Harding’s brief history of global warming enlightenment

Posted on Wednesday, January 10th, 2007 at 9:18 am by JTE

Stephen’s got an article in The Guardian tracing the basic–and surprisingly long–history of figuring out climate change.

The long road to enlightenment

Climate change may be a hot topic in 2007, but the debate has been going on for 200 years. Stephan Harding looks back at a life-or-death struggle for understanding

Monday January 8, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Our understanding of climate change began with intense debates amongst 19th century scientists about whether northern Europe had been covered by ice thousands of years ago. In the 1820s Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier discovered that “greenhouse gasses” trap heat radiated from the Earth’s surface after it has absorbed energy from the sun. In 1859 John Tyndall suggested that ice ages were caused by a decrease in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In 1896 Svente Arrhenius showed that doubling the carbon dioxide content of the air would gradually raise global temperatures by 5-6C – a remarkably prescient result that was virtually ignored by scientists obsessed with explaining the ice ages.

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