102-Year-Old Newspaper Clipping Found By Redditors Predicts Climate Change

"The effect may be considerable in a few centuries."

An article from 1912 warning about the effects of climate change went viral on Reddit this week, with 129,000 upvotes.

The news clipping, apparently from a New Zealand weekly newspaper called the Rodney and Otamatea Times, was published on August 14, 1912, almost 103 years ago. It's not the first news clipping about climate change, but the eerily accurate description of how pollution results in rising temperatures is well worth its spot in New Zealand's Warkworth Museum.


"The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year," it reads. "When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries." 

Other science stories in the same section of the paper marvel at things like the deepest hole dug into the earth and how more people are using nickel for their silverware.

While the worries about coal may have sounded far-fetched at the time, the negative effects of coal on the climate have been widely documented since — and coal's relationship with climate change is now accepted science. According to Quartz, the first mention of coal causing climate change came in 1883. It started when, in 1882, a man named HA Phillips wrote in scientific journal Nature that "hydrogen, marsh gas, and ethylene have the property to a very high degree of absorbing and radiating heat... from this we may conclude that the increasing pollution of the atmosphere will have a marked influence on the climate of the world."

Not long after, in 1883, The New York Times published the letter in an article about climate change. While Philips didn't have everything right about climate change, he accurately predicted our need for fossil fuels could effect the climate.

Recently, climate change has once again found its way into the news. Donald Trump has promised to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, and in response states like California and Hawaii have pledged to be global leaders in the fight against climate change.


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