How We Discovered Climate Change…200 Years Ago

How We Discovered Climate Change…200 Years Ago


This video is sponsored by CuriosityStream.
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using the link in the description. We’ve all heard of Climate Change. Greta
has told us all about it. David Attenbourgh has forced us all to watch walrus’s die.
Icecaps are melting, Australia is burning. It’s been intense. The vast majority of
scientists believe that human industries are radically transforming the climate.
Looking at the headlines you’d think climate change snuck up on us suddenly out of nowhere.
Surely we’ve only known about greenhouse gases for a few decades at the most. Yeah,
Exxon knew about the effects fossil fuels were having on the climate back in the 70’s
did their best to suppress it. But surely it couldn’t go back much further than that
could it? Yeah….Try about 200 years. —-Intro—-
Cogito is more of a humanities type person and not a scientist. Any of the science explained
in this video is simplified and is to the best of my understanding. I am not a scientist
nor am I a warlock. Feel free to correct any mistakes in the comments and I will address
them. Climate Change is happening for a number of
different reasons, but the main culprit is Greenhouse Gases like carbon dioxide, emitted
from the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil.
So what exactly is a greenhouse gas and how do they affect our climate?
This is our planet. This is the sun. The sun shoots solar radiation towards Earth and these
solar rays can easily pass through the gases in our atmosphere. The Earth absorbs these
rays, heats up, and then emits them as thermal radiation or heat. This radiation however
can be absorbed by certain gases in our atmosphere. So some of this heat goes back down towards
Earth and warms it. This forms a greenhous-like heating trapping barrier around Earth. The
more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere the more heat gets trapped.
Since the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide levels have risen more than 30% and our desire
for more land has caused us to chop down or burn huge amounts of carbon absorbing forests.
BUT DON’T LET THE EXISTENTIAL DREAD SET IN…DON’T LET THE EXISTENTIAL DREAD SET
IN. Fourier
The first human person to theorise something like the greenhouse effect was Joseph Fourier.
This clever Frenchman was trying to figure out why the Earth wasn’t a frozen wasteland.
He calculated how much energy the Sun bombarded the Earth with and realised that our planet
should be much colder. Something must have been trapping the sun’s
heat. In an 1824 paper he hypothesised “heat in
the state of light finds less resistance in penetrating the air, than in repassing into
the air when converted into non-luminous heat.” This was description of the greenhouse effect,
and it was made by a guy that was friends with Napoleon. Fourier never actually used
the term greenhouse. He didn’t even conduct an experiment to test his hypothesis or pinpoint
which gas could cause the effect. Foote
That answer would come from the most unlikely of creatures, a hobbit…no it wasn’t a
hobbit? You’re telling me someone with the name Eunice Newton Foote isn’t a hobbit?
Ok whatever. Foote was a woman however, so in the eyes of 19th century scientists, her
opinion was about as relevant as a hobbit’s anyway. Which we’ll see shortly.
Having made the awful decision to be born a woman in 19th century America, Foote didn’t
have much hope at becoming a scientist as women were not offered much scientific education
at the time. But she did enjoy science and had a curious mind, so she conducted her own
amateur scientific experiments. Eunice wanted to know how gases interacted
with sunlight. So she conducted an experiment. She placed
thermometers in glass cylinders and added different gases and varying amounts of moisture
with an air pump. She then placed the cylinders in the sun to
measure the temperature difference over time. She tested gases such as water vapor, common
air, and CO2. She noticed the cylinders filled with water vapor or CO2 heated quicker and
remained hot longer. From this she speculated that “An atmosphere
of [carbon dioxide] would give to our earth a high temperature; and if as some suppose,
at one period of its history the air had mixed with it a larger proportion than at present,
an increased temperature…must have necessarily resulted.”
Her paper was presented by a male scientist on her behalf at the American Association
for the Advancement of Science in 1856. And published the same year in the American Journal
of Arts and Science. Foote had built upon Fourier’s idea, but
she actually tested it and discovered that CO2 was one of the greenhouse gases that trap
heat in our atmosphere. She correctly hypothesised that changing the levels of CO2 would change
the Earth’s temperature, laying the foundation for modern climate science.
But no one paid attention to her work. No one saw how significant of a hypothesis this
was. Eunice became a footnote in climate history. Tyndal
Instead, the credit for the discovery of the greenhouse effect and greenhouse gases is
given to Irish scientist John Tyndall. Tyndall was obsessed with a question that
dominated Victorian era science: The Ice Age Theory.
It had recently been discovered that large parts of the Earth were once covered with
ice and scientists were fascinated with answering what had caused the ice ages.
Which there are 5 of somehow. How did they rope Patrick Stewart in this….. Name Ariscratle,
a saber-toothed squirrel that lives on Scratlantis. Fur is Grayish-brown apparently….that’s
nice. Where were we again? There were a few theories floating about on
what could have caused these ice ages. The first and most obvious was Frost Giants. But
Tyndall like Fourier and Foote argued the atmosphere could change the Earth’s temperature.
To test whether gases could trap heat he built this insane looking thing, however it’s
actually quite easy to understand. Basically, heat is pushed through this tube.
The tube is filled with the gas being tested. The heat leaves the tube, hits this cone and
