A forgotten founder of climate science: Eunice Newton Foote
Eunice Newton Foote was the first person to suggest that an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide would lead to a warmer planet, but her discovery was largely ignored and her name disappeared for more than 150 years. She fell into such obscurity that there’s no known picture of her.
Bridget Kendall explores the life of this American scientist and inventor and asks why her ground-breaking research, carried out in the 1850s, was overlooked for so long. Discrimination against women, especially in the sciences, was a major reason, but might a transatlantic power struggle and even a case of intellectual theft have played their parts?
Eunice was also one of the founding members of the women’s rights movement in the United States – we discuss how she helped launch a campaign that would eventually win women the right to vote.
Plus, the story of how her work was recently re-discovered, and the quest to ensure her name gains greater recognition.
For more on Eunice and other key figures in the history of climate change visit https://bbc.in/3QXkiru
Producer: Simon Tulett
John Perlin, a research scholar in the department of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, who is working on what’s thought to be the first biography of Eunice Newton Foote;
Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, a recently retired professor of history from the University of Minnesota, USA, and expert on women and gender in the history of science;
Roland Jackson, a historian of nineteenth century science, honorary research Fellow in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London, and author of ‘The Ascent of John Tyndall’;
Ray Sorenson, retired petroleum geologist, Oklahoma, USA;
Judith Wellman, professor emerita at the State University of New York at Oswego, USA.
(Picture: Smoke billowing from chimneys at the coal-fired Bełchatów Power Station, Poland, in 2009. Credit: Peter Andrews/Reuters).