Who Discovered Global Warming?

Sometimes you watch the news and people are using scientific terms like we all know what they mean. I find it irritating, especially with words almost nobody who isn’t a scientific specialized in a specific discipline (notably news anchors) has ever heard before. With Global Warming and climate change, we act like we all know what it is about. I read about it, but I don’t even know where it was discovered and by whom. So, I dug up a bit more on the subject. Here we go…

Who was the first person to discover global warming?

Professor Wallace Smith Broecker from Columbia University is known for a 1975 publication in which he gave an accurate prediction of the increase in carbon dioxide content in the air, leading to a clear warming of the Earth. With this article, he made the term “Global Warming” popular.

That said, he was not the one to discover it. But he was the first scientist to record the Ocean Conveyor Belt—which is a network of global ocean currents that have effects on air temperatures and rain patterns. (source)

All of this doesn’t answer the question, of course. Popularizing the name is something though, we have to give him credit where it’s due.

But I almost forget:

What is Global Warming?

The Merriam-Webster definition is an increase in the earth’s atmospheric and oceanic temperatures widely predicted to occur due to an increase in the greenhouse effect resulting especially from pollution.

It’s not a new thing. In fact, even if it’s a rather quick event on the Earth timeline, it’s a long one from the point of view of humans (that’s why some people still have difficulties believing it is a real thing). That said, a scientific published its discovery in 1938!

Guy Callendar (1934) - Who Discovered Global Warming?
Guy Callendar (1934)

Guy Callendar, the Man Who Officially Discovered Global Warning

Published in April 1938, “The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and Its Influence on Temperature” written by Guy Stewart Callendar was not the first of his articles about climate. He worked on the subject for a long time, which led him to collect data coming from 200 meteorological stations. By studying them, he concluded that the temperature had been increasing at a rate of .005 °C per year.

Callendar’s work was previously theorized by older scientists. For example, Irish-English scientist John Tyndall began studying in 1859 the ability of gases like water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone, and others to absorb and transmit radiant heat. He is quite known for that, but even before him, in 1856, Eunice Newton Foote, an American physicist, inventor, and women’s rights campaigner, came to similar conclusions and wrote a paper titled “Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun’s rays” that demonstrated the interactions of the sun’s rays on different gases, illuminating a connection between atmospheric CO2 and the “greenhouse effect.”

The famous “greenhouse effect” aka the fact that Earth’s atmosphere retains heat was discovered even earlier, in 1824 by French physicist Joseph Fourier.

Global Warming was scientifically proven a long time ago. This led to climate studies proving that its impact on Earth’s weather is real, it’s called climate change. Why deny that? I don’t know.

Because of the effect of global warming, navigating the Northwest Passage isn’t a challenge, but that was not always the case!

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