Coal Burning and Climate Article from 108 Years Ago

I’ve had this image of a news article from 1912 floating around my computer for some time now, and really need to stick it somewhere for safe keeping. Posting it here should keep it somewhere where I can always find it!

The article, from Wednesday, August 14th, 1912 issue of The Rodney & Otamatea Times, Waitemata & Kaipara Gazette in New Zealand, is titled: “Coal Consumption Affecting Climate” and reads:

The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year. When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries.

It is truly an amazing thing that the basics of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels were known and published so matter-of-factly over 108 years ago in New Zealand. Today I imagine if this same article were published in a newspaper a certain segment of the reading public would decry its “political content” and deny its scientific validity.

Of course, by contemporary standards, the 1912 article is glaringly incorrect in one way—the current amount of CO2 being added to the atmosphere annually is approaching six times higher at 40,000,000,000.

Here is a link to an article that shows the original placement on the page of that 1912 newspaper along with some other information.


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