2021 has seen much of the world catch on fire. California, South America, Australia, Siberia…wait, wait, WAIT! Siberia?!! Yes, Siberia. In fact, one Siberian wildfire (there were 100 in this year alone) is the third largest wildfire ever recorded in human history.
And Russia isn’t the only place to experience a rash of out-of-control fires in its hinterlands. They’re happening in frozen tundra around the world. And we’re just talking fire disasters right now. We haven’t even gotten to the dramatic rise of other catastrophic weather events.
Climate Change Is As Real As It Gets.
Which means that just as the breadth and intensity of global warming has shifted, so has the conversation about how, and even if, we need to deal with it. The good news is that we no longer have to suffer through the disingenuous…self-serving….malevolent…let’s move on…question as to whether or not global warming is an actual thing. All anyone has to do is turn on a television or, in many cases, simply step out the door and take a whiff.
The bad news is that we have a new question to contend with: Are we past the point of no return in our ability to do something about it? In other words, is this the beginning of the end?
Before we can answer that question, we’ll first need to take a good hard look back. To a time when mother nature wasn’t sending out SOS smoke signals every day. And a natural world without end was something we all took for granted.
Global Warming Was Discovered In 1938... Yes, We’ve Had Over 80 Years of Scientific Data To Warn Us.
In the beginning of global warming there was no debate. There was just data. Collected by a handful of chronically cold and ill-fed scientists who stored it in various filing cabinets around the world because that was their job.
Their findings didn’t worry anyone since they were never compiled and analyzed on a massive scale. Until 1938. When an obscure scientist named Guy Callendar (no, not calendar, but ironic all the same) did just that. And what he found wasn’t good. Hard evidence that the world was warming. He discovered that over the past 50 years global land temperatures had significantly increased. And he linked that increase to the parallel rise of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere.
Callendar logically deduced that all this radical rising--in temperature and Co2--probably wouldn’t be good for nature. Or the humans who depend on it to live.
So, he told someone. Actually, many someones. Specifically, esteemed colleagues and other movers and shakers in the scientific and governmental realms who he thought probably needed to know. In order to do something. Which they did. Just not what Callendar had in mind.
In the early 1930s Guy Callendar started gathering measurements on the properties of gases, the structure of the atmosphere, the sunlight at different latitudes, the use of fossil fuels, the action of ocean currents, the temperature and rainfall in weather stations across the world, and more factors.This became the first rough draft for the global climate models used today. After years of collecting, calculating and analyzing, Guy came to the alarming conclusion that humans were dumping enough carbon dioxide into the air to raise the world’s average temperature.
The Beginning Of The Great, Idiotic Debate… Science Deniers Ignored Early, Critical Signs Of Climate Change.
As with most ground-breaking scientific discoveries, Callendar’s was met with skepticism. And not only with politicians who didn’t want to cause undue alarm within their (deep pocketed) constituencies. But with many fellow scientists. Including such leading institutions as The British Meteorological Society, who also pooh-poohed his findings. After all, how could they have missed such a thing?
So, the accuracy of his calculations and the acuity of his conclusions were debated. And debated. And debated, and debated and…you got it, debated for years. And then decades. Which meant that nothing was done. After all, one can’t be expected to do something as long as there is a debate going on, right?
In addition to losing some very valuable time in the fight for our planet, these early cycles of debates and delay provided later generations of environmental obstructionists with a roadmap on how to get what they wanted. Which was, of course, to also do nothing. Except create decades of Global Warming Controversy and climate denial.
Although they had markedly different reasons, the early 20th century scientific community, and later 20th century conservative political/fossil fuel industry, wanted to maintain the status quo of climatology theory. And what was that theory again? Oh ya…that although severe weather patterns would crop up from time to time around the world, it was totally normal when seen in the context of centuries and even millennia.
A Handful of Scientists Kept It Real.
Fortunately, there were some key people who weren’t buying it. Specifically, a handful of scientists who had actually read Callendar’s paper and became convinced that a series of strategically organized research programs needed to be conducted to study atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Just in case Callendar was right, and global warming was real. Which eventually led to—where else—Hawaii.
Next blog installment: What Happens In Hawaii Goes To Washington.