Feeling the Heat

Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast News majored on The Great Distraction this morning – the Premier League season kicks off this evening – but earlier this week I was shocked to hear Climate Change mentioned. What? Hothouse Earth, 200 feet of sea-level rise, some parts of the globe uninhabitable? Auntie rarely touches this subject and I wondered if these predictions were Project Fear offerings,

But no, it was just a 20-second piece triggered by a new scientific paper released by Stockholm Resilience. (A PDF can be freely downloaded.)

It took about 70 years for a Frenchman, an Irishman, and a Swede to explain that it would be no joke to pump unnatural amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Joseph FOURIER “discovered” the greenhouse effect in 1824, John TYNDALL carried out experiments beginning in 1858 and Svante Arrhenius supplied quantitative data in 1896.

The path to Hell on Earth is clear now. It just requires humankind to do a collective about turn. Homo sapiens appears, though, to have a death wish.

1850_TYNDALLjohn2_PnkPDJohn TYNDALL looks rather slight in this portrait, made about 1853 by an unknown photographer (and in the public domain). He was, however, a strong, adventurous young man, known as much for mountaineering exploits as his scientific achievements. He didn’t marry until he was 55 years old. His wife, Louisa Charlotte HAMILTON was just thirty but the couple doesn’t appear to have produced children. John endured ill health as he entered his seventies and in early December 1893, Louisa made a mistake when giving him his night-time medication. He remarked upon the sweet taste of the sulfate of magnesia he was expecting and Louisa realized she had instead given him chloral. When she told him he said, “My poor darling, you have killed your John.” At the inquest, a verdict of accidental death was recorded and much sympathy afforded to Louisa.

John died at Hindhead House in Surrey and there is a photograph of his grave in the Francis Frith Collection. His name and achievements are more grandly represented in The Tyndall Centre in Manchester where, among the many scientists and engineers investigating climate change and global warming there are two of my favorite “explainers”, Kevin ANDERSON and Alice BOWS-LARKIN.

John Tyndall came from a humble background and this is reflected in the brevity of his male line on FamilySearch Tree. (One source claims a connection to William TYNDALE of Bible fame.) Louisa was from “the upper crust” and amongst her noble forebears, you will see a  number of the BOWES family going back to William (1389-1465).

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