HSHM 211 Lecture 12: Global Catastrophe 12

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Yale University
Hist of Science, Hist of Med
HSHM 211
William Rankin

HSHM 211: GLOBAL CATASTROPHE SINCE 1750 3/27/17: The Greenhouse Effect, from Ice Ages to Global Warming  Goals for understanding global warming 1. Put it into larger context a. Especially about data o Not enough vs. too much b. Need for simplification and limits of predictability  Global warming 1. Projection: ranging between 1.5 and 6°C by 2100 2. Issues of global warming are issues of human beings a. Many people in coastal regions affected because low-lying areas will be completely under water b. Major Biosystems problems o Major extinctions o Loss of biodiversity c. Social problems o More intense hurricanes o Flooding, disease, malnutrition, mass displacement o Food and water supply d. Subtle global changes o Average global temperature increase of a few degrees o Sea-level rise of a few feet o Some shifting weather patterns e. Big local impacts o Arctic, river deltas, breadbasket regions hut hard  Greenhouse effect and ice ages 1. Greenhouse effect: Certain gases in atmosphere such 2s CO that act as insulation which trap gases within our atmosphere and increase temperature 2. Early researchers a. Joseph Fourier (1820s) o What determines temperature of the earth? b. John Tyndall (1850s-60s) o Measurements of absorption for various gasses o Importance of water vapor  Produces “all mutations of climate” c. Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927) o Swedish chemist o 1869: doubling amount of C2 in atmosphere leads to warming of 5-6 degrees C o 1904: interest in 2O from burning coal o Soon dismissed by other scientists o Believed some amount of global warming will be good to guard against future ice ages d. Guy Callendar (1898-1964) o British steam engineer o Late 1930s: fresh look at2CO o Still in relation to ice ages, and global warming is good e. These researchers had interested in past rather than future o More worried about earth getting colder than warmer 3. Postwar researchers a. U.S. military had money to research 2O o Evaluated Callendar: excess 2O absorbed by oceans b. Roger Revelle and Hans Suess (1957) o Believed human beings are carrying out large-scale geophysical experiment by which in a few centuries returning to pas2 CO levels o Not ominous message c. Charles Keeling’s C2 monitoring o Keeling curve displaying increase in atmospheri2 CO in Hawaii over 50 years d. First research in mid-1950s o Concern by mid-1960s
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