Vol 3 No 2 Suppl. 1 (2019)
Special Issue Article

Taking the Earth's Temperature: 200 years of research has established why the Earth is as warm as it is and how burning fossil fuels is making it warmer

Rudy Michael Baum
Science writer/editor, 2738 SW Patton Ct, Portland, OR 97201, US
Bio

Published 2019-11-22

Keywords

  • Greenhouse gases, global warming, climate change, fossil fuels, carbon dioxide

How to Cite

Baum, R. M. (2019). Taking the Earth’s Temperature: 200 years of research has established why the Earth is as warm as it is and how burning fossil fuels is making it warmer. Substantia, 3(2), 27 - 42. https://doi.org/10.13128/Substantia-264

Abstract

Because of the threat of global warming due to the build-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, energy use is the central factor in creating a sustainable future. Anthropogenic climate change is real, but climate change deniers insist that carbon pollution is not a threat and that the science behind climate change is flimsy at best and a sham at worst. In fact, efforts to understand Earth’s climate and why the planet’s temperature is what it is date back to the early 19th century, and I review that history in this paper. Earth’s atmosphere was first likened to a greenhouse in the 1820s; CO2 was first shown to be a greenhouse gas in the 1860s; the idea that burning fossil fuels could change the Earth’s temperature was proposed in 1896; the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was first shown to be inexorably rising in the 1950s. The science of climate change has a long and distinguished pedigree.