A newspaper article in 1912 warned about climate change.
The debate over coal continues to rage across America. As recently as the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was talking up “clean coal” while Hillary Clinton was on the defensive about what to do about people working in the coal industry.
But it turns out, experts have been aware of the threat for a long time. As in more than 100 years.
A 1912 article in the Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette entitled, “Coal Consumption Affecting Climate” laid out the numbers clearly:
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 blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries.
Reading the brief article it almost seems too far ahead of its time. Were people really warning about the potentially devastating effects of coal to the Earth’s atmosphere?
It’s so shocking people thought it was fake. It’s not.
After the article was shared on social media, some people quickly chimed in claiming it was a hoax. The website Snopes investigated and quickly confirmed the article was very real.
In fact, the brief story was taken from an more in-depth investigative article published in March 1912 issue of Popular Mechanics.
Further, Snopes points out that there are public accounts of the scientific warnings of global warming dating back at least to 1896.
The debate over climate change is so 20th century.
There’s a fair debate about how to handle the devastating impact of climate change. There’s no debating man’s role in contributing to it.
The experts understood this more than 100 years ago. Even major oil companies like Shell openly discussed the issue back in the 1960’s.
And yet our politicians are still engaging in a fruitless discussion over it today as if it’s up for debate. It’s not. It’s time to take a page from 1912 and do something about climate change today while we still can.