In 1859, an Irish scientist named John Tyndall built the world’s first ratio spectrophotometer and identified the natural “greenhouse effect” that makes life possible on planet Earth. This effect is enhanced to a hazard when excess carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere. This is the basic premise behind climate change science, policy, and adaptation.
Almost century later (1958), Charles David Keeling put up an instrument to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at the Mauna Loa National Observatory in Hawaii. The consequence of both of these scientists’ work is a host of studies of the climate and a new consensus that the status of climate change is a result of rising atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions since the Industrial Revolution. Monitoring the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is probably the single most important job for climate science. Why? Because current climate science identifies climatic “thresholds” that tip the world’s climate from one status to another. Knowing how much CO2 is there now and how much has been tells us when changes might occur.
A website called CO2Now was started to pull that data out of the scientific literature and put it in a handy format for the public to view. They’ve even developed some nifty “widgets” to allow for websites to track and publish that data month to month. I’ve posted one here, above. I have also added one of the site’s smaller widgets to the right side of this blog.