the heat level is compared against the heat hitting this control cone. Using this heat
difference Tyndall could calculate how much heat the gas in
the tube had absorbed. His results showed that water vapor and CO2
along with some other gases were the primary heat absorbers. He found that CO2 could trap
1,000 times as much heat as common air. “The solar heat possesses, in a far higher
degree than that of lime light, the power of crossing an atmosphere; but, when the heat
is absorbed by the planet, it is so changed in quality that the rays emanating from the
planet cannot get with the same freedom back into space. Thus the atmosphere admits of
the entrance of the solar heat, but checks its exit; and the result is a tendency to
accumulate heat at the surface of the planet.” —John Tyndall (1859)
He had perfectly described the greenhouse effect and proven it with his cones, which
is why he is normally credited with discovering it.
His experiment revealed what Foote had discovered 3 years before. But in Tyndall’s later writings,
he claims “With regard to the action of other gases upon heat, we are not, so far
as I am aware, possessed of a single experiment.” One could argue the Tyndall must have seen
her work since the journal that carried Foote’s paper also carried one by Tyndall on color
blindness. If he went to go look at his published work he easily could have seen hers. We’ll
unfortunately never know if he read her paper or not though.
But Tyndall’s experiment did correct some problems with Eunice’s by being able to isolate
heat radiation for example. Which isn’t surprising due to his advanced
scientific education. His experiment has been much more influential in the field of climate
science than hers. But Eunice’s great idea, in the end, wasn’t
her experiment. It was her hypothesis that changes in the amount of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere could alter our planet’s temperature. And, as far as I know, she was the first person
to think this. This was 150 years ago, this is pre American Civil War.
Who knows what she would have achieved if she’d had Tyndall’s advantages.
Arrheius The final piece of the climate change puzzle
was put together by Swedish physicist Svante Thunberg Arrhenius in 1896. Who created what
we could call the first climate change model predicting that human industry could severely
affect the climate. And yes this Svante Thunberg Arrhenius is
related to Svante Thunberg, father of Greta Thunberg. I guess that family just has a knack
for pointing out the dangers of climate change. Like Tyndall, Arrhenius, was also interested
in the Ice Ages debate. He liked Tyndall’s idea that changes in the atmosphere like decreased
CO2 levels could have caused Ice Ages. So he wanted to calculate how much CO2 it
would take to change global temperatures. Luckily for him another Swedish scientist
Arvid Högbom, had recently published an essay estimating how much CO2 been in the athmosphere
throughout history. With this information at hand Arrhenius began
calculating how much heat would be trapped if levels of CO2 changed. Arrhenius did tens
of thousands of calculations. All by hand, with no calculator.
He discovered that cutting the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by half could lower the
temperature in Europe some 4-5°C. Which is an ice age level.
This explained how the Earth might have cooled but this sparked another interest for Arrheius.
Could this also cause the Earth to heat up? Arvid Hogborn in his calculations of how much
CO2 was in the atmosphere throughout history included things like emissions from volcanoes
but he thought to include the emissions from human industry, like factories.
Looking at this Arrhenius realised if you doubled the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere,
it would raise the world’s temperature by 5-6°C Celsius and that if humanity continued
to burn fossil fuels and pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere we could trigger this
rise in temperature. Which is according to Isabel Hilton “a conclusion
that millions of dollars worth of research over the ensuing century hardly changed at
all,”. Arrhenius was the first person to predict
that our burning of fossil fuels could cause global warming.
Predictions Arrhenius however didn’t think it would
ever be a problem. For him this was all hypothetical. He didn’t imagine we could ever manage to
burn enough fossil fuels to ever seriously impact the climate. Arrhenius predicted that
climate change would happen….eventually. But he thought it would take 3,000 years for
CO2 levels in the atmosphere to rise by 50%. They’ve shot up by 30% in only a 100. DON’T….LET….THE…EXISTENTIAL…..DREAD….SET….IN
Anyway temperature increase probably didn’t sound too bad these Swedish scientists. Some
scientists like Walter Nernst even thought about burning more coal for no reason other
than to release CO2 to purposefully heat the Earth. Dafuq Walter…come on.
Arrhenius even liked the idea of global warming. “By the influence of the increasing percentage
of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better
climates” They couldn’t imagine the negative effects
of climate change. The mass extinctions, the negative feedback loops, the environmental
collapse, the depressing David Attenbourgh documentaries. Seriously everyone, the walrus
scene ruined my life. I haven’t been the same since.
Climate Change might seem like it arrived all of a sudden, if you judge by panic tweets,
depressing headlines, and global protests. But the science predicting it is very old.
We just weren’t paying attention This channel is all about paying attention
to the world. Learning about beliefs, people’s, and interesting topics. Recently I’ve been
paying attention to a bunch of David Attenborough documentaries, my favourite of which is David
Attenborough’s Light On Earth which is absolutely gorgeous and manages to turn nature into a
stunning lightshow. Honestly put it on a big screen in a dark room and it will blow you
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56 thoughts on “How We Discovered Climate Change…200 Years Ago

