Fact check: 1922 news article reported Arctic conditions, didn’t say coastal cities threatened – USA TODAY

d4ad5f02 faa9 4e51 b897 f273f6c7dfed poster


The claim: 1922 news article about the Arctic said sea level rise would make coastal cities uninhabitable ‘within a few years’ 

Social media users are again spreading the false claim that a 100-year-old newspaper article reported that sea level rise was on the brink of destroying most coastal cities. 

The posts include text from a 1922 Associated Press article about a report from the U.S. consul in Bergen, Norway, to the Commerce Department on “climate conditions” in the Arctic. The article, which was published in the Washington Post, reported ocean warming, diminished ice cover and changes in wildlife populations.

However, in the social media posts, a line is added to the text that was not in the original article: “Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coast cities uninhabitable.”

A June 1 Facebook post that included the added text was shared 1,500 times in the last two months. 

Similar posts that include the fabricated text date back to at least 2015

Follow us on Facebook! Like our page to get updates throughout the day on our latest debunks

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook users who shared the claim for comment.

Original article does not include text about coastal cities

The Washington Post published the AP article on November 2, 1922.

USA TODAY reviewed an archived version of the article and found that it did not include the sentence about sea level rise and coastal cities. 

Fact check: Plymouth Rock has been moved, not an accurate gauge of sea level rise since 1620

The claim was previously debunked in a 2014 article on the Real Climate website.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a 1922 news article about the Arctic said sea level rise would make coastal cities uninhabitable “within a few years.” That prediction was not in the original article. 

Our fact-check sources:

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.