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Eunice Foote – the forgotten Climate Scientist

NewsOpinionEunice Foote - the forgotten Climate Scientist

In 1856, an American woman, Eunice Foote became the first person to propose that higher carbon dioxide levels would lead to a warmer planet. For years it’s been held that John Tyndall was the first discoverer of the Greenhouse Gas effect. Analysts have speculated that the cause of her obscurity was because of her gender, missteps by Joseph Henry, or lack of public dissemination of her work, particularly in Europe, but perhaps there’s another, simpler explanation. Why does Eunice Foote still today not receive full credit?

What we know. We now know that Eunice Foote first identified that increased quantities of “carbonic acid gas” [carbon dioxide] in the atmosphere will lead to higher temperatures, but more than 165 years later still she’s not getting enough credit.

Foote’s seminal scientific paper on the “Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun’s rays” was read by a proxy, Joseph Henry (chair of the Smithsonian), at the 10th annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in August 1856, almost three full years before John Tyndall’s first presentation in 1859 (and five years before the publication of his findings in 1861).

Why? We ask whether Eunice Foote only receives partial credit because she technically didn’t specifically isolate the radiative impact of infrared from the earth itself, or that she was a woman, or that she was an American. Why, despite initially receiving recognition in the USA and in continental Europe, is Eunice Foote not recognized in subsequent work on atmospheric research? Why was that recognition so delicately expressed?

Biography of Eunice Foote

Born in Goshen, Connecticut, in 1819, Eunice Newton, a distant relative of scientist Isaac Newton, grew up in upstate New York. Eunice attended the Troy Female Seminary, one of only two schools in the world that at that time featured a chemistry laboratory dedicated to the use of students, while also taking classes in biology and chemistry at a nearby college. Eunice excelled in her studies.

Declaration of sentiments final 0 1 eunice foote - the forgotten climate scientist
Eunice Newton Foote and her husband, Elisha Foote, signed the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments at the Woman’s Rights Convention, which protested women’s disenfranchisement.

Credit: Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection

In 1841, Eunice married Elisha Foote, a lawyer, mathematician, and progressive thinker. Elisha shared Eunice’s scientific interests and believed in equal rights for women. Both continued their private studies after formal education.

Eunice Foote helped organize, and Elisha attended, the Woman’s Rights Convention, in Seneca Falls, in 1848, to promote the fight for equal social status and legal rights for women (at the time of writing this paper, that fight still continues).

Both Eunice and Elisha signed the “Declaration of Sentiments”, and aside from helping prepare the conference proceedings, Eunice Foote also helped to get it published.

The Research: Elisha knew Joseph Henry, the founding secretary of the Smithsonian, and with Eunice, read his papers, and volunteered in a network of people that gathered meteorological data throughout the United States for the Smithsonian.

Meteorology was an important field of study, and initiatives to broaden research into the public sphere had started elsewhere, driven by efforts in Germany.

Early Science in America

In 1856, America had only recently started down the path of scientific discovery. In the last year of the administration of John Quincy Adams, 1827, America officially joined the international search for geographical, commercial, and scientific knowledge.

America was largely dependent on the science of foreign nations and those foreign nations reveled in underscoring that criticism. Germany was the first country to establish a joint scientific exploration with the young country.

Scientific Exploration The Senate Committee on Naval Affairs of America initially rejected plans to publicly fund scientific expeditions, particularly when co-financed by private interests looking for new whaling grounds, as ‘It would lead to American colonies developing overseas and form “unnecessary connections abroad”’.

But a few international expeditions were actually launched to explore and some to protect American interests before 1838, and in that year, the United States Exploring Expedition, a scientific expedition funded publicly and under the command of Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, set out to complete their scientific study and eventually a circumnavigation of the world.

Wilkes had initially authorized expedition scientists to use Latin terms to describe their collections, but that would make the works virtually unreadable by the American public. The decision was reversed and so we have a record (courtesy of the Smithsonian) of James Dwight Dana’s resultant “Geology” and his theories on the earth’s cooling, some of which are grounded in theories that reconcile science with biblical texts. Dana became one of the most eminent scientists in America.

