World of Thermo… Story 13… Gettin’ Colder

By the middle of the 20th century conditions were warming across the planet, perhaps getting so warm, Carbo thought to himself, that the humans would notice. The dust bowl days of the 1930s in the United States were a big change. He thought, “Hmm we must not let these stupid frogs and tadpoles get too hot lest they jump.” He turned to his hench molecules Toasty and Roasty and said, “What can we do so that the humans will release more of our friends and not be noticed? Once their climate scientists see the warming trend that our kind has started, I’m afraid that humans will turn towards different sources of energy for their power, and we can’t have that.”

Roasty said, “Duh, doesn’t enough soot from coal block out the sun and cool things down?”

Carbo responded, “Brilliant, you idiot, we’ll just keep the humans burning more coal for their electricity without using any filters to keep the air from getting polluted. We can use our psychic powers to prevent engineers from learning new technology to clean those smoke stacks. Besides, those humans will be too dull-witted to change their habits anyway.”

Carbo, Roasty, and Toasty along with others of their kind kept buzzing in and out of engineer’s  brains preventing most of them from coming up with plans and blueprints for scrubbers to clean up smoke stacks in most countries well into the 1960s. Finally, the public complained of soot and smog in places like Los Angeles, California and Birmingham, England so much that Carbo’s minions were drowned out by the voices of reason, and scrubbers were put on most smoke stacks, but the trick worked. The planet did have a slight cooling trend from about the end of World War II into the 1970s, which did fool some climatologists into believing that an ice age was imminent.  All the while more carbon was being pumped into the air from the burning of fossil fuels releasing more of Carbo’s friends. Through the 1970s the general public was oblivious to those few that believed that the world would eventually get warmer through the greenhouse effect due to carbon pollution.

________________________________________________

In the real world one climatologist who changed his mind was Stephen Schneider who had postulated that the world would cool down due to increased pollution termed aerosols (including soot) in a paper from 1971. Mr. Schneider recanted his findings in a scientific paper from 1975 correcting his findings from the earlier paper.  The scientific method is a crucible of truth, which lets scientist correct prior errors.

I can remember that back in my high school days in the late 1970s there were two very cold back to back winters, that of 1976 into 1977 and 1977 into 1978. It was so cold in January 1977 that some of the school systems in Atlanta, including DeKalb County, the one in which my high school Stone Mountain was located, closed for a week due to a lack of natural gas. Minimums in Atlanta got into the single digits to near zero several times from November 1976 through January 1977. Numerous record lows were set across the eastern U.S. President Carter’s inauguration in January 1977 was one of the coldest inaugural ceremonies in U.S. history. No wonder that some climatologists and the general public thought that an ice age was imminent.  Time Magazine even did a headline story on the coming ice age that, unfortunately, climate change denialists refer from to this day.

The text and artwork are copyright Guy Walton.

Artwork is by my friend, Alyssa Josue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *