Friday, July 15, 2005

Paul Erhlich on climate change in 1968

While researching something else, I came across this on page 52 of The Population Bomb (published 1968):

The greenhouse effect is being enhanced now by the greatly increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the last century our burning of fossil fuels raised the level some 15%. The greenhouse effect today is being countered by low-level clouds generated by contrails, dust, and other contaminants that tend to keep the energy of the sun from warming the Earth in the first place.

At the moment we cannot predict what the overall climatic results will be of our using the atmosphere as a garbage dump.

Just one more refutation of the denialist claim that scientists were convinced 30-40 years ago of an imminent ice age, and so we should ignore the current scientific consensus on global warming.

P.S. Yes, I know that Ehrlich greatly overestimated the short and medium term effects of the population explosion. Given that we now know which atmospheric garbage dump trend will win out, the long-term effects of the world's population increase may still bear out Ehrlich's predictions.

UPDATE: Trying to add pictures of the text:

From Page 51: "But even more important is the potential for changing the climate of the Earth. All of the junk we dump into the atmosphere, all of the dust, all of the carbon dioxide, have effects on the temperature balance of the Earth."

Page 52: showing the quote from the top of this post.

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