Newspaper clipping from 1912 mentions link between burning coal and a warmer planet

A newspaper blurb published in a 1912 mentions a link between burning coal and a warmer Earth.

An Aug. 14, 1912, blurb in the New Zealand newspaper Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette, reads, “The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year. When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries.”

The headline reads: “Coal Consumption Affecting Climate Change.”

As reported, an image of the text was shared in 2016 on the Facebook page “Sustainable Business Network NZ.” It is also available in a newspaper archive on the National Library of New Zealand’s website.

The same blurb was published in an Australian newspaper in July 1912 and can also be found in an Australian online archive, reports, which says the clip actually dates back to March that year and an issue of the magazine Popular Mechanics.

As scientists have found, heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels, like coal, are the main drivers of climate change.

According to the International Energy Agency, coal today supplies one-third of all energy used worldwide. It also accounts for 40 percent of electricity generation.

“Despite legitimate concerns about air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, coal use will continue to be significant in the future,” the agency says.

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