CO2 A Scientist, His Work and a Climate Reckoning


KEEPING WATCH  The Mauna Loa Observatory, at an altitude of 11,135 feet above sea level in Hawaii, has been continuously monitoring and collecting data related to climate change since the 1950s.  By JUSTIN GILLIS Published: December 21, 2010

KEEPING WATCH The Mauna Loa Observatory, at an altitude of 11,135 feet above sea level in Hawaii, has been continuously monitoring and collecting data related to climate change since the 1950s. By JUSTIN GILLIS

2010-12-21 NY Times
MAUNA LOA OBSERVATORY, Hawaii — Two gray machines sit inside a pair of utilitarian buildings here, sniffing the fresh breezes that blow across thousands of miles of ocean.They make no noise. But once an hour, they spit out a number, and for decades, it has been rising relentlessly.

The first machine of this type was installed on Mauna Loa in the 1950s at the behest of Charles David Keeling, a scientist from San Diego. His resulting discovery, of the increasing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, transformed the scientific understanding of humanity’s relationship with the earth. A graph of his findings is inscribed on a wall in Washington as one of the great achievements of modern science.

Yet, five years after Dr. Keeling’s death, his discovery is a focus not of celebration but of conflict. It has become the touchstone of a worldwide political debate over global warming.

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