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The Inquisition of Climate Science$
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James Powell

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157193

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157193.001.0001

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The Greenhouse Effect

The Greenhouse Effect

From Curiosity to Threat

Chapter:
(p.43) 5 The Greenhouse Effect
Source:
The Inquisition of Climate Science
Author(s):

James Lawrence Powell

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231157193.003.0005

This chapter discusses how the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide turned from curiosity into a threat. In February 1965, President Lyndon Johnson became the first U.S. president to caution about the possible consequences of the greenhouse effect, saying in a special message to Congress: “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through … a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.” In 1967 one of the earliest computer models of climate addressed the question posed by Arrhenius: if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were to double, how much would global temperature rise? The model pegged the “climate sensitivity” at 2°C (3.6°F), lower than the Swedish Nobelist had calculated 71 years earlier, but not by much. By 1975 an improved computer model raised the estimate to 3.5°C (6.3°F). In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its first report confirming that the earth was warming.

Keywords:   global warming, climate change, greenhouse effect, atmospheric carbon dioxide, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Lyndon Johnson, Svante Arrhenius, computer models

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