James d dana earth cooling 1 eunice foote - the forgotten climate scientist
Credit: dana, james d. “united states exploring expedition, during the years, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, under the command of charles wilkes, u. S. N. – geology”, 1849, final paragraph, p. 434.

Popular newspapers hoped that American scientific research would join other European powers and support the international mission to civilize and Christianize humanity. However, the nascent emerging country was cautious of the international sensitivities of the major colonial forces and focused on the continental colonization of North America.

In 1838, James Smithson, an amateur English scientist bequeathed half a million dollars of gold to the American people to increase the nation’s knowledge of science, to make knowledge accessible to everyone. It was a close thing, or the “misinvested funds” would not have led to the creation of the Smithsonian, but from 1846, Joseph Henry, started building out the Smithsonian legacy and designing policies to keep science free from political influence and make it accessible to every person in America.

Mountaineering and Meteorology

International Collaboration America was abuzz with excitement following the return of The US Naval Astronomical Expedition of James Melville Gilliss to Chile, 1849–1852, which included a study by Gilliss of the geography, climate, meteorology, mineral and agricultural resources, and culture of Chile. The scientific expedition was initiated by a request for joint work by Dr. Christian Ludwig Gerling of Marburg University, with help from the Smithsonian, in the same year that a young John Tyndall joined Marburg University.

Marburg was one of the few universities in Europe (and the world at the time) unaffiliated with the Catholic (or another) Church.

Correspondence between marburg university and the smithsonian agent in europe, 1851
The Smithsonian Institution, via Johann Gottfried Flügel, their agent in Europe, sent Gerling a box of magnetic and meteorological observations and encouraged him to return in exchange, letters and packages of further materials like essays, books, scientific reports, etc. ([Gerling Archive], Ms. 319/246).

The Smithsonian Institution had sent Dr. Gerling a box of magnetic and meteorological observations from Chile in 1851 and encouraged him to return, in exchange, letters and packages of further materials like essays, books, scientific reports, etc.

Marburg University and the Smithsonian were in ongoing contact in the 1850s.

The Smithsonian, under Joseph Henry, had lent the expedition a seismometer and a complete meteorological outfit, and the Smithsonian’s agent in Europe, Dr. Johann Gottfried Flügel, continued the correspondence with Marburg University.

Mountaineering: The question surrounding the decrease of temperatures at increasing heights in the atmosphere was already recommended as an important subject for the contributions of observers as early as the first and second meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) in 1831.

The Gilliss expedition sent a delegation back via the Andes mountains with the task to take meteorological measurements and they reported on variances in temperature due to moisture, but also on variances in magnetic force.

Meteorology: The Smithsonian’s initiative to copy the Göttingen Magnetic Union network and news of the Andes expedition was very likely the spark that ignited the Foote’s participation in a meteorological network of up to 600 other volunteer observers, spanning the United States.

This practice was led by James Espy and Joseph Henry. The Smithsonian meteorological project provided standardized instruments, uniform procedures, and a stimulus for the continued growth of theories rooted in data.

Eunice Foote is now believed to have launched her experiment in response to a question to Scientific American that formed the opinion that it was the density of the atmosphere, and not the angularity of the sun’s rays, that was the principal reason why it was warmer in valleys than on top of mountains.

This analyst believes the US Naval delegation, under Lieutenant MacRae, across the Andes contributed materially to the increased public interest and along with the question in the paper, eventually to Eunice Foote’s discovery.

Eunice Foot’s Experimental Results

Presentation: Clearly discrimination against women continues, sometimes more subtly in the past, but in general the overwhelming majority of men are increasingly recognizing the contributions of women in society. This was not the case at the time of Eunice Foote’s presentation. Eunice Foote’s paper was not read by herself in 1856, but rather by Joseph Henry.

The next year, Eunice was listed as a speaker in the “Proceedings” and perhaps (no proxy reader was identified) able to read her own paper at the AAAS meeting of 1857. However, this is not clear, as America then still had contemporary laws against women speaking publicly.

The details: Foote’s experiments with “carbonic acid gas” [carbon dioxide, or CO₂] and “water vapour”, through the absorption of radiant energy from the sun, posited that increased quantities of these gases could substantially alter the temperature of earth’s atmosphere through solar radiation.

