Monday, 29 June 2020

Don't say we weren't warned

From a remarkable piece in The Guardian by Celina Ribeiro, which you can read here:

The furnaces of the world are now
burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of
coal a year. When this is burned,
uniting with oxygen, it adds about
7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide
to the atmosphere yearly. This tends
to make the air a more effective blan-
ket for the earth and to raise its
temperature. The effect may be con-
siderable in a few centuries."

I thought Hawkwind were doing well to reference global warming on their 1979 album PXR-5,
but this article appeared in nineteen fucking twelve.


  1. The notion of a connection between carbon dioxide concentration and climate seems to have been in the air (my first pun ever, sorry) at the beginning of the last century. According to "Historical Perspectives on Climate Change" by James Rodger Fleming, Svante Arrhenius said in 1906:

    "By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates, especially as regards the colder regions of the earth, ages when the earth will bring forth much more abundant crops than at present, for the benefit of rapidly propagating mankind."

  2. Definitely a "glass half full" guy.

  3. That they were aware of the possible ramifications way back then, which have basically been ignored by the worst offending countries is insane!

  4. I don't think it's insane. It's just human nature - especially in an era before the need to implement environmental regulations started being taken more seriously - to think that "we'll solve that problem eventually" or "it's not that bad yet, we'll deal with it in the future". Short-sighted, yes, but we were also short-sighted about hings like freons, and that was just a few decades ago. We've been short-sighted about a lot of things throughout history. And not to be mean, but given the political and social attitudes of the time, I can't imagine Victorian or Edwardian era societies taking practical environmentalism that seriously, despite their being some good early efforts in that direction. I feel industry, with its clear "bringing of progress", was a lot more pardoned and fetishised a hundred years ago, even if it had various vocal detractors (including people from the other extreme end). Either way, it's important what we do nowadays, not what we could have or should have done a century ago. History can't be reversed or rewritten, despite all the flourishes of time travel fiction.