Today, Feb. 19, is a very special day. Today is the birthday of Svante Arrhenius.

Who, you ask?

Oh, only the intellectual parent of the greenhouse gas theory, though he called it the “hot-house theory” — the idea that CO2 produced by industrial coal-burning could hang around in the atmosphere trapping heat, eventually bringing up Earth’s mean temperature by a coupla degrees.

Brilliant! Our hero! It doesn’t hurt that pioneering modern climate science was merely a hobby for ol’ Svante, carried out during down time from his real life’s work: exploring the connection between physics and chemistry, for which he won a Nobel prize in 1903.

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The only drawback is that the esteemed Dr. Arrhenius thought that anthropogenic climate change would lead to increased crop yields and nicer weather, and so did nothing to raise alarm over the willy-nilly incineration of millions of years worth of stored carbon. And now, look where we find ourselves: on a tiny polluted raft on a rising, acidifying sea of trouble.

So happy 156th, Svante! Sorry you turned out to be so right, and yet so wrong, about that whole climate change thing.

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