- Last Updated: 10 October 2015 10 October 2015
write short story that references Keelign Curve lessons: Insights from long-term earth obsevations. http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/history_legacy/keeling_curve_lessons
Rewards and Penalties of Monitoring the Earth by Charles David Keeling
Rewards and Penalties of Monitoring the Earth is a 1998 autobiographical account of Dave Keeling's discovery of background levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It describes events that led to this discovery, and events that followed. It is a story of perserverence in the face of scientific and institutional challenges to push open the door of understanding of the rising levels of atmospheric CO2. A review in the scientific Journal, Nature, declares that Keeling's article "should be compulsory reading for politicians and science administrators." The reviewer adds that "idealistic young scientists, as yet unscarred, should read it and take note: courage and perseverance are required."
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has reprinted the paper with the permission of the Annual Review of Energy and the Environment. Click here for more citations and republication information. Click here to download the paper directly from the Scripps website.
The prologue is excerpted below:
At editorial request, the following sketch is focused on a particular aspect of my career: my desire to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide. For much of my professional career, this desire met with heavy opposition from certain agencies of the US Government that wanted such measurements to be managed principally, or even solely, as in-house programs of the federal bureaucracy. I have attempted to intertwine the portrayal of this struggle with a narrative of the concurrent gain in knowledge from my measurements which repeatedly helped me to argue for their continuance.
As biographical background, I begin with a general account of my childhood and school years, followed by how I first became involved in measuring carbon dioxide. With the beginning of the disputes with the agencies, most of what follows bears, however, specifically on my studies of atmospheric carbon dioxide, although throughout my career at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography I also pursued studies of the carbon cycle in the oceans. Near the end I remark on some of the consequences of the inexorable increase in carbon dioxide in the air, which I have witnessed first hand for over 40 years.
An excerpt from a review of the article is provided below:
Charles David Keeling's account of his tribulations, "Rewards and penalties of monitoring the Earth", should be compulsory reading for politicians and science administrators. Idealistic young scientists, as yet unscarred, should read it and take note: courage and perseverance are required. Before Keeling, little was known about CO2 in the atmosphere and available measurements had little value. Success came from Keeling's painstaking years of effort and innovation. Despite the import of the results, the work was often threatened, as is attested by a gap in 1964 when underfunding briefly halted measurement.
Monitoring is science's Cinderella, unloved and poorly paid. Sustaining a long-term, ground-based programme that demands high analytical standards remains challenging. Funding agencies are seduced either by 'pure' notions of basic science as hypothesis-testing, or by the satanic mills of commercial reward. Neither motive fosters 'dull' monitoring because meeting severe analytical demands is not seen as a worthwhile investment. At one stage, Keeling was ordered to guarantee two discoveries per year and today, modern research has become a planned journey through set 'milestones' to deliverable destinations.
No longer do we blindly cast our bread on the ocean of truth. Keeling's long-term CO2 measurements began in 1957 with the first flask collection at the South Pole. Hawaiian measurements started in March 1958. That air had 316 parts per million of CO2. By March 2007 the comparable value was 384 parts per million. As data curves lengthened, patterns emerged. Seasonal changes and hemispheric differences traced the breathing of the biosphere, dominated by springtime CO2 uptake and autumn release in the Northern Hemisphere.
American Museum of Natural History | Keeling's Curve: A Story of CO2 (2014 video)
Nature | Earth monitoring: Cinderalla Science | Euan Nesbit
San Diego Union Tribune | Keelings' CO² measurements as global warming's longest y ardstick
Climate Central | Keeling Curve