Photo courtesy of the G.S. Callendar Archive,
University of East Anglia.
Seeing the light
G.S. Callendar and carbon dioxide theory of climate change
The Climate Change Bill is going to Parliament soon, and this month (November 2007) we look at climate change and the solar alternative to fossil fuels. This includes links to selected websites and a brief bibliography.
Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964), a noted steam engineer and amateur meteorologist, revived the 19th century carbon dioxide theory of climate change in 1938 with the publication of his paper "The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and its Influence on Temperature".
Although an amateur, Callendar was working from his home in West Sussex on a truly gobal scale analysing world data and formulating a coherent theory of infrared absorption by trace gases.
Through World War II he published two papers while working on technical problems (including infrared absorption) with the Ministry of Supply. In 1944 climatologist Gordon Manley noted Callendar's valuable contributions to the study of climatic change. A decade later, Gilbert Plass and Charles Keeling consulted with Callendar as they began their research programs. Just before the beginning of the International Geophysical Year in 1957, Hans Seuss and Roger Revelle referred to the 'Callendar effect', defined as climatic change brought about by anthropogenic increases in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, primarily through the processes of combustion. In other words, caused by the use of fossil fuels.
The G.S. Callendar Archive contains some 95 notebooks (1936-1964) and documents containing data, charts, notes, readings and formulae concerning temperature and climate as far back as 1751 and in locations across the world; letters, reviews and many candid insights into the state of climate science between 1936 and 1964.
The family papers include photographs, personal correspondence, reprints, historical reappraisals, biographical material (some relating to Callendar’s father - physics Professor H.L. Callendar); and papers relating to Callendar’s war work, including FIDO (Fog Investigation Dispersal Operation), 1942-1946, and to his time with the Armament Design Establishment, 1950-1956.
A digitised version of the archive is available for purchase from the Royal Meteorological Society. This is sold separately as a companion guide to James Rodger Fleming The Callendar Effect: Life and Work of Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964), the Scientist who Established the Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climate Change. American Meteorological Society, 2007.
- Bridget Gillies, University of East Anglia Archives Assistant.
- Harold Heywood (1905-1971): engineer and physicist; began researching solar energy in the 1940s at Imperial College London; author of Report on the utilization of solar energy, 1957.
- Nevill Francis Mott (1905-1996): Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist; interested in energy questions, especially the development of solar energy.
- Solly Zuckerman (1904-1993): as a member of the Ministry of Fuel and Power Scientific Advisory Council, 1948-1955, Zuckerman was involved in research into solar energy, tidal and wind power, and energy conservation.
- BP Solar: the oil and gas company diversified into solar energy in the 1970s with B.P. Solar, which is now one of the world's largest solar energy companies
- The Callendar Effect: review of James Rodger Fleming's recent book, which is avaliable from the Royal Meteorological Society.
- Think solar not nuclear: researchers argue for photovoltaics, the direct conversion of sunlight to electricity (Imperial College London website)
- National Meteorological Library and Archive: based in Exeter, and with an online catalogue
- Met Office: Climate change: the UK's national weather service is researching climate change
- Climate Challenge: educational initiative (Defra website)
- Act On CO2: tips and advice on reducing emissions from your car (Department for Transport website)
- The Carbon Trust: helps businesses and the public sector cut carbon emissions, and supports the development of low carbon technologies.
- Energy Saving Trust: a non-profit organisation, funded both by government and the private sector; impartial information and advice for you to take action.
- Centre for Alternative Technology (Machynlleth, Wales): practical ways of addressing energy problems, with visitor centre, and offering training and postgraduate courses.
- Nobel Peace Prize: the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded jointly to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore.
- Get tough on the Climate Change Bill: the UK Parliament is debating the Climate Change Bill, which aims for a 60% cut in UK carbon emissions by 2050, but we need at least an 80% reduction (Christian Aid website)
[ Archives Hub Blog: Some are weather wise...
Where possible links are provided to records on Copac for these items. Copac is the free, web based national union catalogue, containing the holdings of many of the major university and National Libraries in UK and Ireland plus a number of special libraries. For more information about accessing items see the FAQs on the Copac website.
- Fleming, J.R. (2007) The Callendar Effect: the life and work of Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964) Amer Meteor Soc Records on Copac
- Fleming, James R (1998) Historical Perspectives on Climate Change Records on Copac
- Heywood, Harold (1957) Report on the utilization of solar energy Records on Copac
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