We Are Heading For The Warmest Climate In Half A Billion Years, Says New Study…

We Are Heading For The Warmest Climate In Half A Billion Years, Says New Study...

Carbon dioxide concentrations are heading towards values not seen in the past 200m years. The sun has also been gradually getting stronger over time. Put together, these facts mean the climate may be heading towards warmth not seen in the past half a billion years.

A lot has happened on Earth since 500,000,000BC – continents, oceans and mountain ranges have come and gone, and complex life has evolved and moved from the oceans onto the land and into the air. Most of these changes occur on very long timescales of millions of years or more. However, over the past 150 years global temperatures have increased by about 1 degree C, ice caps and glaciers have retreated, polar sea-ice has melted, and sea levels have risen.

Some will point out that Earth’s climate has undergone similar changes before. So what’s the big deal?



Scientists can seek to understand past climates by looking at the evidence locked away in rocks, sediments and fossils. What this tells us is that yes, the climate has changed in the past, but the current speed of change is highly unusual. For instance, carbon dioxide hasn’t been added to the atmosphere as rapidly as today for at least the past 66m years.

In fact, if we continue on our current path and exploit all convention fossil fuels, then as well as the rate of CO2 emissions, the absolute climate warming is also likely to be unprecedented in at least the past 420m years. That’s according to a new study we have published in Nature Communications.

We Are Heading For The Warmest Climate In Half A Billion Years, Says New Study...
Life in the planet’s last greenhouse period, the Eocene. CC BY

 

In terms of geological time, 1 degree C of global warming isn’t particularly unusual. For much of its history the planet was significantly warmer than today, and in fact more often than not Earth was in what is termed a “greenhouse” climate state. During the last greenhouse state 50m years ago, global average temperatures were 10-15 degree C warmer than today, the polar regions were ice-free, palm trees grew on the coast of Antarctica, and alligators and turtles wallowed in swamp-forests in what is now the frozen Canadian Arctic.

In contrast, despite our current warming, we are still technically in an “icehouse” climate state, which simply means there is ice on both poles. The Earth has naturally cycled between these two climate states every 300m years or so.

Just prior to the industrial revolution, for every million molecules in the atmosphere, about 280 of them were CO2 molecules (280 parts-per-million, or ppm). Today, due primarily to the burning of fossil fuels, concentrations are about 400 ppm. In the absence of any efforts to curtail our emissions, burning of conventional fossil fuels will cause CO2 concentrations to be around 2,000ppm by the year 2250.

This is of course a lot of CO2, but the geological record tells us that the Earth has experienced similar concentrations several times in the past. For instance, our new compilation of data shows that during the Triassic, around 200m years ago, when dinosaurs first evolved, Earth had a greenhouse climate state with atmospheric CO2 around 2,000-3,000ppm.

So high concentrations of carbon dioxide don’t necessarily make the world totally uninhabitable. The dinosaurs thrived, after all.

That doesn’t mean this is no big deal, however. For a start, there is no doubt that humanity will face major socio-economic challenges dealing with the dramatic and rapid climate change that will result from the rapid rise to 2,000 or more ppm.

We Are Heading For The Warmest Climate In Half A Billion Years, Says New Study...

If we burnt all fossil fuel reserves the vast Antarctic ice sheet may disappear.

 

But our new study also shows that the same carbon concentrations will cause more warming in future than in previous periods of high carbon dioxide. This is because the Earth’s temperature does not just depend on the level of CO2 (or other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere. All our energy ultimately comes from the sun, and due to the way the sun generates energy through nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium, its brightness has increased over time. Four and a half billion years ago when the Earth was young the sun was around 30% less bright.

So what really matters is the combined effect of the sun’s changing strength and the varying greenhouse effect. Looking through geological history we generally found that as the sun became stronger through time, atmospheric CO2 gradually decreased, so both changes cancelled each other out on average.

But what about in the future? We found no past time period when the drivers of climate, or climate forcing, was as high as it will be in the future if we burn all the readily available fossil fuel. Nothing like it has been recorded in the rock record for at least 420m years.

A central pillar of geological science is the uniformitarian principle: that “the present is the key to the past”. If we carry on burning fossil fuels as we are at present, by 2250 this old adage is sadly no longer likely to be true. It is doubtful that this high-CO2 future will have a counterpart, even in the vastness of the geological record.

Gavin Foster, Professor of Isotope Geochemistry, University of SouthamptonDana Royer, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University, and Dan Lunt, Professor of Climate Science, University of Bristol

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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(52) comments

they cant forecast a week accurate out but can 1/2 billion yrs….bullshit

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    Not as bullshit as your inability to tell the difference between climate and weather.

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    another flat-earther….cant tell em anything

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    Possibly because the past isn’t the future. I can’t believe I have to explain this, but the past has ALREADY happened. Nobody is forecasting it and data on it can be gathered through various means, such as through the geological record.

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    Ummm, I’m up here in the Arctic and have been for nearly 40 years & call BS. The predictions are a little over 1 degree rise in the next 100 years is all. Oh, I forgot to mention that the arctic use to be tropical when the Mastodons were running around and brother, we have a LONG way to go to get to that point. Oh, and they just had a news article saying the drought is predicted to end in California because of Global Warming………. sounds good to me or did you like California turning into a dust bowl?

