1769 James Watt patents his steam engine.

John Tyndall builds the world's first ratio spectrophotometer and tests the absorptive properties of atmospheric gases.


Svante Arrhenius completes his calculations on varying CO2 levels.


Atmospheric CO2 levels are 290 parts per million.


CFCs are invented.

1955 Gilbert Plass proposes that adding more CO2 to the atmosphere would contribute to warming the planet.
1958 CO2 measuring equipment is installed at the Mauna Loa Observatory
1959 Atmospheric CO2 levels are 315 parts per million
1966 Golden Toad is first discovered in The Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Coast Rica
1970 Paul Crutzen warns that human actions may damage the ozone layer.

The National Academy of Sciences issues its first major report on Global Warming: "We may not be given a warning until the CO2 loading is such than an appreciable climate change is inevitable."


Atmospheric CO2 levels are 337 parts per million

1987 Golden Toad becomes the first species declared extinct due to global warming.
1987 The Montreal Protocol is adapted. Phaseout of CFCs begins.
1988 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) is established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme.
1992 President George H. W. Bush signs the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro.
1995 The IPPC issues its Second Assessment Report: "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible influence on global climate."
1997 The Kyoto Protocol is drafted
1998 Average glogal Temperatures for the year are the warmest on record.
2000 Presidential candidate George W. Bush calls global warming an "issue we need to take very seriously."
2000 Atmospheric CO2 levels are 369 parts per million

The IPPC issues its Third Assessment Report: "Most of the warming observed over the last fifty years is attributable to human activities."

A report by the National Research Council requested by President Bush states: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising."

President Bush announces that the United States is withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol.

2001 Third warmest year on record
2002 Larsen B ice shelf collapses
2002 Second warmest year on record

Senator James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, says he has "compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax."

The American geophysical Union issues a consensus statement asserting: "Natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures."

2003 Atmospheric CO2 levels are 376 parts per million
2003 Second warmest year on record (tying with 2002)
2004 Kyoto Protocol is ratified by Russia.
2004 Fourth warmest year on record

Extent of melt on the Greenland ice sheet reaches a record maximum.

Arctic sea ice reaches a record minimum; researchers warn sea could be ice-free in summer "well before the end of the century."

Kyoto Protocol goes into effect.

The National Academy of Sciences of the eight major industrialized nations issue a joint statement: "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action."

2006 Al Gore's film AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH is one of the top grossing documentaries of all time.
2006 Bush administration considers the Polar Bear for the Endangered species list.
2006 The warmest year on record (tying with 1998)

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., surrenders the gavel to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Hope springs eternal.

2012 Global Warming as an issue is covered less by the media than in 2007. No Republican candidate for the presidency acknowledges the threat. America is in denial.
2012 CO2 levels: 391.80 ppm check out the latest numbers




based extensively on the Chronology provided in Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert