1896: On the Influence of [Carbon Dioxide] in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground

1912 Coal Consumption Affecting Climate

By Prof. Svante Arrhenius
Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science Series 5, Volume 41, April 1896, pages 237-276.

This photocopy was prepared by Robert A. Rohde for Global Warming Art (http://www.globalwarmingart.com/) from original printed material that is now in the public domain.

Arrhenius’s paper is the first to quantify the contribution of carbon dioxide to the greenhouse effect (Sections I-IV) and to speculate about whether variations in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide have contributed to long-term variations in climate (Section V). Throughout this paper, Arrhenius refers to carbon dioxide as “carbonic acid” in accordance with the convention at the time he was writing.

Contrary to some misunderstandings, Arrhenius does not explicitly suggest in this paper that the burning of fossil fuels will cause global warming, though it is clear that he is aware that fossil fuels are a potentially significant source of carbon dioxide (page 270), and he does explicitly suggest this outcome in later work.

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