Monday, December 14, 2015

Global warming was forecast a century ago

I retweeted this 1912 press cutting yesterday morning and immediately wondered whether I had been taken in by a hoax.

But it does appear to be genuine. It comes from the Braidwood Dispatch Mining Journal, which was published in New South Wales.

So take it as a reminder of how well established the science behind fear about global warming is.

The agreement on the climate signed in Paris was immensely welcome, though I fear some governments will expend considerable energy on trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to over the coming years.

And the controversialists and backers of dirty industry will continue to doubt the science. But as Upton Sinclair said:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.


BruceK said...

Wikipedia has various articles about this, but apparently the first attempt to quantify the effect was made in 1896 by a Swedish scientist called Svante Arrhenius:

His colleague Nils Eckolm advocated controlling the emission of CO2 in 1901.

So it seems that the effect has been known about for quite a long time.

PeterMartin said...

Yes this is quite true. Arrhenius even obtained estimates of the potential warming which are quite close to current estimates.

However, the consensus of opinion afterwards was that the atmospheric effects were much less that Arrehenius calculated. This erroneous conclusion was based on experiments carried out at sea level. Once the effect of CO2 at much higher altitudes was included in the models as they started to be 50 years or so ago then it was clear that Arrenhius had been right after all!

Anonymous said...

The physics behind climate change is quite simple. For climate change not to be caused by atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide would require numerous disparate areas of physics simultaneously to be wrong (as well as much of geology, paleontology, hydrology, etc.) Much of the physics behind climate change was well established by the end of the 19th century, especially the long wave absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide. The reasons behind this spectrum, lying in quantum mechanics, would have to wait for the early 20th century, but that is rather immaterial. The spectrum was known, and the effect of carbon dioxide on the planetary temperature was clear. 19th century calculations showed that without atmospheric carbon dioxide, the earth would be a lifeless frozen snowball, which was clinching evidence.