  1. Sign up for an annual CuriosityStream subscription and you'll also get free access to Nebula (a new streaming platform I'm helping to build along with other creators). Use my promo code when signing up to get a 31-day free trial: https://curiositystream.com/cogito

    —What other things do you know of that seem incredibly modern but have actually been around for a long time?

  2. Pretty sure it had more gases when volcanoes where going off like mad , climate change is normal , a cycle , humans dont matter.

  3. just too bad climate change is fake and gay if it was real why didn't back then when they burn coil a lot that it did not trigger a end of the world event also whatever happen to the ice age claim in the 70s by climate change cultist's or other end of the world events like 2012 whatever happen to that and now you bumpit up to somewhere around 2025 to 2030 climate change tards are as much of a lolcow as thoses who predict jesus return as if they know when it will happen
    also if you want to see the results in fixing climate change look at California compare it to other states and you can see their now even worse off it is
    also funny when democrats say they will fix climate change if you vote for them yet they are ok with flying in their private jets i guess rule apply to thee but not for me sorta thing

  4. The fact that the big capitalist oil companies have known about the affects of fracking but have done nothing just shows how corrupt the world is.
    Australia has been greatly destroyed by this and it's so sad.

  5. Hmm early upload on a Saturday to avoid early comments? As they say early bird gets the worm 😂 good morning everyone and keep up the amazing work Cogito!

