Climate science is first and foremost an old and well-established science, which dates back to the 19th century. It has recently been considered at a revolutionary stage in its lifespan because of emerging climate crises and its efforts to combat them. With a political feud brewing over the world climate in this day and age, Climate Science may very well be the key to addressing the controversy in a way that can get people to accept scientific facts.
Like all sciences, Climate science was born from curiosity. In particular, scientists of the 19th century were driven by their curiosities to inquire about strange phenomena such as “erratics” and the surface temperature of the earth. Sightings of scratch marks in sediment sheets and boulders in unnatural environments were cause for suspicion. The scientists of the time pursued answers and explanations to satisfy their curiosity, ultimately gathering evidence for a historical climate of Earth that included periods in which the planet was covered by large ice sheets. Powerful glaciers were answers for the scratch marks and “erratics” that scientists had observed, however the question of what caused such Ice Ages to occur remained unanswered. Milutin Milankovic was the man who ultimately solved Earth’s drastic climate changes, as he argued that the Ice Ages were a result of the planet’s changing position in relation to the Sun. His theory, now known as Milankovic cycles, is evidence for over 14 glacial cycles in the past six hundred thousand years, as well as a predictor of future glacial cycles.
Curiosities and pursuits of curiosities such as the previous example have occurred as a part of Climate Science since the 19th century. For instance in 1824 Jean Fourier theorized that the temperature of the Earth’s surface is able to sustain life, because heat from the sun passes easily through the atmosphere and heat radiation from the Earth’s core has a hard time leaving the atmosphere. Basically, he proposed that the atmosphere functioned similarly to a greenhouse. John Tyndall serves as another example for good measure. His experiments with gases and the amount of radiation specific ones absorbed yielded very interesting results. He found that oxygen, nitrogen and argon (99% of the atmosphere) are almost totally transparent to solar and terrestrial radiation. Trivial gases like water vapor and carbon dioxide in fact absorbed radiation more radiation, despite the fact they make up a negligible fraction of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Curiosity was the origin of Climate Science, however in such a critical time in the planet’s climate history I don’t think it will suffice as a means to improvement. Earth’s temperatures are rising, sea level is rising, and Climate Science needs to revolutionize from a science of curiosity to an assertive science that people acknowledge as just as legitimate as any other. The Earth’s climate is changing, and it is up to Climate Science to determine the consequences of these changes, and to work with political parties to take appropriate measures to address them. Modern climate changes have been proven to be man made problems. While such a thought is somber, there is also hope, in that man-made problems have man-made solutions.