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Mike Farrell portrays atmospheric scientist, David Keeling (1928-2005)  whose pioneering work on CO2 gave the world its first early warnings about the dangers of human induced global warming.

Recent Performance: Sedona International Film Festival


About David Keeling  

In 1955 Keeling was the first scientist to successfully measure carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. He continued to measure CO2 for the the next 50 years despite indifference and opposition from U.S. government agencies that failed to understand the importance of his work. Today in the National Academy of Science in Washington, the Keeling Curve stands beside Darwin’s finches and the double helix of DNA, as the scientific icon that most clearly illustrates the steady rise of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere.


Graph courtesy of Scripps Institute of Oceanology.

The Keeling Curve. It shows the relentless rise of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere from 310 ppm in the 1950’s to more than 400 ppm in 2014.

CO2 is expected to reach 406.5 ppm in May, 2016.

350 ppm, the CO2 level in 1988, is considered the acceptable safe limit for CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere.

Graph courtesy of Scripps Institute of Oceanology.

A history of CO2 between 1700. As you can see, CO2 in 1700, just before the industrial revolution, was at about 278 ppm. As factories and industries developed, by 1800, CO2 gradually rose to 282 ppm, 300 ppm by 1900 and 310 ppm by the 1950’s when Keeling began taking his measurements. The growth of CO2 after 1960 when has been extraordinary and unprecedented in climate history. In 1980, Keeling and other scientists began learning about ancient temperatures and CO2 levels hundreds of thousands of years ago. See below.


The above graph shows CO2 levels over the course of the past 800,000 years and the pattern of ice ages during periods of low CO2 and warming periods during periods of higher CO2.


These two graphs show global CO2 levels in blue (top) and global temperatures in red (below) and the striking correlation between them over the past 400,000 years.

Managed by Aaron C. Yeagle