  6. The science of climate change has been out for a long time, it's just that only very recently did most countries start to take it somewhat seriously. This is entirely because that science is inconvenient to a lot of major companies who as a result have poured billions into suppressing the science.

  7. 13:26 What is that map? Hainan not a part of China, here I was expecting a map showing me the 9 dash line, Taiwan part of China, and it actually looks like it's a map Pre-Chinese influence on map makers, interesting

  8. We should make chairity, so that the climate change denailers will be able to get some textbooks for physics and chemistry.

  9. Informative video as always but some links in the description don't work and what you're referring to are books and reports from random climate randos then actual official climate reports from legit universities. This is probably because even the best of the our climate tech can't exactly predict climate readings perfectly. Also, worse thing about climate change is that it will increase the temperature by 4 degrees by the end of the century. That's nothing to be alarmed about. We would using the CO2 in the atmosphere for something by then with the upgrade tech. And the reason we are not having things control sooner is because politicians are using the money to build outdated wind turbines and solar panels that hardly make a dent on the overall problem and the rest of it goes in their pockets rather then climate researcher who are improving techs.

  10. Hey cogito, you are doing good. I think you should make make more videos for Sikhism, Hinduism, islam,etc. You are such a great explainer! Too good man too good

  11. Dang I didn't realize it was so bad, now I'm scared and wondering if we should actually begin to start the process of mulling over the conceptualization of starting to worry about climate change

  12. No point being catastrophic about climate change. There was a time when the earth was covered in ice. Another time it was mostly jungle. We will survive.

  13. Why don't all the people who are worried about climate change just stop using fossil fuels. We can do it! Lets just stop right now. Come on… don't be a hypocrite.. stop drinking purified water, living in a heated home, eating fresh produce, traveling, using a mobile device or computer, getting healthcare, working in an office, wearing manufactured clothing, using lights, using electricity… basically any aspect of modern life. Come on guys, Climate Change Is Real!

  14. Remember the Year Without a Summer, the first climate emergency, and how it was allegedly caused by Ben Franklin's lightning rod?

  15. 1:41 The sun emits more than visible light (380 to 740 nanometers). Most of wavelength responsible for heat is not in the visible range but is in the infrared, 700 nanometers to 1 millimeter.

  16. Here's my honest, if unqualified assessment. I'm familiar with the science (in its several recent iterations) and I'm also familiar with the way it's been popularly discussed and disseminated over the years. I myself am in the middle between so-called deniers and the hysterics. I think you could use a balanced perspective, so allow me to play devil's advocate to your existential dread a wee bit:

    Climate change, per se, is NOT a bad thing. For one, the Earth is not going anywhere. Climate change is not a doomsday or the end of the world, at all. (It irks me when climate change is hysterically called the "end of the world!") The Earth will literally be fine and keep on truckin'. It's the life on Earth that will have difficulties. Yes, some species will go extinct, maybe even a lot, and I certainly hope that as few species poof out of existence as possible. The thing is, though, 99% of the species that have ever lived are gone. Extinction is a normal and natural thing. I think that's the least of our worries, really. For every species that goes extinct, a new species will evolve to fill the vacant niche, eventually. Life goes on, just as the Earth goes on. The real problems of climate change are how it affects humanity, which makes sense, because climate change is perceived from our perspective.

    I can understand why the European scientists, whose names I cannot recall, but which sound very Swedishy, naively thought that climate change was a net good. You live in Ireland, which has a climate moderated by the sea. It's very hard to live in the north of Eurasia; I can see why they liked the idea of raising the temperature of the Earth. It's also true that the Earth has been much hotter, many times before. The Earth has had a great range of temperatures which have much more to do with Milanković Cycles than with greenhouse gas levels. The Earth has been far colder and far hotter. There's nothing special about the current temperature or being a couple degrees Celsius warmer, on average. Interestingly, if the Earth were a couple degrees Celsius colder, on average, it would be a huge problem, and cause an Ice Age, which would be a far more serious and disastrous problem than a bit of warming.

