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FEATURE ARTICLE

Carbon Dioxide and the Climate

A 1956 American Scientist article explores climate change; two contemporary commentaries illuminate its relevance to the present

Gilbert N. Plass, James Rodger Fleming, Gavin Schmidt

2010-01PlassFA.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageIn the July 1956 issue of American Scientist a Canadian-born physicist resurrected a theory of climatic change that had languished since the heady last decade of the 1800s when it was championed by the likes of Svante Arrhenius and T. C. Chamberlain. Plass explained in detail the sources and sinks for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and offered estimates of its influence on global average temperature and even ocean acidity. For this and other articles, Plass is often referred to as the father of modern greenhouse-gas theory.

At the conclusion of the full original text, James Fleming offers perspective on the significance of Plass's work, and Gavin Schmidt reflects on how the science holds up more than 50 years later.


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