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The Scare Story of 1881

February 5, 2014

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Back in the 19th century, newspapers declared that something had “gone wrong” with the climate. The public was told that the telegraph system might cause the destruction of the human race.

1881_scare_storyOver at his RealScience blog, Steven Goddard has unearthed a fabulous news clipping from the 19th century.

131 years ago this month, an Australian newspaper (archived by the national library of that country) reprinted a story that had appeared in London’s St. James’s Gazette. The Gazette said it was informing its readers about “a timely note of warning” that had appeared in “one of the American papers.”

The concern back then involved the effect an expanding telegraph system might have on – you guessed it – the climate. The article says that if there were “sufficient electrical connection by wires around the earth” with the Earth itself, the planet’s polarity could be reversed.

The result…

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