Global warming has long scientific history

Eunice Foote was apparently the first to describe the possible effect of carbon dioxide on global climate.

Who was Eunice Foote? She was a woman from upstate New York who apparently was the first to describe the possible effect of carbon dioxide on global climate.

That was on Aug. 23, 1856.

Foote had done a series of experiments putting different gases into large glass jars and then measuring how quickly they warmed up when exposed to sunlight.

She found that the jar containing carbon dioxide (“carbonic acid gas” as it was known back then) got 20 degrees (presumably Fahrenheit) warmer than the jar filled with ordinary air.

It also stayed warmer longer.

A paper reporting her results was presented to a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Here is part of what she wrote: “An atmosphere of that gas would give to our earth a high temperature; and if, as some suppose, at one period in its history the air had mixed with it a larger proportion than at present, an increased temperature from its own action as well as from increased weight must have resulted.”

According to Wikipedia, Foote was a member of the editorial committee for the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, she was one of the signatories of the convention’s Declaration of Sentiments. She also worked on electrical excitation of gases, and received a patent in 1860 for a “filling for soles of boots and shoes.”

Her husband, Elisha Foote was a judge, inventor, and mathematician. One of their daughters  married John B. Henderson, a senator from Missouri who introduced 13th amendment to the Constitution that abolished slavery in the United States.

So, we’ve known for 160 years that carbon dioxide traps and retains heat.

And we’ve known since the late 1950s, from measurements at the observatory at Mauna Loa in Hawaii, that the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is increasing year by year. Despite the efforts of many, that rate of increase is not slowing – in fact, last year saw the biggest measured increase yet.

Recently, Citizens Climate Lobby-Canada posted a petition on Change.org that asks Premier Christy Clark to work with her counterparts across the country to enact national carbon pricing that: (1) matches the B.C. carbon tax of $30 per tonne of carbon emissions; and (2) increases by at least $10 per tonne annually.

Please consider adding your name to the petition.

 

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