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A Brief History of the Scientific Discovery of Climate Change

The history of the scientific discovery of climate change began in the early 19th century when ice ages and other natural changes in paleoclimate were first suspected and the natural greenhouse effect was first identified¹. In the late 19th century, scientists first argued that human emissions of greenhouse gases could change Earth’s energy balance and climate¹.

In the 1820s, French mathematician and physicist Joseph Fourier proposed that energy reaching the Earth from the Sun was not sufficient to explain observed temperatures on Earth and suggested that Earth’s atmosphere must retain some of the heat². In 1859, John Tyndall discovered that some gases trap heat and identified water vapor as a strong greenhouse gas². In 1896, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius was the first to quantify how carbon dioxide (CO2) affects Earth’s temperature².

In 1938, British engineer Guy Stewart Callendar published a paper showing that CO2 levels had risen over the previous century and suggesting that this could lead to global warming³. In 1957, Roger Revelle and Hans Suess published a paper suggesting that human activities could cause significant climate change³. In 1965, US President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee warned him about the dangers of global warming³.

In 1979, a report by the US National Academy of Sciences concluded that “if carbon dioxide continues to increase, [we find] no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible”³. In 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen testified before Congress about global warming³.

This is just a brief history of climate change discovery. There are many more scientists who have contributed to our understanding of climate change over time.

Source: GPT-4 enabled Bing, 30/4/2023
(1) History of climate change science – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_climate_change_science.
(2) Climate Change History. https://www.history.com/topics/natural-disasters-and-environment/history-of-climate-change.
(3) A brief history of climate change – BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-15874560.

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