We have known for a very long time that climate change was coming. The first person to identify the greenhouse effect was French physicist Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier in 1827. Then Svante Arrhenius used chemistry to calculate the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and earth’s surface temperature sixty years later. Therefore, we knew climate change was coming but we didn’t listen for a long time.
They Knew Climate Change Was Coming But They Welcomed It
America and Europe experienced a ‘little ice age’ from about 1300 to 1850. This may have been due to a variation in the Earth’s orbit and axial tilt, that self-corrected. Hence global warming seemed a welcome way to prevent a recurrence happening in those days.
A report published during the first week of August 2018 thinks we continued to underestimate the risk until recently. The paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests we “underestimated the power and sensitivity of natural systems”. The authors believe “we can avoid the hothouse scenario. But it’s going to take a fundamental re-adjustment of our relationship with the planet”.
Levers We Can Use to Influence Future Planetary Conditions
The authors of the report knew climate change was threatening for some time, but the world still would not listen. They now suggest a global approach. Because the risk is international, although we know of a few countries that are major contributors.
“So not only are we going to have to stop burning fossil fuels by the middle of this century. We are going to have to get very busy with planting trees, and protecting forests,” they say. “We also have to work out how to block the Sun’s rays, and develop machines to sequestrate carbon out of the air.”
They acknowledge this will require “a total re-orientation of human values, equity, behavior and technologies.” They want us all to become Stewards of The Earth.
Preview Image: Svante Arrhenius Sitting Third From Left