Raise a glass to Gilbert Plass

"Yes, it’s true.  It was a Canadian who figured it out first. In 1953, Time magazine wrote a story about a Canadian scientist named Gilbert Plass, then working at John Hopkins University, and  his claim that the spreading envelope of carbon dioxide around the Earth would serve as a ‘great greenhouse’. Plass had published his ideas in a paper titled: The carbon dioxide theory of climate change.


Over the next decade, the scientific basis for Plass’ theory came to be accepted as sound science. Even President Johnson was persuaded. In a special message to the US Congress in 1965, he said: “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through … a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”


For the major oil companies this was not a welcome message.  They couldn’t shoot the messenger, but could the message be lost in translation?  So began a concerted campaign by the oil companies of manufacturing uncertainty and doubt about the science of global warming that has lasted until the present day. Baffled by the conflicting scientific assessments, many of which were being published by front organisations in the pocket of the oil companies and their petrochemical allies, public opinion never fully grasped the real reasons behind global warming. Politicians delayed any action until the science was ‘settled’.  Which of course companies like Exxon ensured it never was."


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