“The highest effect of the sun’s rays I have found to be in carbonic acid gas. … An atmosphere of that gas would give to our earth a high temperature; and if as some suppose, at one period of its history the air had mixed with it a larger proportion than as present, an increased temperature from its own action as well as from increased weight must have necessarily resulted.”

Mrs. Eunice Foote – American Journal of Science and Arts – 1856

The basis of Eunice Foote’s atmospheric analysis is elegantly explained elsewhere.

A copy of eunice foote's paper, circumstances affecting the heat of the sun's rays - 1856
Eunice Foote – Circumstances affecting the Heat of the Sun’s Rays – American Journal of Science and Arts, 1856

Greenhouse Gas: Eunice Foote demonstrated the absorption of energy from sunlight by carbon dioxide and water vapour (and hydrogen and oxygen) and made the direct connection to their variability in content as a possible cause of climate change. Foote was the first in observing the ability of carbonic acid gas [carbon dioxide] to absorb varying degrees of heat.

That should be enough for recognition.

Credit? But the credit for the discovery and assignment of the “greenhouse gas” properties of the atmosphere with higher carbon dioxide content, is attributed rather to John Tyndall, then chair of the Royal Institution (RI), who isolated the effect of longwave infra-red radiation from the earth’s surface as the actual physical basis of the greenhouse effect in 1859 “after only a few days’ work” (published in 1861).

Even though technically Foote didn’t expressly state the cause of the variance in temperature is the radiative effect of infrared light from the earth, the results of her experiment clearly show the variance in temperatures of carbonic acid gas [carbon dioxide] remains when comparing the results in the sun and in the shade.

So, questions remain on the primacy of the discovery of the Greenhouse Gas effect, the acknowledgment of priority in research purely driven by publication, the patentability of inventions building on prior knowledge, and the lack of current recognition for Eunice Foote.

The Modern Analysis

Rediscovery: Foote’s research seemed to have been lost, until 2010, when Raymond Sorenson, a retired petroleum geologist, and historian, read Eunice Foote’s Paper in the 1857 edition of The Annual of Scientific Discovery edited by David A. Wells. 

Republication: Sorensen, who had by then only found the article published in The Annual of Scientific Discovery, believed Foote’s paper was not widely distributed, and published his findings in 2011, in the journal AAPG Search and Discovery as an independent researcher.

“In the course of scientific discovery, it can be difficult to assess claims of priority, particularly if research results are not placed in the public domain through formal publication. … Despite the absence of a formal publication, it is clear that Eunice Foote deserves credit for being an innovator on the topic of CO2 and its potential impact on global climate warming”.

Raymond Sorenson – AAPG Search and Discovery – 2011

Sorensen believed the original paper of Eunice Foote was deemed to have been excluded from the published conference “proceedings” and questioned whether it had passed into the public record for purposes of assessing claims of priority.

Science Knows no Gender: Sorensen’s work led others to analyze Foote’s work. In 2018, the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) held a “Science Knows no Gender” symposium to discuss the three-year analysis by John Perlin, a research scholar in UCSB’s Department of Physics, on the life and times of Eunice Foote. Perlin argues effectively that Eunice’s paper did pass into the public record.

Dr. Joseph Ortiz (Kent State) “Eunice Foote – a once forgotten climate science pioneer”

Digging Deeper: In 2020, Dr. Joseph D. Ortiz, of Kent State University, reanalyzed the contributions of Eunice Foote, and Sir Roland Jackson of the RI contextualized Eunice Foote’s work. Dr. Ortiz found her model extremely accurate.

What we know: It is now clear that Eunice Foote’s work was not only published in David Wells’s Annual of Scientific Discovery, but comments on her work also appeared in the New York Daily Tribune, the Canadian Journal of Industry, Science and Art, Scientific American, and importantly, a full copy of the paper was published in the American Journal of Science and Arts (page 382-383).

European link: Outside England, short summaries of Eunice Foote’s work was published in the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal of 1857 and in the Jahresbericht for 1856 (and 1857). However, both summaries omitted her direct conclusions about the atmosphere and climate.

