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Climate Change/Global Warming - History of Our Understanding of the Issues

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Our understanding of the issue of climate change/global warming began in earnest in the late 19th century when scientists started questioning the impacts of burning coal, as they understood it released CO2 into the atmosphere. With the massive increase in technology, commodification of natural resources, fossil fuel use, deforestation, and the other exploitative aspects of the industrial revolution, scientists began to observe overall warming patterns. Since this time, there has been an increase in the scientific ability to measure and quantify evidence that shows that climate change exists outside of natural fluctuations in the climate cycle.


(CC Image Courtesy of NASA via WikiMedia)

With military funding being one of the first main sources of scientific inquiry into the issue, the cold war era saw leaps in the gathering, and analysis of, climate evidence that has been building ever since. Scientists, by examining ancient pollen samples, fossils, ice cores, soil samples, ocean water samples, and more, have been building the profile of historical evidence that has shaped our understanding of climate change to this point.

In more recent years, high powered and advanced technological modeling has given us a view into possible future impacts of human induced climate change given current parameters. Without understanding of the issues historical roots, as well as our advanced scientific/technological capabilities, we are likely to continue political apathy in making real changes on the subject. We are certainly at a cross roads in determining the future of our tiny planet moving forward. Nearly all climate scientists agree that the climate change/global warming issue is not only real, but reaching potentially catastrophic levels of change; levels of change that we may never fully recover from in our lifetimes, that will have extremely deleterious effects on the environment and all of us who inhabit it.

Essential reads

Full list of references

Spencer Weart's Climate Change Historical Clearinghouse


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