: Large-scale coal burning in China may have begun a long time before the Industrial Revolution. John Dodson of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and colleagues extracted seeds from chunks of burned coal in northern China and used radiocarbon dating to determine that coal was consistently being burned as fuel
as long as 3500 years ago. If so, it supports the theory
proposed by William Ruddiman last year that human-induced climate change may have begun much earlier than previously thought. But Jennifer Marlon of Yale University disagrees, saying that the prehistoric emissions would have been way too small to have had much impact on global climate.