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Racking Up Climate Milestones One President at a Time

By Climate Central

A happy Presidents Day to you. There have been 44 presidents spanning nearly 240 years of U.S. history.

During that time, major climate events have sometimes steered the course of history — think 1816, the "Year Without Summer" in the wake of Mount Tambora's eruption. There have also been major science discoveries that have informed the world about our fair climate — think of Arrhenius' famous calculation of greenhouse warming way back in 1895. Scroll through the above timeline to see most of the major climate milestones the world has experienced. Here are a few highlights to get you going:

  • 1859 — John Tyndall discovers that CO2 is a heat-trapping gas during the administration of James Buchanan.
  • 1911 — The last time during the era of modern recordkeeping that the planet experienced record global cold. William Howard Taft is in office.
  • 1958 — Charles Keeling begins recording atmospheric levels of CO2 from an observatory on Manua Loa, Hawaii — a project that has continued uninterrupted ever since. Dwight Eisenhower is halfway through his second term.
  • 2012-14 — The past few years have seen a slew of climate milestones fall. The lowest Arctic sea ice extent on record (2012), the cracking of the 400 parts per million level for CO2 in the atmosphere for the first time in human history (2013), and the hottest year on record (2014) have all come during the administration of Barack Obama. #thanksobama

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