Remember when a young Barry Jones became known as the ‘National Quiz King of Australia’?
Barry was a Melbourne school teacher and became a household name in the 1960s when he won the title of national quiz champion on Bob Dyer’s BP ‘Picka-Box’ show on Channel 7 in the days of black-and-white television. He turned to federal politics in 1997 and was Minister for Science from 1983 to 1990 and national president of the Australian Labor Party from 1992 to 2000.
In 2011 Barry wrote an article for The Conversation. An extract follows:
“The science of climate change is robust, and not particularly recent.
In 1824, the French mathematician Joseph Fourier anticipated what we came to call “the Greenhouse effect”, arguing that surface heat on Earth was maintained by the atmosphere. Without it, he said, the Earth’s orbit was too remote from the Sun for a temperature which could support life.
In 1859, the Irish physicist John Tyndall identified the role of water vapour, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO₂) and methane (CH4). He found these were key factors in maintaining temperature, despite their tiny proportion of the total atmosphere.
In 1896 the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius named “the Greenhouse effect”. He calculated the relationship between changes in CO₂ levels and atmospheric temperature with astonishing accuracy.
In 1925 the prodigious American statistician Alfred James Lotka (1880-1949), described what we now call “anthropogenic climate change”.
Industrial exploitation changed the impact of the carbon cycle, releasing in decades carbon (coal and oil) which had been laid down over millions of years. This seriously disturbed the environmental balance. Each tonne of coal produces three tonnes of CO₂on burning. “
Thanks for the research Barry! There is nothing like a thoughtful look at the past to inform our understanding and planning for the future.