HOW COULD WE HAVE KNOWN? A Timeline Compiled by Dick Bennett, revised New Year’s Eve 2021.
A CHRONOLOGICAL SAMPLE OF BOOKS, ARTICLES, FILMS, EVENTS REVEALING THE LONG, OBSTRUCTED LEARNING CURVE OF GLOBAL WARMING ANTICIPATING THE PRESENT URGENCY OF GLOBAL CHANGE BECOMING CLIMATE CATASTROPHE/EMERGENCY/CHAOS: FROM 1926 TO 2000. The revision of the Timeline years 2000 to present will appear soon. (Years in 18 point type; texts in 12. Roughly, Green indicates advancing knowledge of the reality of climate change, of ensuing climate calamity, emergency, and chaos, and of resisters. Red indicates villains and villainy defending the status quo by corporations, denial, media ownership, financial system, chicanery, lying, dark money, bribery, disinformation, information control.)
1926 (Vladimir Vernadsky, The Biosphere, early Soviet use of key concept of integrated living organisms and nonliving environment (not trans. into English until 1998!). In the same time period Aleksei Pavlov referred to the Anthropocene and anthropogenic era as the new mainly human-driven geological period.
1945-50 a major spike of warming
“marking a Great Acceleration in human impacts on the environment,”
particularly in “fallout radionuclides from nuclear weapons testing.”
1950s and ‘60s: Rachel Carson observes atmospheric and oceanic warming.
In The Edge of the Sea, Rachel Carson observed the atmosphere and oceans warming, and noted the importance of a stable temperature to their creature inhabitants.
Scientists began sampling the air and measuring the temperature at Mauna Loa Observatory.
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring. If undermined, the living processes of Earth will “return in time” to haunt us.
Rachel Carson, “Our Polluted Environment” introduced the concept of ecosystem—an integrated ecological
perspective--to the US public, and “the need to take it into account in all of
our actions” (Foster, “The Anthropocene Crisis,” 11).
Keeling made his first visit to the Mauna Loa Observatory leading to the “Keeling Curve.”
Oil Co.”Total has known that burning fossil fuels could cause a climate crisis since 1971.1 1 - Science Direct “ “They knew. They lied. They stole our future.” 350.org. (10-21-21).
UN Conference on the Environment: serious warning we have seriously compromised the health of the Earth (Bertell, 2).
Donella Meadows, et al. The Limits to Growth. (See A Synopsis: Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update by Donella Meadows, et al.)
First appearance of word Anthropocene in English.
“…the U.S. National Academy of Sciences warned that unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions might raise global temperatures as much as 10’F [5.5’C] and raise sea level 20 feet.” Romm, Climate Change, 2nd ed., xv.
1978 “Our 1978 article, ‘Is Mankind Warming the Earth,’ marks one of the earliest uses of the phrase ‘climate change.’” “Speak Truth to Power,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (11-6-21).
E. P. Thompson. “Notes on Exterminism, the Last Stage of Civilization.” New Left Review (May-June).
James Hansen’s first article on warming. Disinformation campaign begins (Hoggan, Climate Cover-up).
Barry Commoner. The Closing Circle. Aware of the rift in the metabolism of the biosphere, he warns of “the vast changes in the human relation to the planet, beginning with the atomic age and the rise of modern… synthetic chemistry.”
William Catton, Jr. Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. There must be limits to our tremendous appetite for population growth, energy, natural resources, and consumer goods.
United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IPCC is a
scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). It reviews and
assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information
produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It was first
established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),
and later endorsed by the United
Nations General Assembly through
Hansen’s report to Senate 6-23 on significant warming.
James Hansen: “…in 1988 [Hansen reported,} the four warmest years on record were all in the 1980s. The two warmest years were 1981 and 1987. During a senate meeting on June 23rd, 1988, Hansen reported that he was ninety-nine percent certain the earth was warmer than it had ever been measured to be, there was a clear cause and effect relationship with the greenhouse effect” (Wikipedia).
Peter Seidel. Invisible Walls: Why We Ignore the Damage We Inflict on Our Planet…and Ourselves.
PBS/NOVA showed its first documentary on CC in 1988, its 17th on April 18, 2018.
Bill McKibben, The End of Nature, “the first popular book warning of climate change” (Hawken, Drawdown, 216).
The UN’S IPCC published its First Assessment Report (FAR), a supplementary report in 1992, 2nd assessment report in1995 (SAR), third assessment report (TAR) in 2001, fourth assessment report (AR4) in 2007, fifth assessment report (AR5) in 2014, 6th in 2018-2021(AR6). The IPCC inspired an outpouring of research and publications.
Colin Hocking, et al. Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect. A textbook for grades 7 to 10. The earliest textbook for youths on climate change of which I am aware.
Lester Brown, et al. “World Without End,” Natural History (May 1990).
Edburg and Yablokov. Tomorrow Will
Be Too Late: East Meets West on Global Ecology.
dialogue between Swedish statesman Rolf Edberg and Soviet biologist Alexei Yablokov,
Jeremy Rifkin”s Biosphere Politics: A New Consciousness for a New Century recognizes nuclear war and greenhouse gasses as wars against nature (and apparently he was unaware of Vernadsky or the IPCC’s First Report). See 1926 and 1990. See Tom Engelhardt, “Our Not-So-Slow-Motion Apocalypse”(2021), for the explicit linking of war and warming, war of terrorists and tarrarists.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted based on scientists’ consensus of anthropogenic alteration of atmosphere. Went into effect in 1994.
Al Gore. Earth in the Balance. (One of the earliest books inspired by the IPCC reports.) Before the expression “Green Apollo program” gained usage, Gore “and numerous others” had urged such a program (Hertsgaard 272). “Gore had urged the U.S. government to initiate a green Marshall Plan.” (Gore is one of the unsung heroes of the ecology movement to save planet and civilization.)
“Warning to Humanity” “on the dangers of climate change signed by over 1,500 of the world’s scientists, including more than half of the recipients of the Nobel Prize among living scientists”
Lester Brown. State of the World.
John Bellamy Foster. The Vulnerable Planet. “biobeochemical cycles of the Earth System were being disrupted by the increasing scale of capitalist production.” Foster, “The Planetary Rift.”
UN IPCC 2nd Second Assessment Report (SAR)
David Edwards. Burning All Illusions. An intense rejection of “the fanatical system of profit,” because “all major environmental problems . . .are all symptoms of the same massive trauma resulting from industrial intervention interfering with the natural life-supporting systems of global life” (144).
Mark Hertsgaard in Earth Odyssey foretold massive dangers ahead and “proposed a Global Green Deal, modeled on the New Deal” of FDR. (from his Hot).
Thomas Casten. Turning Off the Heat: Why America Must Double Energy Efficiency to Save Money and Reduce Global Warming. Notable for having been published so early, though he had started his warnings about C02 in 1975.
ExxonMobil denial campaign questions scientific certainty. Copying from the tobacco industry’s successful delay of tobacco regulation, the fossil fuels industry needed only to instill a little doubt, until confidence in climate change science decreased and EM’s profits soared.
Our children ask us,
what did you do while the planet was plundered?