Traversing science, politics, and technology, Our Biggest Experiment shines a spotlight on the little-known scientists who sounded the alarm to reveal the history behind the defining story of our age: the climate crisis.
In 1856, American scientist and women’s rights activist Eunice Newton Foote first warned the world that an atmosphere heavy with carbon dioxide could send temperatures here on Earth soaring. No one paid much attention.
Our Biggest Experiment tells Foote’s story, along with stories of the many scientists who helped build our modern understanding of climate change. It also tells the story of our energy system, from whale oil to kerosene and beyond, the first steamships, wind turbines, electric cars, oil tankers, and fridges. The story flows from the Enlightenment into World War II and later, tracing the development of big science and our advancing realization that global warming was a significant global problem. With precision and wit, Bell chronicles the growth of the environmental movement, climate skepticism, and political systems such as the UN climate talks.
As citizens of the twenty-first century, it can feel like history has dealt us a bad hand with the climate crisis. In many ways, this is true. Our ancestors have left us an almighty mess. But they left us tools for survival too, and Our Biggest Experiment tells both sides of the story.