top of page

Century Old Prescient Headline

‘Coal Consumption Affecting Climate.’ That is the headline of a short article that appeared in a New Zealand newspaper not this week, month or even year but more than a hundred years ago, in August 1912.

Text of article in NZ newspaper in 1912
Stuff Ltd/Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ

The 10-line news-in-brief in the Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette, says that in the early 20th century the world was burning around two billion tons of coal a year.

That combustion, it continues, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making the air “a more effective blanket” for the earth raising its temperature. “This effect may be considerable in a few centuries,” it warns. More than a century later, climate scientists say the planet has warmed by around 1.2C since the late 1800s, and is continuing to heat as humans emit more greenhouse gases primarily by burning fossil fuels.

It just goes to show that knowledge of the impact of coal on Earth's climate is not new science. At least now it's being taken seriously and coal mining is now in rapid decline, with numerous countries already completely abandoning it or just about to do so. The end of coal is nigh.

bottom of page