Climate Change: How Long Have We Known?
Climate change has been nearly continuously in the press over the past few years, and is likely to remain in the headlines for the years to come. But it hasn’t always been that way.
The theory behind the global warming causing climate change first started to hit the press in the 1960’s. Using Google’s news search tool, you can actually look for the stories that are published online by date yourself. Here are some highlights:
The Virgin Island Daily News – Feb 18th 1970
In a small section on page 7 titled “Other Views” we have a brief mention of global warming. It states that scientists are warning that pollution could alter the earth’s climate. However it claims that scientists are split, half believing it will cause a global warming effect, and half believing it will lead to a new ice age. Theories being that gasses would either reflect the suns radiation causing cooling, or trap it causing warming.
So until the scientists come up with new ideas, we can look forward to living in a global hothouse or freezing to death. In the meantime, we had all better get busy and do something effective about pollution.
The Blade – June 12th 1979
This article reports that Carbon Dioxide levels are rising in the atmosphere, and that it could lead to a global warming trend. It already mentions the “green house effect” and the fear that climate change could melt the polar ice caps. It claims Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere were 335 ppm in 1978 and predicts that levels could reach 600 ppm between 2025 and 2075. That, they predicted, would cause 2.7 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit of warming (that’s 1.5 to 3 degrees C). CO2 levels are now thought to be 385 ppm
Interestingly however, they don’t seem that worried about the polar ice caps.
But it would take perhaps 1,000 years of unusually warm climate to cause substantial melting of the polar ice caps
However a New York Times article from the same year reports that climatologists were warning that newborns could live to a time when the north pole will have melted due to climate change.
New York Times – October 19th 1981
A whole article, with the title “EVIDENCE IS FOUND OF WARMING TREND”. Research showed evidence for the first time that “carbon dioxide pollution is causing a potentially dangerous warming of the earth’s climate”. This story was covered in most newspapers.
The Courier – July 20 1986
“Global Warming trend could cost billions”. The title of an article which is more informative and precise than most of the crap you can read in nowadays press, showing concerns of food and water shortages and crop degradation, as well as predicting that climate change could cost “as much as $200 billion to adjust to irrigation patterns alone”.
So it seems that we have not only known of the cause and effects of climate change for nearly 30 years, we have done nothing about it. Most of these predictions have been fairly accurate, so surely appropriate action could easily have been decided upon and taken. Apparently not. In-fact, despite 30 years of proof and research, we are still arguing about whether it exists. With statistics like that, climate change seems inevitable, unless we get smart and get smart now.
Climate Change: How Long Have We Known? Part 2
BBC News has just posted an interesting article detailing a “History Of Climate Change” which covers some more milestones in the climate change story.
In 1824 a French physicist is the first person to discover the “greenhouse effect” that is so publicly spoken of today.
It wasn’t until 1896 when a Swedish chemist concluded that the coal burning of the industrial age would contribute to the greenhouse effect, predicting his research would be useful for future generations. His predictions of temperature increase in-line with CO2 emissions were not far off those of today’s climate models.
In 1938 the first direct evidence of global warming was recorded, as temperatures we found to have increased over the previous century in line with CO2 emissions. At the time it was widely dismissed that emissions caused the warming.
In the 1950’s the US developed new world leading equipment in the field and began researching the climate. Researches not only concluded that CO2 concentrations were rising, but that a doubling of CO2 concentrations would increase temperatures by 3-4 degrees Centigrade. They also discovered that seawater would not absorb the additional CO2 in the atmosphere as many had predicted. US oceanographer Roger Revelle then claims “Human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment…”
Little is done until the 1970’s when the UN hosts its first Environment conference, but climate change doesn’t appear on the agenda. Finally in 1975 a US scientist thrusts the term “global warming” into the public domain, making it the title of his scientific paper. A further 13 years latter in 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is formed to collate evidence and establish the threat of climate change. 2 years later the IPCC publish their first report, concluding that global warming is happening, and that it is a direct result of man made fossil fuel emissions.
2009 and over 100 years after the discovery that increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere causes our climate to warm, still we have done nothing to stop it. Still people argue whether or not it actually exists. Still politicians wont except that we have built the world on unsustainable infrastructure that will soon be over-populated, with dwindling resources and a dangerous warming climate.