    Now, if you were to say that it's taken the Earth a lot longer to change temperatures than it is now, and life had a time to adjust to it, unlike now, you'd be mostly right. However, the Earth has swung colder and hotter many times, relatively swiftly, for a variety or reasons; again, nothing special, historically speaking.

    As stated previously, the real danger of climate change is its effects of humans and human civilization. Some areas will become aridifized while others will become wet and fertile for the first time in ages. Some ares will have increased flooding while others will have increased drought. Some ares will have a general rise in temperature and some areas will have a general decline in temperature; in both cases, it will be slight, but noticeable. So, really, "change" is the operative word, here. The Earth's climate has changed MANY times before, absolutely countless times, and life has adjusted and gone on.

    The point of contention is not what we can do about it (because the answer to that is simple: reduce carbon and methane emissions, and that's already in progress and eventually will get as low as it can possible be with our level of global development) but how we can adapt to the situation we caused/exacerbated. People will migrate from aridifying areas and areas under drought or flooding, and move to more fertile areas. People will flee from issues caused by lack of water and lack of food, and violence arising from this. Most people live on the coasts and will be displaced by rising sea levels, which will cause them to migrate. So basically, various kinds of "climate refugees" and the issues arising from them, will be the issue.

    If governments would be proactive, then it would be possible to deal with this: storing food and water, attempting to determine where new arable land will be, planning with other governments where the estimated masses of people will be moved to and how to integrate them. Every government is ignoring these issues currently and focusing on "preventing" climate change. That ship has sailed, it's too late. We will be dealing with the effects of climate change even if we went to 0 greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow. The damage has been done. Even if every country dissolved itself and rejected modern technology and civilization, returned to the ways of hunting and gathering, and were generally fine with billions of people subsequently dying and all the resulting chaos, it would not lower global temperature levels. They would still rise.

    People should be advocating for their governments to start planning for droughts or floods, as appropriate, and start coordinating with other countries regarding climate refugees. If people were serious about the realities of climate change, then this is how they should be behaving. Most people, including millennial and zoomer climate activists, have their heads in the sand, and are still behaving as if things can be stopped or reversed. No dice. There will be a lot of human suffering and chaos, and not being prepared because of willful ignorance and wishful thinking will only add to that.

    The world over the next hundred years is going to change drastically. We will loose a lot of species, our coastlines will change forever, and human borders and cultures will change irreversibly. But humanity will still survive, life will continue, and the Earth isn't going anywhere. The sensible course of action is to continue decreasing greenhouse emissions and converting to renewables, along with investing in nuclear (for the time being) and really trying to crack fusion. The other sensible course of action is to be as prepared as possible for the human consequences of climate change.

    People should confront their governments about their inactivity and heal-dragging with regards to their own local climate planning and for not engaging in international cooperation to figure out how to deal with climate refugees. People should hold their governments responsible and demand that they plan and collaborate. Finally, everybody should accept that, whatever else, the damage has been done. The egg cannot be uncracked. Change is a part of life, however drastic. We can be productive about planning for our self-imposed future or we can sit around moaning with existential dread.

  17. earths atmosphere is about 0.04% CO2
    yet mars atmosphere CO2 levels are about 98%
    the more and more i look into climate change the more i become a sceptic

  18. i'm with the scientists that want a warmer Earth. it would be beneficial for life in general (although somewhat inconvenient to humans near the coasts) to finally get out of the ice age we're still in.

  19. Yayy Cogito is back! Great video man. You've gotta feel bad for Foote and other female scientists and enthusiasts pre-late 20th century. Very few were ever taken seriously and many developed very legitimate hypothesis and experiments.

  20. So glad you did a video like this! And so eye opening too. Imagine if people back then took this idea more seriously and where we might be now….oh well i guess lol can't wait for the next video!

  21. Kinda strange that CO2 levels have increased by 30% yet the global temperature hasn't increased more than 0,74 degrees last 100 years.

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