This 1912 newspaper article predicted the damage fossil fuels would do to the planet

This 1912 newspaper article predicted the damage fossil fuels would do to the planet
Screenshot/ Paperspast

A news explainer published in 1912 predicted the effects fossil fuels would have on the planet.

The clip was printed in a New Zealand paper, the Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette, on 14 August 1912. Fifteen years after the piece was published the world’s carbon emissions reached 1 billion tonnes a year.

The clip highlighted the negative effects of burning coal, such as increased temperatures - owing to the large amounts of carbon dioxide burnt into the atmosphere.

As Quartz explains, scientist Joseph Fourier discovered that the earth’s temperature might have been regulated by the earth’s atmosphere in the 1820s. Forty years after he died the evidence was proven by John Tyndall who discovered that certain gases trap carbon dioxide and heat. However, Tyndall was proven to be inaccurate as he did not focus on coal being burnt – his focus was on mining.

The previous US vice president Al Gore tweeted about the discovery - during his time in office he pushed to educate more people on climate change.

Swedish scientist Arrhenius then developed Tyndall’s theory. Arrhenius went on to say that fossil fuel combustion can potentially lead to global warming.

Carbon dioxide levels around the world are increasing year after year. The world currently produces, approximately, 40 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the world a day. The news clip states that in 1912 the world would have experienced 7 billion tonnes – the world now produces more than 5 times the previous daily amount.

The clip might have been produced a century ago, but it predicted a problem which still needs to be worked on.

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