Plagues and climate change and the fossil fuel industry and climate research

According to researchers from the University of Bremen and the University of Oklahoma, the Antonine Plague, the Plague of Cyprian and the Plague of Justinian, which devastated the Roman Empire between 165 and 590, were linked to a changing climate. The latter killed almost half of the population of Constantinople and about ⅓ of the population of Europe. The cooling of temperatures began around the year 100, and in the fourth and fifth decades of the 6th century, there were extreme temperature drops in Europe. Scientists have used marine sediments to reconstruct temperature and rainfall changes in ancient Rome.

The fossil fuel industry already in 1954 financed some of the first and fundamental research on the world’s climate, including the development of the Keeling Curve – a chart showing changes in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere since 1958. Subsidised by oil and car producers (including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors), The Air Pollution Foundation provided funds to Charles Keeling, who worked at the California Institute of Technology for CO₂ measurement and smog research in Los Angeles.

According to experts, the fossil fuel industry was closely involved in the emergence of modern climate science as far back as the 1950s, was aware of the damage that climate change would cause, and then, for decades, publicly denied the research results and financed efforts to delay countermeasures to the climate crisis. Currently, CO₂ levels in the Earth’s atmosphere are 422 parts per million, almost ⅓ higher than the first reading taken in 1958, and a 50% increase over pre-industrial levels.

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