Saturday, Oct. 24 is an incredibly important holiday for environmental activists across the globe, International Day of Climate Action. While we'll be especially appreciative of all Mother Earth has done for us — despite the havoc we've wreaked on her atmosphere and natural lands for years now — we'll also be commemorating and appreciating the brave activists who pioneered the climate action movement from the very beginning.
Lo and behold, we've compiled an extensive historical recount of our of global climate action over the years, to celebrate (and simultaneously mourn) the international holiday.
Who first identified climate change?
One of the very first climate change models was actually constructed by an amateur scientist named Guy Callendar in the early 1930s, according to WIRED. He started collecting measurements of atmospheric gases, looking at the affects of fossil fuels, and making notes about the ocean's currents, temperature, and rainfall worldwide. He ultimately created the first rough draft of a modern-day climate model, and in 1938, he discovered that humankind's carbon emissions were raising the earth's temperatures.
Callendar presented his findings to a panel of climate scientists at the Royal Meteorological Society, and was promptly shut down, because at the time, carbon dioxide levels in the air were low, and the idea seemed outlandish. However, Callendar kept researching what he called the "Callendar effect," looking at small increases in temperature, which he thought would postpone the return of the ice age. Sadly, he died in 1964, with not much progress under his belt.
In the early 1970s, rumors sparked regarding humankind's negative effect on the environment, according to Scientific American. Climate curiosity started morphing into anxiety and concern, and the greenhouse effect was eventually established and defined by a handful of scientists. They noted the industrial age had "put dust and smog into the atmosphere," which could block the Earth's sunlight, thus inching closer to what climate change really is.
A NASA astronaut ultimately spearheaded the movement years later.
In 1988, NASA researcher James E. Hansen sounded the alarm for global warming, according to The Guardian, by testifying before the U.S. Senate about climate change's potential effects. At the time, environmentalist Senator Tim Wirth backed him up, and scheduled a hearing on the hottest day on record to prove his point. There, Hansen laid out how weather has changed across the globe, pointing to carbon dioxide as the culprit.
“With 99 percent confidence we can state that the warming during this time period is a real warming trend,” he said at the panel. "Carbon dioxide is changing our climate now.”
To this day, the 79-year-old astronaut has continued to speak out about global warming, and notes our failure to address it as a nation.
“All we’ve done is agree there’s a problem,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Guardian. “We haven’t acknowledged what is required to solve it. Promises like Paris [Accord] don’t mean much, it’s wishful thinking. It’s a hoax that governments have played on us since the 1990s.”
Al Gore was one of the first politicians to push the environmental movement forward.
Former Vice President Al Gore, is considered to be one of the first politicians to push the environmental movement forward. He published his book, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit in 1992, and shortly after the election, started pushing for the establishment of a carbon tax to reduce fossil fuel consumption, according to The Guardian.
On Earth Day 1994, Gore proceeded to launch the GLOBE program to educate students on environmental awareness. After losing in the 2000 presidential election, Gore continued advocating for environmental awareness, and started touring across the globe with a slideshow to educate the masses. In 2006, he premiered An Inconvenient Truth, which became a monumental documentary regarding the effects of climate change.
These are just a few of the climate change pioneers who have paved the way for modern day environmental moguls such as Greta Thunberg and Genesis Butler. There's no denying that we appreciate our climate action activists 365 days of the year, but we especially commemorate their findings on International Day of Climate Action.