Roy Spencer Uses A Fake TIME Magazine Cover

Dr. Roy Spencer

Since I’ve started reading Dr. Roy Spencer’s blog my opinion of him is in a downward trend. That I already didn’t have a high opinion of Spencer showed when I wrote a response to his blog post “A Turning Point for the IPCC…and Humanity?“.

In that particular blog post he mangled the latest IPCC report and the science that it is based on. Most of what he said was simply not an accurate representation of what IPCC does and the science used for the latest report. I expected better from someone who does climate research.

His latest blog post “The Danger of Hanging Your Hat on No Future Warming” shows that not only does he mangle science subjects, but that he also doesn’t do basic fact checking for his posts (archived here):

It’s fascinating to me that the predictions we see in the media are almost bimodal…either catastrophic warming, or another ice age. Of course, the news cycle enjoys predictions of catastrophe (see the Time magazine covers, above).

But sometimes it seems like we global warming moderates are getting drowned out by the extremists.

The picture he’s referring to and which was included at the start of his blog post is the following:

Time magazine fake cover

But the thing is that the “How To Survive The Coming Ice Age” cover is a known fake. It’s a doctored version of this TIME Magazine cover from April 9, 2007:


When this image got some traction among climate science deniers this was quickly shown to be a fake. If you follow a few of the big names on social media you would have noticed this. It was not a good day for the disinformers as they were caught using a fake cover to make their argument.

You can find this out if you spend just 5 seconds on Google with a search for this cover. Not only that, this was pointed out by two people in the comment section of Spencer’s blog. But so far he hasn’t released a correction. Although this is the least that’s bothering me about Spencer’s blog post.

For one it is irrelevant what the media says on climate science. They can and do get science reporting wrong, or distort scientific findings. Scientists know that this happens and it’s one of their biggest pet peeves.

What you need to look at is the scientific literature and what it predicted in the 1970s. And lo and behold if you do that you see that the majority predicted global warming:

1970s papers

This whole argument also ignores why some scientists were predicting global cooling. One of the more known predictions was Rasool and Schneider (1971) which stated:

“An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5°K.”

Their global cooling projection was based on a quadrupling of atmospheric aerosol concentrations. Which wasn’t an unrealistic projection if the trends of for example sulfur dioxide emissions (SO2) continued to accelerate at the same rate.

Due to the environmental problems these emissions were causing a number of countries implemented sulfur dioxide limits through clean air acts. This stopped the rapid increase of aerosols and as a result emissions started to drop in the late 1970s:

SO2 emissions

That’s why those global cooling predictions didn’t pan out. We acted to reduce emissions of these pollutants and that changed how aerosols influence our climate system.

Even if media and peer-reviewed articles mostly talked about a pending ice age it is not relevant to current climate science. What matters is why these predictions were made, what happened after these predictions were made, and what we learned since those predictions. If you ask those questions a vastly different picture emerges than the one Dr. Spencer presented.

He should know all this as what I just said is well known among climate researcher. Yet Spencer ignored all that and chose to use a fake TIME Magezine cover for his argument. Things like this is why I don’t hold him in high regard.

Collin Maessen is the founder and editor of Real Skeptic and a proponent of scientific skepticism. For his content he uses the most up to date and best research as possible. Where necessary consulting or collaborating with scientists.