Categorized | Climate Change

Climate Change Science, Circa 1955

That purveyor of radical ideas, Life Magazine, was apparently onto the idea of human-caused climate change in 1954.

In a book titled, “The World We Live In,” the editorial staff of Life magazine in 1954 wrote, “For the last century temperatures have shown an upward trend. This has been particularly true in the last four decades, during which glaciers have been in retreat all around the world. The reasons for this gradual warming of the earth cannot be defined with certainty. Once suggested explanation is an increase in carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere. Along with water vapor and ozone, carbon dioxide helps to trap the earth’s heat within the greenhouse of the atmosphere. In the last half a century the carbon dioxide ratio in the atmosphere has increased by 10%, a phenomenon which some attribute to expanding industry, pointing out that six billion tons of carbon dioxide pour from factory chimneys every year. Other authorities believe that a more important factor may be the decimation of forests, which consume great quantities of carbon dioxide, and the disturbance of the soil which exhales it.”

We know today that all three of those ideas were correct – industrial emissions are increasing atmospheric carbon, loss of forests – especially tropical forests – prevents additional carbon dioxide from being pulled from the atmosphere and sequestered in plant tissue and exposure, drying out and oxidation of soils around the world is releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide and also methane.

Jumping to present, The Onion reports today that climate change appears to still be a problem for the planet.

This post was written by:

- who has written 17 posts on dotWild.

Tim Male is Vice President for Conservation at Defenders of Wildlife. Tim directs a number of Defenders’ conservation policy programs, including Habitat and Highways, Conservation Planning, Federal Lands, Oregon Biodiversity Partnership, and Economics.

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dotWild is the blog of scientists and policy experts at Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.