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TIME Magazine, May 15, 1950:|
Is the U.S. climate getting warmer? U.S. meteorologists observing and charting the weather with growing exactitude over the past 20 years are no closer to agreement on the question than their predecessors of a century ago. Last week a Washington convention of the American Meteorological Society heard strong evidence to favor the warmup theory.
Dr. Richmond T. Zoch of the Weather Bureau reported that Washington temperature records, begun in 1862, show that Washington's climate had warmed by about 3.5 degrees Farenheit since then. Harvard's Dr. John H. Conover backed Dr. Zoch. He said that a 100-year record kept at the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory and at nearby Milton Centre, Mass. showed a 3 degree increase. Dr. Conover had gone to the trouble of finding the early Victorian thermometer used in 1849 and checking it against modern instruments, made allowances for the differences. In further support of his position, he pointed out that the Blue Hill records were made in a large state park well outside of Boston. So they were immune to the heating effect attributed to great modern cities.
TIME Magazine, May 25, 1953:|
In the hungry fires of industry, modern man burns nearly 2 billion tons of coal and oil each year. Along with the smoke and soot of commerce, his furnaces belch some 6 billion tons of unseen carbon dioxide into the already tainted air. By conservative estimate, the earth's atmosphere, in the next 127 years, will contain nearly 50% more CO2.
This spreading envelope of gas around the earth, says Johns Hopkins physicist Gilbert N. Plass, serves as a great greenhouse. Transparent to the radiant heat from the sun, it blocks the longer wavelengths of heat that bounce back from the earth. At its present rate of increase, says Plass, the CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the earth's average temperature 1.5 degrees Farenheit every 100 years.
As the blanket of CO2 gets thicker, it also prevents the tops of clouds from losing heat as rapidly as before. The smaller temperature difference between the cloud base and top cuts down the air currents which must circulate through the cloud before rain or snow can form. Lowered rainfall will make a drier climate. Less cloud cover will be formed, more sunlight will reach the earth, and the average temperature will rise still higher...
TIME Magazine, May 28, 1956, p. 59:|
One Big Greenhouse
The temperature of the earth's surface depends largely on two minor constituents of the atmosphere: water vapor an carbon dioxide. They are transparent to the short-wave energy (light and near infra-red) that comes from the sun, but opaque to most of the long-wave heat radiation that tries to return to space. This "greenhouse effect" traps heat and makes the earth's surface considerably warmer than it would be if the atmosphere had no water vapor or carbon dioxide in it. An increase in either constituent would make it warmer still. Warm eras in the geological past may have been caused by CO2 from volcanoes.
At present the atmosphere contains 2.35 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, existing in equilibrium with living plants and sea water (which tends to dissolve it). Up to 1860, man's fires added only about 500 million tons per year, and the atmosphere had no trouble in getting rid of this small amount. But each year more furnaces and engines poured CO2 into the atmosphere. By 1950, it was 9 billion tons. By 2010, if present trends continue, 47 billion tons of carbon dioxide will enter the air each year.
This will be only 2% of the total carbon dioxide, but if it is more than can be dissolved by the oceans or absorbed by plants or minerals, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will tend to increase. The greenhouse effect will be intensified. Some scientists believe that this is the cause of recent warming of the earth's climate...
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