Glasgow COP-out: Ignoring Science for 165 Years

By Shlomo Maital

     Cop-out has come to mean an evasion — an escape from facing up to something.  It first appeared some 500 years ago in the Scots phrase “play cop out” where cop was equivalent to cup, meaning “playing empty the cup” or, frankly, boozing. 

     COP also stands for Conference of the Parties – the UN Climate Conference.  The latest one, the 26th !!!,  just ended in Glasgow, Scotland.  Given the origin of ‘cop out’  that site is appropriate.  The final declaration was an outright COPout.  And one word was key.  “Phase down” coal… instead of “phase out”. 

    How long have scientists know for sure that the carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels cause global warming and climate crisis?   

      The world has been aware for an exceptionally long time that carbon dioxide acts like a blanket, warming the world – in fact, since 1856, 164 years ago.  In that year, a remarkable woman scientist named Eunice Foote published the results of a clever experiment.   She filled glass jars with water vapor, carbon dioxide, and air, respectively, and compared how much they heated up in the sun.  “The highest effect of the sun’s rays I have found to be in carbonic acid gas (CO2),”  she reported, in The American Journal of Science   (Foote, 1856).

     In the 19th century, scientists realized that gases in the atmosphere cause a “greenhouse effect” which affects the planet’s temperature. These scientists were interested chiefly in the possibility that a lower level of carbon dioxide gas might explain the ice ages of the distant past. At the turn of the century, Svante Arrhenius calculated that emissions from human industry might someday bring a global warming.    

     The graph above shows two curves:  mean global temperature change (left hand scale) and atmospheric carbon dioxide ppm (right hand scale).  They coincide. 

      Humanity has ignored science for 165 years.  The anti-vax insanity is only a tiny footnote in this saga of self-destruction.  And it is not going to end well.