Most agree from the evidence that climate change probably began at the start of the Industrial Revolution. This is when machines were invented that ran on fossil fuels like oil, coal, and methane, and emitted greenhouse gases as waste products. These gases increase the amounts in the atmosphere that are emitted normally through the biological carbon cycle. However, a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that core samples of ice dated to about 8,000 to 10,000 years ago contain large amounts of greenhouse gases above the usual amounts. This is way before the start of the Industrial Revolution. In tonight’s special pledge drive edition of the Perpetual Notion Machine, our guest is one of the authors of the report Steve Vavrus, Senior Scientist with UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research. Steve tells PNM’s Will Cushman that other ice samples dated in the interglacial period (about 100,000 years ) of our current Holocene period had very stable levels of greenhouse gases. Steve and his colleagues surmise that the increase in greenhouse gases at that time could only be due to one major activity, and that could only be the advancement of agriculture.
For more information check out this article from UW-Madison’s News Department, which has a link to the study.