Peter Ritchie-Calder (picture: National Library of Scotland)

THIS MORNING I spent a very enjoyable hour or so with Robyn Williams of ABC's The Science Show. We were recording an interview to promote Free Radicals (launched in Oz at the end of August). He told me about the very first episode of the show, which featured Robyn quizzing a member of the House of Lords about energy issues and ending up with a warning about the climatic effects of burning fossil fuels. So, let's play guess the year:

Lord Ritchie-Calder: In the course of the last century we've put 360,000 million tons of fossil carbon into the atmosphere...Now remember, this is coming out of the bowels of the earth, and now we are taking it out and we're throwing it back into the atmosphere, and into the climatic machine, the weather machine, where it is beginning to affect the climate itself. Now this is a very serious matter, and to me there is no question that our climate has changed.

Robyn Williams: Do you expect the limitation to this ever-expanding use of fossil fuels as an energy source to be due to either running out of them or to this second question of climate effect?

Lord Ritchie-Calder: I think what is going to be definitely the factor will be governed by environmental factors, that you will simply be confronted with a situation which will make life virtually intolerable.

You can read the full transcript of the show (some pretty interesting stuff) here.

The year?

1975, people. 1975.

Now I know that Peter Ritchie-Calder wasn't the first to be talking about climate change from burning fossil fuels (see this from ClimateCrock for some older examples). But let's remember, this is not a professional scientist spouting; this is someone who was bringing it up in the UK political arena in 1975. Do we need any more evidence that, without a major catastrophic event or some serious civil disobedience, governments will never act?

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