But Eunice Foote’s work also appeared in the Bibliotheca historico-naturalis physico-chemica (1856), Zeitschrift (1857), and Die Fortschritte der Physik (1859), and the American Journal of Science and Arts with her article was seen in England…

Acknowledgment in the USA: Joseph Henry didn’t exactly extoll the merits of Eunice Foote as a researcher in the New York Daily Tribune, when he said, “although the experiments were interesting and valuable, there were many difficulties encompassing any attempt to interpret their significance”, but he is reported to go on to say about Eunice Foote’s research, “[It] was a delicate and intricate inquiry well worthy [the] attention of investigators”. Was there another presence that necessitated the word “delicate”?

Scientific American also wrote an article about Eunice in 1856, entitled “Scientific Ladies – Experiments with Condensed Gases“, the unnamed author praised the scientific knowledge of Foote and that of women in general…

“the experiments of Mrs. Foot[e] afford abundant evidence of the ability of women to investigate any subject with originality and precision.”

Scientific Ladies – Experiments with Condensed Gases | Scientific American – 1856

In this article, we’ve added the knowledge of the link between Marburg University, the Smithsonian, Joseph Henry, and John Tyndall, but also introduce a brief analysis of the role of Dr. James D. Dana as the eminent editor of the American Journal of Science and Arts.

Tyndall is a Climate Giant

Tyndall the Giant: As is written so eloquently by RI researcher, Sir Roland Jackson author of John Tyndall’s biography, Tyndall was a remarkable man. Like the Foote family, Tyndall was focused on improving his knowledge through private study from an early age. After a stint as a teacher of engineering at Queenwood College, when his colleague, Edmond Frankland, was offered a position to study chemistry with Robert Bunsen at Marburg University, Tyndall joined him in October 1848.

Tyndall wrote his Ph.D. (in German) focusing on a mathematical investigation of screw surfaces, with two supplementary subjects in chemistry and physics. Tyndall who was briefly lectured by physicist Dr. Gerling, must have been at Marburg University at the height of the excitement about the American joint venture to Chile with the Smithsonian.

After his studies concluded in 1851 at Marburg University, Tyndall briefly spent time in London and met again with a fellow German speaker, William Francis, who was the chief editor of the Philosophical Magazine, one of the oldest scientific journals published in English. Francis would offer Tyndall money to help translate scientific works published in German on the continent for the Philosophical Magazine.

The Philosophical Magazine, under William Francis, was republishing the latest and most important scientific papers received from Germany. Scientific papers in Marburg were published in German, not Latin, as was the habit elsewhere and in England, to make them accessible to the general public. America had just started that same practice a few years before. Tyndall was eventually asked to help Francis to translate the German documents received from institutions across the continent.

Tyndall was an extremely good populariser of science, and following a meeting with Faraday, in the early 1850s, used Faraday’s experimental method, which was a serious threat to the domination of the established “Gentlemen of Science”, that sought to accommodate religious views with their views of science.

After the publication of the MacRae expedition to the Andes, Tyndall began traveling to the Alps in the mid-1850s for his research, which quickly also included theories of glaciological science, and he became engaged in seriously competitive mountaineering. From 1856, Tyndall started journeying to the Alps, and conducted several experiments on magnetism, compression, glaciers, and ice, and from 1857, Tyndall wrote several Alpine and mountaineering books that popularised the new “sport”.

Galileo science religion jpg eunice foote - the forgotten climate scientist
About three-in-ten adults in the USA say their own religious beliefs conflict with science, with the most common area of conflict centering around teachings about the creation of the universe and evolution. Source: Pewresearch.org

Tyndall was engaged himself in a dispute on his “prevision” of the principle of making of snow into compact ice in a glacier, despite earlier technical work concluded. And Tyndall would later again erroneously champion another scientist to the exclusion of others who did the experimental verification.

Tyndall was an early public advocate of Darwin’s theory of evolution, as first published in his book, Origin of the Species, in 1859. Darwin’s book was the trigger that increasingly released empirical scientists like Tyndall from the shackles of tying science theory to scripture. Suddenly scientific facts were presented that refuted age-old conservative thought. While Darwin hid from public view, others would propagate his theories and gain confidence in expressing their own non-conformist views.

