New Zealand Newspaper from 1912 Eerily Predicted Something about Today’s World


Newspapers have been around for a while and about 106 years ago, one from New Zealand didn’t have particularly uplifting thoughts about the future. What is even stranger is that there are a few matches with how our planet is today. Let’s find out.

The newspaper article

The newspaper, called ‘Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette’, had a very interesting article published on the 14th of August, 1912. More exactly, it was a paragraph in the ‘science notes and news’ section that really draws attention here.

The headline was ‘Coal consumption affecting climate’ and the short paragraph spoke about how the Earth’s atmosphere will change over time because of how the world’s economies began to use more and more fossil fuels.

Here’s what it said: “The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year. When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly.”

“This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries.”

We knew since then

What is stunning about this article is the fact that we knew that what we were doing was hurting our planet. Interesting enough, New Zealand wasn’t the first one to notice and write about the perils of fossil fuel consumption.

Australia’s ‘Braidwood Dispatch’ published a similar text on the 17th of July, 1912 and even before that, in March of the same year, ‘Popular Mechanics’ can be titled with being the first to tackle the problem.

The idea of coal-burners affecting our planet was around from the 1850’s, when the New York Times traced scientific discussion of how coal burning impacted the atmosphere.


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