There have been two, maybe three, landmark heat waves in the history of man-made global warming. The first was in 1988 and it put the concept of global warming on the map. Then as now, the eastern two-thirds of the United States broiled beneath ferociously high temperatures, while relentless drought parched soil and withered crops across the Midwestern farm belt.

But in Washington, the underlying problem was being named for the first time. On June 23, NASA scientist James Hansen testified to the US Senate that man-made global warming had begun. The New York Times reported his remarks on page one; the media at home and abroad followed suit. By year’s end, “global warming” had become a common phrase in news bureaux, government ministries and living rooms around the world.

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