Digitally altered image circulated as 1977 Time magazine cover predicting impending ice age

By: Rahul Adhikari
January 30 2024

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Digitally altered image circulated as 1977 Time magazine cover predicting impending ice age

Social media posts claim that Time published a cover on an impending ice age in 1977. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

A Time magazine cover from April 2007, featuring the title 'The Global Warming Survival Guide', was edited to create the fabricated image.

Claim ID 7f6f8a2f

What is the claim?

A post circulating on social media claims that Time magazine published a cover in 1977 warning of an impending ice age, implying that global warming is not a genuine concern. This viral post appears to show a screenshot of a news article with two Time magazine covers side by side. On the left, the alleged 1977 cover displays a penguin with the title “How to Survive the Coming Ice Age” and a subheading, “51 Things You Can Do to Make a Difference.” Conversely, the 2006 cover on the right, dated April 3, shows a polar bear with the headline “Be Worried. Be Very Worried.”

The screenshot's text states, “In Figure 1 we see a Time cover from April 8, 1977, that announces an article on how to survive a coming Ice Age. Contrast this with the April 3, 2006, cover that advises us to be very worried about a hypothesized global warming tipping point.” The post, shared in a Facebook group named “Climate Con,” accumulated 40 likes and 17 shares. Archived versions can be accessed here and here.


Screenshot of the post on Facebook. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, Time magazine never published the cover warning of an ice age; it is a fabrication.

What did we find?

The “Be Worried. Be Very Worried” cover was indeed published on April 3, 2006, as a special report on global warming. The subheading states, “Climate change isn't some vague future problem - it's already damaging the planet at an alarming pace. Here's how it affects you, your kids, and their kids as well.”

We then checked Time magazine's 1977 archives and found no edition matching the viral cover. The Facebook post claims the 1977 cover was released on April 8, but no such edition exists. The actual covers from April 4, April 11, April 18, and April 25 of 1977 differ significantly from the one seen in the viral image circulating on social media.

Further investigation, including a reverse image search of the 1977 cover, reveals that the fake cover was created by editing a 2007 Time magazine cover. The April 9, 2007, edition featured a penguin with the title “The Global Warming Survival Guide,” but its headline was altered to “How to Survive the Coming Ice Age” in the fake version. While the subheading “51 Things You Can Do to Make a Difference” remained, other elements were partially edited.

We compared the viral cover and the original editions and have indicated the similarities.

Comparison between the fake cover and the original cover. (Source: Facebook/Time magazine)

Time magazine also addressed this in a June 6, 2013, article titled “Sorry, a TIME Magazine Cover Did Not Predict a Coming Ice Age,” written by former international editor Bryan Walsh, who said, “The cover on the right is real…The one on the left is very much not. It’s a doctored version of this cover, from 2007.”

Is there an impending ice age?

According to a NASA report, there is no impending ice age or mini ice age. Periodically, the Sun enters phases of reduced activity known as "Grand Solar Minimums," characterized by fewer sunspots and lower energy output. Research indicates that such a minimum might temporarily cool the Earth by up to 0.3 degrees Celsius, but it would only marginally mitigate, not reverse, human-induced global warming. Despite a slight decrease in energy reaching the Earth, just three years of current carbon dioxide concentration growth would make up for it.

The American Meteorological Society, in its September 2008 report “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus,” clarifies that the prevalent idea of a consensus on global cooling or an impending ice age in the 1970s is false, stemming from a misinterpretation of the scientific literature focused on greenhouse warming.

Reports on the ‘ice age’ in the 1970s

An examination of Time's archives from 1970 to 1980 revealed no cover story on an impending ice age. However, in 1974, Time did publish an article titled “Another Ice Age,” discussing indications of global cooling. The New York Times and other media outlets, including the CIA, also reported on global cooling in the 1970s.

In their June 2013 article, Time acknowledged these reports but emphasized that the dominant scientific opinion of the time, albeit less developed than today's understanding of global warming, did not support the idea of an impending ice age.

The verdict

The 1977 Time magazine cover in question is a fabrication, and the magazine has confirmed that it never published such a cover. Therefore, we have marked this image as fake.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before