A newly unearthed journal from 1966 shows the coal industry in America knew about climate change and the dangers of burning fossil fuels.

An entry in industry publication Mining Congress Journal from that year suggests those working in the field were aware the process could see "the temperature of the earth's atmosphere will increase and that vast changes in the climates of the earth will result", the Huffington Post reported.

The article was written by the then president of the now defunct Bituminous Coal Research Inc.

The 1966 entry was uncovered in industry publication Mining Congress Journal. Photo / Supplied
The 1966 entry was uncovered in industry publication Mining Congress Journal. Photo / Supplied

It was found by university of Tennessee professor Chris Cherry, Huffington Post reported.

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It suggests those working with coal were aware of 'vast changes in the climates'. Photo / Supplied
It suggests those working with coal were aware of 'vast changes in the climates'. Photo / Supplied

"Such changes in temperature will cause melting of the polar icecaps, which, in turn, would result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New York and London," the article read.

A "floored" Cherry said: "It pretty well described a version of what we know today as climate change. Increases in average air temperatures, melting of polar ice caps, rising of sea levels. It's all in there."

The article's discovery is thought to be the first piece of evidence to suggest the coal industry was aware of the ramifications of its work more than 50 years ago.

It is believed the oil industry also knew of climate change impacts around the same time.

Former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson was forced to deny in court last month that oil and gas giant ExxonMobil had downplayed the financial costs of mitigating climate change to mislead investors, Daily Mail reported.

Document warned changes to climate 'will cause melting of the polar icecaps'. Photo / 123RF
Document warned changes to climate 'will cause melting of the polar icecaps'. Photo / 123RF
The piece, highlighted in yellow, suggests those working with coal were aware of 'vast changes in the climates'. Photo / Supplied
The piece, highlighted in yellow, suggests those working with coal were aware of 'vast changes in the climates'. Photo / Supplied

Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, gave evidence in an unprecedented lawsuit against the American multinational that is being closely watched by energy companies and environmental activists.

Kert Davies, founder and director of the Climate Investigations Centre, said: "The coal mining industry — the utilities that were burning it for electricity, along with the railroads who were hauling it — and manufacturing industries like steel were the first corporate forces to become climate deniers and try to block action on climate policy.

"They fought the hardest because they had the biggest existential threat."

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