Technological Revolution aka The Industrial Revolution II


a Warmer


20,000 years ago, much of the

United States was covered in

glaciers. In the United States

today, we have a warmer climate

and fewer glaciers.

Alaska's Muir glacier in August 1941 and August 2004. Significant changes occurred in the 63 years between these two photos. Credit: USGS

1895 - Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius

became curious about how decreasing levels

of CO2 in the atmosphere might cool Earth.

In order to explain past ice ages, he wondered

if a decrease in volcanic activity might lower

global CO2 levels.

His calculations showed that if CO2 levels were halved, global temperatures could decrease by about 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit).


Svante Arrhenius

Swedish scientist

Next, Arrhenius

wondered if the

reverse were true

Arrhenius returned

to his calculations,

this time investigating

what would happen

if CO2 levels were


The possibility seemed remote at the time, but his results suggested that global temperatures would increase by the same amount — 5 degrees C or 9 degrees F.

Decades later, modern climate modeling

have confirmed that Arrhenius’ numbers

weren’t far off the mark.




Until recently, humans did not significantly affect the much larger forces of climate and atmosphere

Many scientists believe, however, that with the dawn of the industrial age — and the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil—humans began to significantly add to the amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, enhancing the planet's natural greenhouse effect and causing higher temperatures.

Between 1870 and 1914

Advancements took place and a much more

aggressive approach to production came along

with it. This resulted in using more and more

fossil fuels to support the ever growing demand.


A newspaper clip published Aug. 14, 1912, predicts that coal consumption would produce enough carbon dioxide to warm the climate. (Image credit: Fairfax Media/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ)