Miskatonic University Press

The Science Teacher

climate.change libraries

While doing some collection development work I was looking at our holdings of The Science Teacher, a publication of the National Science Teaching Association. I flipped through some issues from the late eighties and was very impressed. This is top-notch science literacy.

Here’s a quote from “Atmospheric Science: It’s More Than Meteorology,” by David R. Smith and Gerald H. Krockover (who died in 2020), in The Science Teacher vol. 55 no. 1 (January 1988) (JSTOR 24142757):

The amount of carbon dioxide has increased approximately 10 percent in the past 25 years. Because plants help to moderate the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by using the gas in photosynthesis, extensive deforestation operations only exacerbate the problem. Projections indicate that the level of carbon dioxide is likely to double in the next 50 to 100 years.

What will be the effect of such an increase in carbon dioxide on our atmosphere? Computer models suggest that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide could raise the global average temperature by 1.5 to 4.5°C, which would result in the warmest climate seen on Earth in 5000 years. The side effects of such a global warming could include melting of the polar ice caps, shifting of key crop zones, and changing of animal migration patterns.

And a few months later, from “The Greenhouse Effect in a Vial,” by Richard Golden (who also died in 2020) and Cary Sneider in The Science Teacher vol. 56 no. 5 (May 1989) (JSTOR 24141686).

For years, scientists have been warning us that the excessive burning of fossil fuels could bring on a general global warming through an enhanced greenhouse effect. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the industrialized world’s consumption of energy has increased the CO₂ content of the atmosphere by more than 25 percent. The concentration of CO₂ has increased by 9 percent in just the last 30 years. And at our current rate of fuel consumption, we release as much carbon each year, in the form of CO₂, as it took the Earth 130,000 years to bury (Postel, 1986).

Today’s high school students will be faced, through all their adult years, with decisions related to energy use. For these students to make intelligent and responsible choices, they need to comprehend the underlying scientific principles of the greenhouse effect, and they need to know what social, economic, and political consequences could result from even a moderate climactic change.

That’s from thirty-five years ago.