again and advance southward, following the routes carved out in previous ice ages — meaning huge swaths of Europe and North America will once again be covered by a permanent ice sheet that will eventually reach New York City and Chicago.

“It would, of course, take many centuries for that wall of ice to reach New York and Chicago, London and Paris,” Harper’s writer Betty Friedan wrote.. “But its coming is an inevitable consequence of the cycle which Ewing and Donn believe is now taking place.”

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