Global Warning of Global Warming

Svante Arrhenius

Svante Arrhenius

An extract from The Scientific American, June 1911

Svante Arrhenius has advanced an ingenious theory to account for the glacial periods which have marked several stages of geological history. According to the experiments of Langley, the carbon dioxide and the water vapor which the atmosphere contains, are more opaque to heat rays of great wave lengths which are emitted by the Earth, than to waves of various lengths which emanate from the Sun. Arrhenius infers that any increase in the proportion of carbon dioxide and water vapour in the atmosphere will increase the protection of the Earth against cooling and will consequently raise the temperature of its surface. The theory assumes that the Earth’s atmosphere was poor in carbon dioxide and water vapour during the Earth’s cool glacial periods, and rich in these gases during the hot periods.

Arrhenius’ prescience and insight make me feel humble. I would like to end with something clever or funny, but in fact I am stunned and I think I will just stop here.

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