The headline of an article published in Pittsburgh Magazine posed the question “Can Pittsburgh Save The Planet?”
That’s because from September 21-23 thousands of researchers, business leaders and politicians from more than 30 countries were in Pittsburgh to attend the Global Clean Energy Action Forum.
It was hosted by the Department of Energy in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University and is a follow up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference held last year in Glasgow, Scotland.
Attendees at this forum are looking to create mashups of entrepreneurship, innovation, and manufacturing to accelerate the production of clean energy.
Pittsburgh was once the most vilified city in America for polluting the air and water. It was known for the foul, gray sky that seemed to shroud the city, caused by steel production and coal mining.
But Pittsburgh has been working hard to transform itself, cutting emissions by 38%. Allegheny County closed its last coal-fired power plant. It’s working on creating a hub for renewable energy.
Experts currently claim if nothing changes, within 60 years the climate of Pittsburgh will be 10 degrees warmer and 45% wetter in winter. All of which would cause massive flooding as Pittsburgh is surrounded by three rivers. Experts say the planet is now at a crucial state.
In hindsight, it is interesting to take a look at what experts have been saying.
In 1896 a Swedish scientist named Svante Arrhenius first predicted that changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would substantially alter the earth’s surface temperature.
In 1938 the English engineer and inventor, Guy Callender, developed that theory and linked rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to global temperature and indicated that the Earth’s land temperature had increased over the previous 50 years.
Callender thought the warming was beneficial, as it would delay a return to glacial temperatures.
In 1970 The Boston Globe published an article in which scientists predicted that by the 21st century air pollution would obliterate the sun and we would be in a new ice age.
In 1971 The Washington Post published an article in which atmospheric scientists predicted that within 50 years (that would be in 2021) we would be in a massive cooling where overall temperatures would drop by at least six degrees.
In 1972 Brown University Department of Geological Sciences presented results of a study that showed the present rate of global cooling would produce glacial temperatures within a century. They claimed the trend showed no signs of reversing.
Just three years later, in 1975, Columbia University geochemist Wallace Broecker first used the term “global warming” as an alert that the earth’s surface temperature was rising due to greenhouse gas emissions. In just three years the experts went from global cooling with glacial temperatures to global warming.
In 1989 U.N. environmental officials sounded the alarm for rising sea levels caused by global warming. In 2006, in his film An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore claimed that steps needed to be taken to reverse global warming and climate change within 10 years or the world would be at a point of no return.
In 2020 a team of 25 climate scientists revealed an assessment conducted through the World Climate Research Program that supports a global warming trend with many different scenarios by 2060 depending on various actions taken.
Their findings are in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a leading group assessing climate science as it relates to the impact on ecosystems, biodiversity, human communities, capacities, vulnerabilities, and adaptability to change at all levels from regional to global.
But none of the experts actually know if we are at a point of no return. Who and what do you believe?
“Science is made up of mistakes, but they are useful mistakes because they lead, little by little, to the truth.”Jules Verne
If you enjoyed this blog and know someone else who would enjoy it, please share it.