Of Keeling and His Curve

Here’s an excellent survey of the work of Charles David Keeling, whose measurements of the CO2 in the atmosphere underlie the debate on global climate change. The article uses the history of his work as a framework for the history of that debate. Not wonkish, but a tad long for Generation tXt.

Two gray machines sit inside a pair of utilitarian buildings here, sniffing the fresh breezes that blow across thousands of miles of ocean.

They make no noise. But once an hour, they spit out a number, and for decades, it has been rising relentlessly.

The first machine of this type was installed on Mauna Loa in the 1950s at the behest of Charles David Keeling, a scientist from San Diego. His resulting discovery, of the increasing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, transformed the scientific understanding of humanity’s relationship with the earth. A graph of his findings is inscribed on a wall in Washington as one of the great achievements of modern science.

Yet, five years after Dr. Keeling’s death, his discovery is a focus not of celebration but of conflict. It has become the touchstone of a worldwide political debate over global warming.

A Scientist, His Work and a Climate Reckoning – NYTimes.com

Definitely worth the read.

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