The Weather Is Really Changing (In 1953) (plus Attributions and CO2)

Yes it’s another old New York Times article, this time from July 12, 1953. Stories of unusual weather, retreating ice caps, extreme events (at the time it was tornadoes). Yada yada yada.

Couple of interesting details. Journalist Leonard Engel provides a list of past attributions to human activities:

Unusual weather  inevitably stirs up speculation as to the cause, in part, no doubt, because we like to talk about the weather anyway. And prominent event coincident with the exceptional weather is apt to be blamed. Heavy rains during World War I were popularly attributed to artillery bombardments in France. During the Twenties and Thirties it was fashionably to lay abnormal weather (along with other odd occurrences) to changes in the sunspot cycle. Today the popular villains  of freak weather are atom-bomb tests and the activities of rainmakers.

Engel mentions also greenhouse gases and in particular the concentration of CO2

In 1850 the air contained somewhat less than thirty parts of carbon dioxide per 1,000 parts of air. In the hundred years since, industrialized, urbanized man has poured unprecedented quantities of carbon dioxide out of home and factory chimneys […] As a result, there are now thirty-three parts of the gas per 1,000 in the atmosphere instead of thirty.

Assuming Engel was just victim of some conversion mistake, and he meant 330ppm, it is curious to note that the figure is somewhat off Keeling’s original 1955 value of 310ppm.