SCIENCE AND ITS PROBLEMS IF THE ICE AGE CAME AGAIN. 13 Aug 1936. 120 years of ice age predictions.

SCIENCE AND ITS PROBLEM — No.1 (1936, August 13). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 35. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from

By Professor J. B . S. Haldane .
Can you imagine rowing across the Atlantic? That was done, when the weather was warmer.
Can you imagine — London a lost city under ice, and glaciers smudging out the sky-scrapers
of New York?
That may happen. Of course it is a matter of thousands of years, but well within the vision of scientists.
I am going to begin with the one scientific problem which interests every man every day, the problem of the weather. We can forecast it for a day or two ahead, but that is all. We cannot tell a week ahead whether it is going to rain on a holiday. Above all we can say almost nothing about the weather 20 years or 2000 years ahead.
Yet the whole future of our country depends on the weather. In the past there have been big
changes in the weather, lasting over centuries, and moulding human history. Between A.D. 450 and 1000 the weather was much warmer and drier than it is now.
During that time the Northmen constantly invaded England. The North Sea was genterally
calm, and their voyages were easy.
What is more, they rowed across the North Atlantic to Greenland, which really was green In those days, and even to Canada.
If we get a few centuries of really good weather in the future, Canada will become one of the
world’s greatest nations, with a population of hundreds of millions, and wheat fields stretching up to the Arctic Circle.
There will be no more icebergs in the North Atlantic, and all through the war ships will use the great ports which will be built round Hudson Bay.
But the weather may equally well get worse. Two thousand years ago England was so wet that the vallys were full of great Swamps, and the chalk islands of Salisbury Plain were the most habitable parts of the country.
In the past such changes of weather meant the end of great civilisations. Some scientists believe that the highest forms of civilisation have only been able to flourish where the weather
was not too extreme, as regards heat or cold, moisture or drought, and where it was changeable enough to be stimulating.
So, if an ice age begins next year, it will be several thousand years before England is covered with ice. The first signs would probably be a series of very snowy winters and cloudy summers.
More in the article.