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First Mention

1965

Roger Revelle contributes to the first mention of global warming in a government report, drawing an analogy between human-produced gases entering the global atmosphere and the effect of glass in a greenhouse

Serving on the President’s Science Advisory Committee Panel on Environmental Pollution, oceanographer Roger Revelle contributes to an appendix to the government report Restoring the Quality of our Environment, entitled “Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuels:  the Invisible Pollutant.” Citing measurements by the U.S. Weather Bureau on Mauna Loa Mountain in Hawaii, the report notes that “the data show, clearly and conclusively, that from 1958 through 1962 the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere increased by 1.36 percent. The increase from year to year was quite regular, close to the average annual value of 0.23%. By comparing the measured increase with the known quantity of carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel combustion … we see that almost exactly half of the fossil fuel CO2 apparently remained in the atmosphere.” The report concludes that “Within a few short centuries, we are contributing to the air a significant portion of the carbon that was slowly extracted by plants and buried in the sediments during half a billion years… [A]n increase in atmospheric carbon could act, much like the glass in a greenhouse, to raise the temperature of the lower air.”*

*Environmental Pollution Panel of the President’s Scientific Advisory Committee, Restoring the Quality of Our Environment, 1965 (Washington, DC: GPO,1965), App. Y4, 116, http://stanford.io/2t1UOU1.

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