In his last attempt to disprove global warming, John C Wright has pointed out that he doesn’t know who discovered global warming.
” Again, who is the scientist who discovered Global Warming?” http://www.scifiwright.com/2017/07/last-crusade-unearned-laurels/
Arguably it isn’t the most illogical argument he has used in his on going struggle against reality nor even is it his silliest. It requires both a simplistic view of science, where each discovery has one and only one owner and an elevation of his own ignorance to the status of a counter-argument.
So, firstly, mapping single individuals to distinct discoveries is a simplification, intended to make the history of science easier to follow. Yes, Charles Darwin wrote the Origin of Species and hence is a central figure in the theory of evolution by natural selection but his genius was not solitary.
Still, maybe global warming is still somehow unusual in this regard. Maybe Wright has some sort of point that the theory just popped out of nowhere. Yeah, but no. It really is as simple as Wright being intentionally ignorant and then claiming that his own ignorance demonstrates a flaw in global warming as an idea.
So, who did ‘discover’ global warming, given the basic caveats of all such discoveries being upon the shoulders of giants/research communities. Well, firstly what is the thing being discovered? It can be broken down into several parts:
- the Earth’s surface is warmer than would be expected (i.e. there is some kind of ‘greenhouse’* like effect)
- the atmosphere is what makes it warmer
- some gases in the atmosphere must be ‘greenhouse gases’ and play a role in keeping Earth warm (of which water vapour is the biggest culprit)
- Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas
- If you increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere then average surface temperatures should increase all other things being equal
- This is actually happening
- 1820s Joseph Fourier – noted the discrepancy in surface temperatures https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Fourier#Discovery_of_the_greenhouse_effect
- 1850s John Tyndall – investigated the way atmospheric gases absorbed radiant heat (i.e. infra red ) from which he found water vapour was a greenhouse gas https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Tyndall
- 1890s Svante Arrhenius found that CO2 was a greenhouse gas and hypothesised that additional CO2 in the atmosphere would lead to temperature increases https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius#Greenhouse_effect
- 1950s onward David Keeling’s measurements of atmospheric CO2 demonstrated that levels where increasing
So, in the unlikely event that John C Wright ever reads this, now he knows who ‘discovered’ global warming.
*[No, greenhouses don’t work that way exactly – the name is a metaphor]