Friday, July 18, 2008

On the Horizon of the Azolla Event

It's pretty well known by now that CO2 levels in the atmosphere has been increasing slightly. And by slightly, I mean relative to (pre-)historical levels. Current levels are 390 ppm by volume, and global warming hysterics are running around warning that the sky might fall. Yawn.

In fact, the CO2 level in the Triassic period was 1750 ppm, and take note of this: the polar regions did not have glaciers, and were warm and temperate regions!!! In fact, cold blooded vertebrate such as reptiles were able to live at the poles, which is impossible today.

CO2 levels declined slowly during the Jurassic period, and during the Eocene period, a sudden(even catastrophic) bloom of a freshwater fern Azolla broke out in the then-not-as-cold Arctic Sea, in what is called the Azolla event. The fern consumed huge amounts of CO2(from 3500 to 650 ppm!!!) from the atmosphere, and sank to the bottom of the sea, where they were incorporated into the bed sediment and locked in with their corresponding loads of carbon. The decrease in CO2 levels and corresponding greenhouse effect caused the Earth's climate to change from a 'greenhouse' to an 'icehouse'. This also caused sea levels to drop, obviously.

CO2 levels continued to decline, until they were barely above the 'suffocation' level(200ppm) for plants. In fact, we are in a global ice age, though you would not have guessed it judging from the idiots in the media and pseudo-scientific institutions warning of anthropogenic global warming.

Where am I going with all this? All this is just evidence that Earth's environment can easily deal with hotter climes, and in fact may be a good thing, as higher CO2 levels will encourage biosphere growth, especially for plants and cold blooded species. It's also an indicator that perhaps we have less to do with increasing CO2 levels as we thought. And finally, I don't feel it's a big problem. Warmer temperatures on Earth would probably mean less deaths due to extreme cold(more people die every year from cold weather than from hot weather). Ocean acidification? If it's not a problem millions of years ago, it's not going to be a problem now either.

The only possible drawback that should be taken into account would be geological factors, especially considering the erosion of the continents hundreds of millions of years after the Triassic. Back in the prehistoric times, some of the continents were virtually submerged, like Europe, for example. Further denudation of shorelines in the millions of years since would probably mean a decrease in the land surface of Earth. Which is obviously not a good thing. Substantial energy would need to be expended to construct barriers against the sea as the sea level rises.

As a matter of fact, the greatest limitation and danger now facing human civilization is not global warming, global cooling, or whatever. It's access to cheap energy. Give me a cheap and plentiful source of energy, and anything becomes possible. Let's hope the Polywell fusion reactor pans out.


Blogger Graycrow said...

You are correct, enerqy is the issue!

4:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

How about some links to your sources?

10:52 PM  
Blogger endbit said...

It's not the change that concerns me it's the rate of change. If we learn nothing else from the geologic record it's that sudden change is very good at killing things and in geologic terms the rate we are increasing co2 is lightning fast.

1:18 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I agree that a warmer world might not be bad. But The effects of the change, including the rise in sea levels could be difficult to deal with for the people alive at the time the change happens. If all the ice in the world melts, the sea level could rise about 260 feet. This would cover much of the food producing land in the world.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Fake Nick Denton said...

you are aware that rapid climate change will wipe out agriculture in california, desertify the american southwest, plunge the entirety of the american south into a permanent water crisis, eliminate the glaciers in asia that provide water (and therefore food) to nearly a billion people (leading, potentially, to resource wars between some the most overpopulated nuclear-armed countries on earth), and, in short, make it extremely hard for you to live the life that you have grown accustomed to?

or, I'm guessing: you didn't

9:23 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

As Fake Nick Denton says, although the Earth and the survivers of the Human race could cope with much warmer conditions, it would be hard for the people and animals alive at the time of the change, especially if it happened quickly. By the way, to avoid confusion, I am a different Steve from the other Steve who commented although I agree with him.

11:35 AM  
Blogger whit said...

Like you and unlike Al Gore and much of the world, I do not think the debate is settled but assuming that we are entering a warming period, I like to look on the bright side of global warming and rising sea levels. Optimistically, I see:

New opportunities for sustainable, new urbanist type development.

An economic boon to economies as redevelopment occurs along "new coastlines."

Formerly, inhospitable lands more amenable to human habitation.

Advances in more affordable energy technology.
The whirled would be better served by realizing that man is, if anything, adaptable. Young people such as yourself must find ways to make your voices heard above the din of the small minded scare mongers with hidden agendas.

4:45 AM  

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