Bright blue sky over dry field.

Kebimbangan Iklim selama Lima Puluh Tahun

SYDNEY – Pada bulan November 1965, Presiden Amerika Serikat Lyndon B. Johnson menerima laporan pemerintah pertama yang memperingatkan bahaya yang diakibatkan oleh pembakaran bahan bakar fosil dalam jumlah besar. Lima puluh tahun termasuk waktu yang lama dalam politik, sehingga sungguh menakjubkan betapa sedikitnya upaya yang dilakukan sejak saat itu untuk mengatasi ancaman, dengan tetap menjalankan business as usual.

Dengan uraian yang prediktif, komite penasihat ilmiah Presiden Johnson memperingatkan bahwa pelepasan karbon dioksida ke atmosfer akan menyebabkan kenaikan suhu global yang lebih tinggi, lapisan es mencair dan permukaan air laut meningkat pesat. “Manusia tanpa disadari melakukan eksperimen geofisika secara besar-besaran,” para ilmuwan memperingatkan. “Selama beberapa generasi manusia membakar bahan bakar fosil yang secara perlahan bertumpuk di bumi selama 500 juta tahun terakhir…perubahan-perubahan iklim yang dihasilkan oleh kenaikan kadar karbon dioksida akan berbahaya dari sudut pandang manusia.”

Ramalan komite ini tidak mengejutkan; keberadaan efek gas rumah kaca telah dikenal dalam ilmu pengetahuan sejak fisikawan Perancis Joseph Fourier mengemukakan pada tahun 1824 bahwa atmosfer bumi berfungsi sebagai insulator yang membatasi penghantaran panas. Dan pada tahun 1859, fisikawan Irlandia John Tyndall dilakukan percobaan laboratorium yang menunjukkan kekuatan pemanasan karbon dioksida yang kemudian mengarahkan fisikawan Swedia dan penerima Nobel, Svante Arrhenius, untuk memprediksi bahwa pembakaran batubara akan menghangatkan bumi – satu hal yang ia pandang sebagai potensi perkembangan yang positif.

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