Tyndall isolated the radiation effect of longwave infra-red on carbonic acid gas and water vapour, using a copper cube containing boiling water in 1859. Tyndall’s work clearly is the first to identify “radiant heat” as the exact technical cause of the heating of the atmosphere by infrared radiation from the earth and published his full paper “On the absorption and radiation of heat by gases and vapours, and on the physical connexion of radiation, absorption, and conduction” in 1861.

Credit where Credit is due? Tyndall stated in his papers that the field of inquiry was “perfectly unbroken ground” and went on to play a central role in the analysis and quantitative understanding of atmospheric physics.

Democratization of Science

Tyndall went on (particularly publicly in 1874) to denounce the historical oppression by the church of science and denounced the church’s influence over education, and continued to promote rational scientific investigation, observation and experimentation in his articles and books, like Fragments of Science. Tyndall’s book Contributions to molecular physics in the domain of radiant heat published in 1872 included his memoirs on various subjects, he sought to popularise and democratize science (making it accessible to all people).

Tyndall was seen as a role model not only due to his sporting prowess and intellectual achievements. As Sir Roland Jackson, RI researcher and Tyndall biographer, so eloquently argued, John Tyndall is undoubtedly a worthy recipient of credit for his other work in climate science, but the pre-existing work of Eunice Foote lay the groundwork in history.

Omission or Commission?


We now know that summaries of Eunice Foote’s paper were widely published in German across the continent. And that the summaries of her paper were reprinted in England. Maybe Tyndall didn’t see these German summaries, there were after all five editors at the Philosophical Magazine, although this analyst only know of Tyndall and Francis’s capability to read and write German.

Omission on Language: Was the exclusion of the German summaries merely an omission on the part of Philosophical Magazine? Or was it deliberately excluded to ensure later primacy of research could not be identified?

Any omission to ensure primacy would have been made easier given that the published European summaries were in German, and therefore their English translations, didn’t include Foote’s critical conclusion on the atmosphere. It is understandable if those were the only exposure English scientists had to Foote’s work, that they wouldn’t question Tyndall’s primacy.

But that was NOT the only exposure!

Omission in England: Somehow only Elisha Foote’s paper, which appeared in the same 1856 edition of the American Journal of Science and Arts as Eunice’s, was republished republished in the Philosophical Magazine of William and Francis. The publishers even quote the source of Elisha’s paper as Silliman’s journal for November 1856 (bottom page 167), where Eunice Foote’s work was the next article.

An article by John Tyndall was even published in America in the Annual of Journal of Discovery (page 143-146) of David Wells, where Elisha and Eunice Foote’s articles were first rediscovered in 2011.

Omission for other reasons? For whatever reason, despite having made it to England, Eunice’s 1856 paper was omitted from the Philosophical Magazine in England, but her next paper of the following year (1857) was included. Therefore arguing that the exclusion of Eunice Foote’s work was exclusively based on her sex is not fully plausible. Could there have been other reasons?

Tyndall clearly (from his papers) presented that he hadn’t seen Eunice Foote’s work, or any other pre-existing relevant studies, despite the inclusion of papers from the American Journal of Science and Arts (by Elisha Foote) in the Philosophical Magazine that unquestionably confirm Eunice’s article had made it to England, and was in front of the editors.

Why overlooked in America and Europe: Dr. Ortiz highlights in his seminar “Eunice Foote – a once forgotten climate science pioneers” that Scientific American recognized that Eunice Foote’s theory was in contrast to the opinions of contemporary eminent geologists that held the earth was cooling due to residual heat escaping from the planet, unlike her theory that implied it was rather due to differential levels of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

Was the fact that Dr. James Dwight Dana, the eminent geologist that had posited this theory of the earth’s cooling, after his circumnavigation scientific journey, was one of the editors of the American Journal of Science and Arts, perhaps cause enough for Joseph Henry to be so cautious when commenting on Eunice Foote’s work. The influence of Dana and the constant link to religion in science at the time was perhaps the main reason why Eunice Foote’s work was not taken up by other scientists in America, or Europe initially.

