Svante Arrhenius, the man who (almost) understood what burning coal was going to do to us

Special issue “Thinking about ecology”

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It is a prophecy that has aged terribly badly. “As a result of the increase in carbonic acid in the air, we can hope for periods which will offer mankind more equal temperatures and milder climatic conditions. » These words full of optimism – or candor – come neither from a figure of the fossil fuel lobby nor from a patent climatosceptic. They were written in 1906, in “The Evolution of the Worlds” (translated into French in 1910), by a renowned scientist who won a Nobel Prize three years earlier: Svante Arrhenius. These warmer periods, rejoiced this Swedish chemist, “will enable the soil to produce considerably larger crops than it does today.”

50 years ago, what Total knew about the impact of its activities on global warming

Global warming, guarantee of a bright future and a more comfortable life? On reading these writings dating back a little over a century, it would be tempting to make this scientist one of the symbols of human blindness. Except that the character deserves better than what these few lines suggest. A jack-of-all-trades and iconoclast researcher, Svante Arrhenius has also and above all distinguished himself by his intuitions

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