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    nor is the future assured by a small group of malcontents who scientifically know nothing, can not forecast a week out accurate but somehow, someway they have the “futuristic vision to go out 1/2 billion yrs”……give me a break. as far as the land of fruits n nuts in california go, you need to question why they dumped all that fresh water in the pacific, plus they did nothing, absolutely nothing to address future water shortages, but they sure found the means (revenues) to illegally support people who do not belong here (at least by their method of getting here). climate change aka global warming is a designed disaster to gain control of every household by promoting pending doom….i reference 1950 fed govt spraying san francisco & their mosquito project…..1953 project gabriel & sunshine……1959 disneys attempt to control weather…1960’s…..adapting to global “cooling”….. 1989 discovery magazine article on climate change along with the article from steve snyder……so who pushed this nonsense none other than “artic albert” himself who said there would be no ice – “”Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up,” the Australasian Antarctic Expedition said in a statement”…Australasian Antarctic Expedition said in a statement….had to be helo-lifted off the boat stuck in ice that they said was not there. add the founder of the weather channel stated its a hoax & power grab….there are no papers, journals, etc….every scientist that did not go along with the govt funded line are no longer part of the “team” & even an imbecile should question why are those left all have the rubber stamped line…? only a stumbling donkeycrat would take this bait & run with it

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Flawed story. We have NO IDEA how hot it was half a billion years ago.

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Wow. How do they know what the weather was like a half a billion years ago? I call a huge load of bull.

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    Do the world a favor and look up the difference between climate and weather.

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    They didn’t know the climate either. Maybe you do since you were there half a billion years ago. It’s still a load of bull.

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    And you’re basing this statement on what exactly?

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    That you weren’t there a half a billion years ago so how could you know? Nobody was there a half a billion years ago.

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    Anahow I see I’m dealing with an idiot so have a good life

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    Maybe instead of insulting me you should educate yourself. But it’s doubtful for someone as old and ignorant as you, who spent his studies learning the intricacies of a fairy tale to actually learn something I suppose. Enjoy your bliss.

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    Doesn’t change the fact it’s BS

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    Really? Are you sure about that? Or are you just unable to extrapolate? What part about this is BS exactly? Maybe I can help you through this difficult time of basic critical thinking. Or you can continue to call BS, proclaiming your statements fact based on nothing but a gut feeling and a whim.

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    And no fairies were involved, just the Creator. No fairy tales, just the truth. But unless you accept that God is your creator you will never understand and you will be mired in your ignorance

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    Stuart Mackey couldn’t god be warning us to do something about climate change… what if we are trashing our garden of eden… is that not a sin?

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    I agree we are trashing our garden. I work maintenance at the park and see it all the time. But don’t think that it can be fixed by us. It seems to be in our nature to be that way. Call me a pessimist in that regard.

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    Alex John DeKriek He didn’t even read the info you gave him, there’s no talking to people like him. Ignorance is bliss and an excuse to be mean to those who aren’t.

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What absolute tosh. Stop people breeding rather and sort out the real problem

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Better than heading for an ice age? Cup half full and all that. We’ll adapt. We have in the past.

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    Adaptation looks like what exactly to you… to me it looks like solar panels, carbon taxes, less meat consumption….

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How much taxpayer money is ECOSNIPPETS and its associates receiving? More CO2 means more plant growth. CO2 capture is also occurring.

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    There’s a point where to much CO2 can kill plants…. which is odd that I have to state that to you, given your horticulture background.

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    That concentration is over 1,500 PPM. At 1,500 PPM there is no added benefit and as the level increases plants are stressed. Greenhouse growing will often use levels well over 450 PPM.

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    Interesting, thanks for the more specific information.

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    I think the scale of co2 output is the issue.. also, what about secondary effects, desertification, plants dying off? I just read how in China they are planting millions of trees to combat climate change and smog, could be another tool we could use

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    What about the methane?

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This is the proposed warming if we keep burning fossil fuels at this rate, we will reach this level by 2250. I doubt we will do that. Even so, current levels are already way too high and CO2 lingers for a long time in the atmosphere, so we need to all understand the urgency. It’s not just about our own survival, countless species will not be able to keep up with the sudden change and become extinct, we are already seeing that right now.

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This is great! As the climate warms we will spend less on fossil fuel to heat our homes! Less need to heat means less pollution from burning fuels! Bring it on baby..cost me $4000 for propane to heat a small house.

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Is this the same outfit that said the polar ice caps would melt by the year 2000?

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Wasnt the earth covered in ice at one time and without global worming wouldn’t it still be here …just sayin ????

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Wasnt the earth covered in ice at one time and without global worming wouldn’t it still be here …just sayin ????

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Wasnt the earth covered in ice at one time and without global worming wouldn’t it still be here …just sayin ????

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…. en dat komt door Trump !!!!!!

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When you see all these comments calling this article bullshit, there is no much hope for our children. Mankind, really the stupidest and egoist animal on earth. Hope one day your grandchildren question you before you fucking die!

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What is ACTUALLY growing at an ever accelerating rate is TECHNOLOGY!!
Mankind will be powering life away from fossil fuels well within the next 420m years…likely within the next 50-100.
Solar, wind, hydro, are well advanced; before we even consider harnessing other forms of energy under study.
Enough with the scaremongering Ecosnippets; you discredit your otherwise good postings.

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Well then, stop driving and take planes out of the air.

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Stop using HARP then.

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Use more wood products. Plant twice as many trees. Repeat.

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Yep, midday here and a lovely 6 deg C

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But, but… the world is only a few thousand years old! How ya gonna ‘splain that, hmm?

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Fake data….fake forecast…

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Don’t trust ‘New Studies”. It’s propaganda. All life needs CO2. Be discerning.

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