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First Mention: Who Used 'Global Warming' First?

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

2015 will be remembered as the year a landmark climate agreement was reached in Paris. According to a search in our archives, it wasn't until 1989 that NPR even used the phrase global warming. It was coined as much as a decade earlier. As part of an occasional feature, we're going to take you back to when the term first caught our ear.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: First mention.

CORNISH: The day was May 8, 1989. Al Gore was serving as a U.S. senator, and former ALL THINGS CONSIDERED host Noah Adams introduced this story.

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NOAH ADAMS, BYLINE: Tennessee Democrat senator Albert Gore questioned the president's commitment to environmental protection when he learned that the administration had tampered with testimony on global warming from a leading scientist.

CORNISH: Gore's target was the administration of George Bush Sr. Senator Gore viewed the administration as trying to bury a vital story about the dangers of global warming.

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AL GORE: Are they going to let scientists come up here and tell us the truth? Are they going to recognize the truth and then make the changes in policy required to respond to this emerging crisis? And is this administration going to be committed to environmental protection or not?

CORNISH: The Bush administration defended itself, saying there was no consensus on the science of global warming. Al Gore would go on to receive the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He won it alongside the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. organization that's now considered the global authority on man-made climate change science. And this month, nearly every country in the world signed the Paris climate agreement setting a goal to limit rising global temperatures. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.