CO2 Now

The Need to Know CO2
What We Knew When PDF Print E-mail

 

1959: Scientific American

In December 2008, Scientific American reprinted the following climate change article from its July 1959 issue: "A current theory postulates that carbon dioxide regulates the temperature of the earth. This raises an interesting question: How do Man's activities influence the climate of the future?"

Scientific American  |  Carbon Dioxide and Climate

 

1970: Environmental Quality: The First Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality
Transmitted to the US Congress; August 10, 1970

Extract from the President's Message, by President Richard Nixon:  "The basic causes of our environmental troubles are complex and deeply imbedded.  They include: our past tendency to emphasize quantitative growth at the expense of qualitative growth; the failure of our economy to provide full accounting for the social costs of environmental pollution; the failure to take environmental factors into account as a normal and necessary part of our planning and decision-making; the inadequacy of our institutions for dealing with problems that cut across traditional political boundaries; our dependence on conveniences, without regard for their impact on the environment; and more fundamentally, our failure to perceive the environment as a totality and to understand and to recognize the fundamental interdependence of all its parts, including man himself. 

It should be obvious that we cannot correct such deep-rooted causes overnight.  Nor can we simply legislate a way.  We need new knowledge, new perceptions, new attitudes -- and these must extend to all levels of government and throughout the private sector as well: to industry; to the professions; to each individual citizen in his job and in his home.  We must seek nothing less than a basic reform in the way our society looks at problems and makes decisions." (p. vii)

Extract from the report:

"Carbon Dioxide -- An Earth Warmer?

The atmosphere's energy, which determines weather and climate, is derived primarily from visible solar radiation absorbed by the earth's surface and atmosphere.  The absorption of that energy tends to raise the temperature at the surface.   The earth's surface maintains its thermal balance  (keeps from overheating) by radiating energy back to space at longer wavelenghts.  Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere absorbs incoming visible radiation, but in amounts too small to have any appreciable effect on the radiation reaching the lower atmsophere and the earth's surface.  However, carbon dioxide is virtually opaque to some long-wave radiation that is emitted by the earth's surface.  Thus, when carbon dioxide concentrations increase, heat loss through radiation from the surface is reduced--the "greenhouse" effect." (p. 95)

UCSB  |  Message to the Congress Transmitting the First Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality, August 10, 1970
ERIC  |  The First Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality

ERIC  |  (pdf) Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution of the Committee on Public Works, 91st Congress, Second Session, August 11, 1970

 

1993: State of the World

"Even a casual survey of the planet's physical condition shows the costs of burning fossil fuels are rising on many fronts. At some point, the economic costs of deteriorating forests, dying lakes, damaged crops, respiratory illnesses, increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, and other destructive effects of fossil fuel use become unacceptably high. Basic economics argues for a switch to solar energy. Rather than wondering if we can afford to respond to these threats, policymakers should consider the costs of not responding. If the eventual consequence of failing to respond is catastrophe, the answer is obvious"

WorldWatch Institute  |  State of the World 1993 (p. 20) 

 

 
CO2 Metric for Progress on Global Warming PDF Print E-mail

 

Carbon dioxide is at the heart of the global warming problem.  

When we want to know whether humanity is collectively doing enough to solve global warming, just look to the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  No other indicator is as complete, current and direct.    No other metric tells us so much.  

This is how it works...   

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