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Note from Will

If you’re over 40, it’s probably much easier to remember a time when climate change wasn’t in the news. Before the late 1980s, politicians rarely talked about the greenhouse effect, and climate correspondent was a role unheard of in media organisations. But the world’s press has actually been delivering reports on the world’s increasing temperature – and fossil fuels’ role in it – from a much earlier date.

In fact, it’s now 70 years since the first news story about humanity’s role in the warming Earth went truly global. The claim made in 1953 by Canadian physicist Gilbert Plass that carbon dioxide from industrial activity was behind rising temperatures was picked up by newspapers around the world. And it marked the beginning of a focus on greenhouse gases that eventually produced the scientific consensus we have today. We can’t say we weren’t warned a long time ago.

One of the consequences of climate change is increasingly erratic weather patterns, of the kind we’ve seen in Britain and much of Europe over the past few months. Here’s what the recent rainfall – or lack thereof – means for the drought forecast this year.

And have you heard the claim that loneliness is as bad for you as smoking? We’ve looked at the evidence for whether being on your own is really as bad as “15 a day”.

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Will de Freitas

Environment + Energy Editor

A coal power station in London, 1952. John F Oughton / Simon Webster / Alamy

Climate change first ‘went viral’ exactly 70 years ago

Marc Hudson, University of Sussex

In May 1953, scientist Gilbert Plass made some extraordinarily prescient comments.

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