Tyndall is described as a moral character and even attacked others who had plagiarised. Tyndall’s work with gases initially wasn’t focused on carbonic acid gas, implying he wasn’t following an already prepared recipe or working to a known outcome.

Could it have been that her paper, published two years before Charles Darwin’s “Origin of the Species”, was too provocatively set against the prevalent conservative views held at the time? Perhaps it was too delicate to promote these ideas given the religious sensitivities before Darwin revolutionized thinking and because of the involvement of others actively promoting science that held opposing views.

The creation of adam scien religion jpg eunice foote - the forgotten climate scientist
Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, Rome

It’s open to interpretation, but perhaps the publications that Tyndall and Francis oversaw only became liberal enough to include controversial articles on the origins of the earth, contrasting scientists of the time, once Charles Darwin presented his theories of evolution.

In a sense, we could make a comparison between Foote’s work and that of Galileo Galilei, in that they were radically different from the acceptable contemporary visions of science in their time. None of the eminent scientists at the time wanted to go against mainstream thinking given the political implications.

In today’s world, it’s like posting a paper contrary to current popularly accepted scientific views… perhaps no one even today would provide a positive peer review to these kinds of radical theories, or if they did, they would wait until they had discovered a device that could irrefutably prove their theory.

We will probably not ever know for sure if Tyndall actually saw Eunice Foote’s paper, or any other reference to the implications on atmospheric temperatures made by her, but like Tyndall did, by ignoring others at the time, we consider it appropriate to emphasise the role of Eunice Foote, “as a first discoverer of important truths”.

Unaffiliated Scientists

The Struggle for Recognition: It is clear that Eunice Foote did receive recognition in America as a scientist. What is peculiar is that Foote’s article did not attract the attention of scholars in Europe active in meteorology, particularly at Marburg University, where close cooperation with the Smithsonian, under Joseph Henry, had been in place for several years.

The Struggle for Science: Eunice Foote’s contribution continues to be subtly dismissed as “an amateur American woman” in comparison to Tyndall’s superior education. Perhaps that in a way reflects the ongoing international struggle for the control of science, which today includes requirements for peer-reviewed analysis that effectively raises the costs for scientists in nascent scientific environments. 

At the time of Foote’s paper, all American-born scientists were “amateurs”. Only in 1860 did “The Collegiate School” (Yale College from 1718) institute an advanced research degree (the first in America), a doctorate in philosophy.

The Reward for Amateur Scientists? The academic Royal Society (RS) has in the past awarded prestigious prizes to amateur scientists. In fact, the most notable amateur scientist decorated by the RS was self-educated Benjamin Franklin, who was awarded the Copley Medal (the highest possible award from the RS) and a “fellowship” of the RS for his kite experiment linking Lightning to Electricity in 1753.

Franklin was awarded the Copley Medal even when he was not a fellow of the RS, nor a resident or citizen of the UK (although at least the USA was subject to the British Crown at that time, and not an international rival, as they were at the time of Foote). Franklin continues to be acknowledged for his simple private experiment even though the same experiment is now known to have been successfully conducted a month earlier by Thomas-François Dalibard in northern France, admittedly using methods suggested (but not tested) by Benjamin Franklin.

A few years after Eunice Foote’s paper, Dr. James D. Dana was also awarded the Copley Medal for his work (in 1877).

Democratizing Science Today

If we are serious about promoting the full “democratization” of scientific study, and serious about equality, more acknowledgment should go to Eunice Foote. Unfortunately, the current path seems to be somewhat further away from acknowledging scientific findings or even using scientific findings to promote links with religion. Conservative religious populist thought is driving us down the conservative path of religion, and away from the popularisation urged by Tyndall.

Imagine Eunice Foote in today’s world. The current system of peer review could result in scientists 100 years from now questioning why the research from an unaffiliated scientist, woman or male, based in a country with unrecognized scientific prowess and a radically different idea to conventional wisdom didn’t receive international recognition for the research they have done.

But unlike today when decades-old research is available to access freely for this author, in digitized copies without any paywall (see list of works accessed below), scientists of the future will likely struggle to find relevant analysis explaining the lack of pre-eminence for authors from emerging scientific regions. They will only be able to access the analysis once they have unlocked countless paywalls.

