Greenhouse: The 200-Year Story of Global Warming

By Gale E. Christianson | Go to book overview

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This has been the biography of an idea, or rather, I should say, the partial biography, for its subject is very much alive and gives every indication of remaining so for a long time to come. How long, one wonders, will it take before the riddle of global warming is resolved beyond any reasonable doubt? Certainly not the 15 billion years that passed before the universe whispered to Copernicus that Earth is a planet circling a star, or the 4 billion years Earth took to reveal its ancient origins to Hutton and Lyell. As in times past, scientists find themselves in much the same position as historians who are asked to render judgment on the period in which they live. As Sir Francis Bacon observed long ago, we are dancers in the ring, unable to see the beginning, the middle, or the end. There are clues, connections to be made, but when will the moment of certitude come -- tomorrow, next year, a decade hence? When?

As I write this page, it is six months since the Kyoto Summit. After an unusually mild and almost snowless winter, courtesy of El Niño, spring has come to Indiana. I feel the urge to plant something, perhaps a tree, and drive with my wife to the local nursery to take stock of the saplings. While she busies herself with the bedding plants, I stroll alone among the red

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