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Climate lesson in ‘My Weekly Reader,’ 1959

Some of you may remember “My Weekly Reader,” a current events newsmagazine for school kids that teachers handed out once a week.

A short report called “The Air Is Changing” made a lasting impression on me. It was the first time I read about the greenhouse effect. At the time, it seemed like a pretty simple explanation of the science, a little frightening but not a big problem for my future because I knew the grownups would fix it. Well, the grownups didn’t read “My Weekly Reader.” Now we’re the grownups and we need to fix it.

I was in fifth grade but this little bit of science wasn’t hard to grasp. The following excerpt is from “My Weekly Reader,” October 5, 1959.

“Carbon dioxide is a gas found in the air. Living things need a little carbon dioxide. Soon, there may be too much.

“Every time a car is started, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is increased. Carbon dioxide forms whenever fuels are burned.

“Carbon dioxide is changing our weather. This invisible gas acts like the glass in a greenhouse. It lets sun energy come in, but stops the radiation of heat from the inside out. Carbon dioxide acts like a heat trap. It is making the earth warmer.”

Tom Kidder

West Newbury, Vermont