With Donald Trump officially announcing the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, I feel compelled to write a post about climate change. I do find it amusing that the earliest possible effective date of the US withdrawal is a day after the 2020 election, but Donald Trump (presumably) will be president until 20 January 2021.
Anyway, brass tacks.
Anthropogenic Global Warming Is Real
I know few who deny anymore that global warming is happening (people like this guy are obvious exceptions). The possibility was raised in 1824. Humans were producing, in 1896, as much CO2 as natural sources (e.g. volcanoes), but the same scientist who calculated this concluded that humans were, through the burning of coal, a major contributor to climate change, and in the global warming direction.
Numerous scientists began to postulate as to why the temperature of the globe seemed to be increasing, even early in the 20th century. Sunspot cycles were proposed in the 20s, but rejected by most scientists by the 30s. Milanković proposed changes in the Earth’s orbit, but these cycles were determined to be far too slow to be the major contributor to what was observed at the time.
I will note that it wasn’t until the late 50s that a majority of scientists in the field were concerned about potentially “radical” effects on the climate. While in 1968, some remained unsure whether moderate cooling effects of particulate pollution (smog) or the warming effects of CO2 emissions would dominate, a mere seven out of 51 articles published around that time predicted global cooling—the rest sided with the warming hypothesis.
1981 seems to mark the turning point where an overwhelming majority of scientists agreed with the idea that, not only was the globe warming, but that humans were the primary cause of that warming.
ExxonMobil has a nice list of documents and publications from the 70s and 80s indicating that they were/are aware of the warming impact of CO2 release. And here’s 104 more publications they contributed to. Every last one of them says increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing global warming, and that humans burning fossil fuels are causing the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (to be fully honest, I have only read a few of these, but it gives me some confidence that I’m not entirely mischaracterizing the tenor of these papers).
I was going to make a nice long essay out of this, but I’ll just stick to saying this: It’s happening, people! Do something about it!