An automobile parked in the sun collects heat like a greenhouse, becoming a death trap. The exact rate of heating is difficult to predict because it depends on the color and design of the car, the angle it’s parked, whether the windows are tinted or slightly open, and unpredictable effects of wind and clouds.
Even with uncertainty, the science is settled. The inevitable and dangerous warming of a parked car is governed by basic laws of physics. The expert consensus remains: leaving pets or children inside can lead to a catastrophe. Anyone who ignores this advice is criminally negligent, if not depraved.
As a physics student in the ’70s, I learned how to estimate the Earth’s equilibrium temperature without heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The answer was about 1 degree F, far short of the actual average surface temperature of 59 degreeš. The difference – nearly 60 degrees – is due to the greenhouse effect.
In 1975, a landmark scientific paper was published, titled “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” The prediction: “…the exponential rise in the atmospheric carbon dioxide content will tend to become a significant factor and by early in the next century will have driven the mean planetary temperature beyond the limits experienced during the last 1,000 years.”