A question for your your dead fandoms series: I've seen several references in 80's and 90's fandom to the idea that a new Ice Age was coming. Was that a thing?
At one point, yes, this weirdness was based on an eventually discredited scientific idea. In short, the idea was that, as light-diffusing particles enter the atmosphere and scatter light, the temperature of the earth might go down as less sunlight hits us. After some investigation, this idea was found to be mistaken, and then as now, the consensus among climatologists was on the planet heating up due the carbon-emitting activities of human civilization. I have my critiques of the peer review system, but this is a good example of it in action. An idea that temperatures might decrease was proposed, and after investigation, was found to not be true. It was never the global consensus, just one intriguing idea.
Of course, then as now, the press heard and predictably garbled this idea and hyped it up in the most sensationalistic way possible. It went from an intriguing hypothesis to “My God, this might be the source of a new Ice Age!” This is the same press that half-hears all kinds of reports about escalators and spits out headlines like “riding escalators may cause your death!”
So, I guess we’re talking about two phenomenon. One is a real idea in climate science that was found false, like so many other scientific ideas like the growing earth. The second is the way the hysteria around this idea seeped into the press.
The best example of this hysteria based on a half-heard idea is a great episode of In Search Of…, maybe the greatest paranormal show of all time, which investigated stuff like whether Dracula was a real person, the existence of Bigfoot, the Nazca Lines, UFOs, and other supernatural events. I was never a believer, but you have to admit, that show was great fun. It had a harrowing soundtrack full of buzzes and shrieks by Rinder & Lewis, a pair of geniuses forgotten now because they were practically a decade ahead of their time. Not to mention the gravelly voiced narration by Leonard Nimoy. If you haven’t seen In Search Of… before, see it now.