First Proposal of Global Warming
When was global warming first proposed in the scientific community? Who proposed it?
In 1896, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius wrote "On the influence of carbonic acid
in the air upon the temperature of the ground". In this paper, he determined:1
"the slight percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere may, by the advances of industry, be changed to a noticeable degree in the course of a few centuries."
NASA describes the novelty of Arrhenius' research as follows:2
He went on to become the first person to investigate the effect that doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide would have on global climate.
Even though he was a pioneer, Arrhenius relied on others. Here is NASA's account of his methodology:
Arrhenius' first climate model was based on Samuel Langley's infrared
measurements of the temperature of the moon, from which Arrhenius
derived the infrared transmissions of carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Arrhenius's ideas built off of others, especially the French mathematician Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier, who argued that the earth's atmosphere traps solar radiation and reflects it back to earth.3
Arrhenius did not reach the same gloomy conclusions that global warming brings to mind today. In fact, according to PBS, the conclusion was the opposite:
The unique research of Arrhenius suggested that this increase could be beneficial, making Earth's climates "more equable" and stimulating plant growth and food production.