Jimmy Carter’s scientific advisor – warned the White House about the climate crisis in 1977

This US memo from 1977 was declassified a few days ago. Our political leaders have known for decades.
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Subject: Release of Fossil CO2 and the Possibility of a Catastrophic Climate Change
Fossil fuel combustion has increased at an exponential rate over the last 100 years. As a result, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is now 12 percent above the pre-industrial revolution level and may grow to 1.5 to 2.0 times that level within 60 years. Because of the .greenhouse effect" of atmospheric CO, the increased concentration will induce a global climatic warming of anywhere from 0.5° to 5°C. To place this i perspective, an increase of 5°C would exceed in 60 years the normal temperature swing between an ice age and a warm period which takes place over tens of thousands of years.
The potential effect on the environment of a climatic fluctuation of such rapidity could be catastrophic and calls for an impact assessment of unprecedented importance and difficulty. A rapid climatic change may result in large scale crop failures at a time when an increased world population taxes agriculture to the limits of productivity. The urgency of the problem derives from our inability to shift rapidly to non-fossil fuel sources once the climatic effects become evident not long after the year 2000; the situation could grow out of control before alternate energy sources and other remedial actions become effective. Natural dissipation of CO, would not occur for a millenium after fossil fuel combustion was markedly reduced.
As you know this is not a new issue. What is new is the growing weight of scientific support which raises the CO2-climate impact from speculation to a serious hypothesis worthy of a response that is neither complacent nor panicky. The authoratative National Academy of Sciences has just alerted us that it will issue a public statement along these lines in a few weeks.
The present state of knowledge does not justify emergency action to limit the consumption of fossil fuels in the near term. However, I believe that we most now take the potential CO2 hazard into account in developing our long-term energy stragegy. Beyond conservation, we must be prepared to exploit nuclear energy more fully. As insurance against over-reliance o a nuclear energy economy, we should emphasize targeted basic research which could lead to breakthroughs for solar electric, biomass conversion or other renewable energy sources. I an already working with OMB and other Federal agencies on a national climate research program which would lead to a better assessment of the CO2 hazard. If you agree, I will work with OMB, ERDA, FEA, and NSF on alternate strategies for R&D, responsive to a possible CO2 hazard.

  • Mik Aidt

    107 w

    Ingmar, thank you. It is good to be reminded about again and again! But where did you pick up that this was just released? Amy Westervelt wrote about it in August 2019, see See also

    • Ingmar Rentzhog

      107 w

      Khattabi Zakia, the Climate minister in Belgium wrote that on LinkedIn.

    • zelda ninga

      108 w

      Ignorance at its highest level

      • Marine Stephan

        108 w

        Fossil fuel companies knew. Governments knew. And yet, they didn't act (and still don't act)...

        • Ingmar Rentzhog

          108 w

          @marine_stephan It is worse. They have done a lot to play down the risk and hide the facts from the public.

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