People were certainly warned in plenty of time to do something about climate change. The first theories regarding industrial pollutants creating wide spread climatological change dates back to the 19th century when researchers tried to solve the mystery of the ice ages. However, with inescapable observations about carbon dioxide measurements, the picture of where it all comes and goes on a global scale began to materialize.
But, what a tough sell! The consequences were so very dire, and a worldwide effort to change the basis of an economy out of little more than force of will is a tall order. However, that's exactly what would now appear to be happening, in fits and starts, all over the world. While there is certainly plenty of work to be done, that some has started is a welcome change to many who have been beating the drum for decades trying to get anyone in a position of authority to take their warnings seriously.
With the same sort of effort that was expended during the Second World War, climate change is a challenge that can be tackled with cooperative effort. Even as related challenges would conspire to make that already daunting task even more difficult, innovation and cooperation are perhaps the most important ways to get out of it without taking all life on Earth with us.
HISTORY OF CLIMATE CHANGE
The climate is not a stable thing. It is now understood that it goes through “seasonal” fluctuations that last for thousands of years at a time. Moreover,the relationship between the land, sea, atmosphere and the heavenly bodies is now being explored in even greater depth. Human beings now know what the climate has been like for longer than there's been human beings, but the mechanisms by which the delicate balance of our seemingly chaotic climate are still being worked out.
Though the mechanism by which greenhouse gases can have a profound impact on climate has been understood for far longer than the massive impact of an exponentially growing population on gas emissions. Though the ramifications are far better understood now, new discoveries are made every year.
In some ways, tinkering with the climate now is like performing brain surgery with an ice pick, but something has to happen, if only to hold things steady until something is figured out. Much of the study of classical climatological science sought to describe the constituent parts of the atmosphere and find reasons for historical climate events, such as the ice ages that were documented in the mid 19th century. Work in the 20th century sought to explain where atmospheric gasses come from, what they do and where they may go. It is perhaps ironic that humankind was already hip deep in some of the major atmospheric problems before anyone even knew how those systems worked.
Many climate scientists in the mid-20th century were tasked with tracking the atmospheric changes as a result of atmospheric nuclear tests. While their evidence led to the banning of such tests within a decade, several other puzzling and worrying trends began to emerge. Along with the scourges of smog and acid rain that were brought to the word's attention, climate change was just too terrible to be true.
The International Panel on Climate Change was created in 1988 to study whether there was a scientific consensus regarding the impact of human activities on the climate, including the warming already observed at that time. By 2000, the evidence was clear enough for a report to be issued stating that the debate was officially over.
Of course it took several more years for the debate to be truly over. A very small number of researchers who were willing to go on record with their version of events that could possibly be effecting “global warming” without the added influence of carbon dioxide, have received quite a bit of “face time” from North American media.