Joined: May 2011
I was aware of Arrhenius, thanks. He was the first to posit the link between human-generated CO2 and climate change. But his theory was not accepted by the mainstream for many decades.
Some excerpts from the wikipedia pages mentioned above:
|While a few early 20th-Century scientists supported Arrhenius' work, including E. O. Hulburt and Guy Stewart Callendar, most scientific opinion disputed or ignored it through the early 1950s.|
| In the late 19th century, scientists first argued that human emissions of greenhouse gases could change the climate, but the calculations were disputed. In the 1950s and 1960s, scientists increasingly thought that human activity could change the climate on a timescale of decades, but were unsure whether the net impact would be to warm or cool the climate. During the 1970s, scientific opinion increasingly favored the warming viewpoint. In the 1980s the consensus position formed that human activity was in the process of warming the climate...|
...which is why I called it a relatively new field (keep in mind what "relatively" means -- it's not an absolute) and why I referenced the 1980s as when things got serious. On reflection, I was probably off by a decade or so.
I'm mostly interested in the nuts and bolts elements of the work, less than the theoretical underpinnings. Such as the development of reliable models that could tell us, for example, if we reduce CO2 emissions to x level, it will have y effect on sea levels, precipitation, glacier formation, or whatever. It seems to me that work is still at a relatively early stage. But I could well be ignorant about the latest developments.