Still Warming Up

Increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 gave credence to the idea that people were the primary cause of warming surface temperatures. While the popular media published articles about "weird weather," scientists continued to argue about temperature trends and just what they meant for the future.

The geophysicists W. Maurice Ewing (1906-74) and William Donn (1918-87) had proposed that warming would cause the Arctic ice sheet to break up. This event would, they thought, lead to increased precipitation in higher latitudes, triggering a new ice age. Although Ewing and Donn's ideas tended to stay within scientific circles, the idea of a new ice age was picked up by the journalist Betty Friedan (1921-2006) (later known for her work in feminist causes) writing for a popular audience in Harper's Magazine in 1958. Just as most people were coming to grips with Earth's surface temperature's warming up, it appeared that the warming might be short-lived. Just what was happening with the temperature pattern?

Guy Stewart Callendar, who had continued his work analyzing the effects of CO2 emissions on atmospheric warming, published his last paper in 1961. He concluded that there had been a significant increase in the temperature north of 45° latitude, CO2 levels had increased by 7 percent since 1920, and the increasing back radiation due to CO2 was responsible for the temperature increases. Since the data clearly showed that CO2 levels were continuing to rise, it was to be expected that surface temperatures would increase.

Temperatures were "above average" when compared to temperatures over the previous 100 years. The question as the decade opened: Was the

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