Climate: a viral article from 110 years ago

Climate : a viral article from 110 years ago

An article that appeared exactly 110 years ago went viral on the networks this month. Not only was he talking about future global warming… he wasn't even the first to talk about it.

Climate: a viral article from 110 years ago

Published on August 14, 1912 in a New Zealand daily newspaper, the short article was entitled “ Coal consumption affects the climate ”. It chronicled the work of Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius, now considered the first scientist to quantify how too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could cause global temperatures to rise.

But in this series of shares of an article now 110 years old, one detail has been forgotten: as the scientific article by Arrhenius was already 16 years old in 1912, this New Zealand newspaper hadn't been the first to spot it. According to historian Jeff Nichols, the source of the New Zealand article is actually an article in the popular journal Popular Mechanics appeared in April 1912, and this historian himself found in the American press other examples dating back to the years 1890 1900.

As for Arrhenius, he was not a pioneer on the whole line. He followed in the footsteps of French physicist Joseph Fourier who, in 1824, theorized that seemingly minor changes in the composition of the atmosphere could affect climate. Following him, the American Eunice Foote in 1856 and the Briton John Tyndall in 1859 would demonstrate that different gases present in the atmosphere absorbed heat from the sun differently, to the point where a minimal increase in some of between them could cause global warming. It would take until the 1930s before British engineer Guy Callendar, analyzing meteorological data from the past decades around the world, became the first to identify a general trend of rising temperatures.

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