Why not fully credit the contribution of Eunice Foote? Of the two papers (that this author is aware of) written by women that were published in the “Proceedings” of the AAAS in the first 50 years of its existence, both were written by Eunice Foote. Foote’s work in climate science and the impact of carbon dioxide was the first and remains remarkable in the context of the history and the age of American science.

Self-taught unaffiliated scientists, yes, amateurs if you will, unconstrained by dogmatic learning, often derived practical scientific advances at a faster pace than in religiosity-constrained universities in America or Europe. Sure they made errors, which was the reason American institutions had editorial control bodies, but unaffiliated empirical scientists made many important advances in science.

Today: Mrs. Eunice Foote deserves more credit than being noted merely as an innovator on the topic of carbon dioxide and its potential impact on the atmosphere. The struggle for equality of opportunity for the sexes and for emerging education systems continues globally. Perhaps, it is time for a rethink of peer-review requirements and how we honour scientists.

Despite select knowledge of science existing for several decades, the distribution of scientific knowledge remains too narrow, and the current system is not helpful to achieve broader dissemination, particularly of publicly funded independent (dare we say even radical) research. Perhaps that will include research that goes against the currently accepted thinking… but that should be encouraged.

The anthropological cause of variations in atmospheric temperatures continues to be disputed by minority groups. So the exclusion of minority views might seem attractive… But we walk a tightrope if we exclude other research that has a sound scientific basis, and is not just an expression of ideology.

We celebrate Eunice Foote for the discovery of the Greenhouse Gas Effect of Carbon dioxide and Water Vapour. Now to invest and expand systems that are scientifically tested as viable to undo the anthropological causes of climate change!

Thank you

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Eunice Foote – The Climate Scientist


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Works Accessed and Cited

100 Signers Project. “Signer #5, Eunice Newton Foote: ‘The Climate Scientist.’ ”, 30 Jun. 2020, https://www.100signersproject.com/signer-profiles/signer-5-eunice-newton-foote-the-climate-scientist . Accessed Nov. 2022

Bibliotheca historico-naturalis physico-chemica et mathematica. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1857.

Dana, James D. “United States Exploring Expedition, During the Years, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, Under the Command of Charles Wilkes, U.S.N. – GEOLOGY”, 1849, p.434.

Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. Fortschritte der Physik. Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, 1859, p.375-376

Foote, Elisha. “On the Heat in the Sun’s Rays.” The American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. 22, no. 66, 1856, pp. 377–381.

Foote, Eunice. “Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun’s Rays.” The American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. 22, no. 66, 1856, pp. 382–3.

Foote, Mrs Elisha. “On a New Source of Electrical Excitation. The American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. 25, no. 70, 1857, pp. 386-7.

Foote, Eunice. “On a New Source of Electrical Excitation.” The London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, vol, 15, no. 99, 1858 pp. 239-240.

Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin. Zeitschrift. D. Reimer, 1857.

Gilliss, J.M. (James Melville). “The U.S. Naval Astronomical Expedition to the southern hemisphere, during the years 1849-’50-’51-’52“, vol. 3, 1856

Jackson, Roland. “Eunice Foote, John Tyndall and a Question of Priority.” The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, 13 Feb. 2019, Accessed Nov. 2022

Kazar, J.D. (John Dryden) The United States Navy and scientific exploration, 1837-1860., University of Massachusetts, Sep. 1973
Accessed Nov. 2022

Krupnik, Igor. Lang, Michael A. and Miller, Scott E. Editors “Smithsonian at the Poles – Contributions to International Polar Year Science” Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2009, pp. 2-3. Accessed Nov. 2022

Ortiz, Dr Joseph D., Jackson, Sir Roland. “Understanding Eunice Foote’s 1856 Experiments: Heat Absorption By Atmospheric Gases“, Notes and Records: the Royal Society journal of the history of science, 2020. Accessed Nov. 2022

Schrimpf, Andreas. “An international campaign of the 19th century to determine the solar parallax – The US Naval expedition to the southern hemisphere 1849 – 1852” Philipps-Universität Marburg. Accessed Nov. 2022

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