PHLOGISTON AND GREENHOUSE GAS THEORIES
Johann Becher in 1669 described the phenomenon of burning, now called oxidation, as caused by liberation of ‘phlogiston’ from combustible substances. The theory was accepted by scientists and at the beginning of the 18th century, Stahl extended it to include corrosion of metals. By today’s standards of objectivity, ‘phlogiston’ was an imaginary substance with magical properties.
A movie An Inconvenient Truth (2006) declared that the Earth is being heated by the action of ‘greenhouse gases’, mostly carbon dioxide. The theory has dominated climate science’s observation of and explanation for global warming ever since.
Measurements by Lavoisier recognized and named oxygen (1778) and hydrogen (1783). Priestley (1733-1804) also claimed discovering oxygen (1774). Joseph Black first identified carbon dioxide in the 1750s. There was no evidence corroborating phlogiston and Lavoisier’s account of combustion has gradually replaced the phlogiston theory.
Warming of 99.96% of Earth’s atmosphere by the 0.05% of greenhouse gases, enough to increase its temperature, has not been corroborated, as far as I know. There are alternative theories of global warming. I have published, in my satirical novel Animal Farm 2, an explanation of warming by thermal pollution, which is simpler. There are other theories and more than one may apply.
It remains to be seen whether the greenhouse gases theory will survive any better than the phlogiston theory has.