A Return to the Green House World

 In global warming, Whales

As you perhaps already know, the level of carbondioxide, CO2, in the atmosphere is measure in parts per million (PPM.) For the last million years that level has never exceeded 280 PPM, yet in may of this year – because of deforestation, industialization and burning of fossile fuels the number rose to an alarming 400 PM. I’ll cut right to the chase here – because although 400 PPM is a sad new record the global warming in the next decades will leave that milestone way behind. At the current pace we’ll reach 800-1000 PPM well within a century. Your kids will live to see it.

According to a recent article posted on Science Daily, those PPM numbers equate a primordial greenhouse world, and that should leave you very worried indeed. In the greenhouse world tropical ocean temperatures reached 35°C – too high to sustain coral reefs as we know them, and even the polar seas were 12°C. In such oceans coral reefs mostly disappear, leaving the seabed instead to be dominated by foraminifera, piles of single-celled organisms.

Disappearing reefs will obviously disrupt whole food chains – the reason sharks, whales, seals, seabirds and other large animals at sea became abundant in the recent “cold” geologic times, was that algae eventually became large enough to support a tiered ecosystem with larger predators at the top.

Paleobiologist Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, whose original review article appeared in the Aug. 2 edition of esteemed journal Science (with various co-authors), explain that the problem with oceans reverting to ecosystems based on smaller picoplankton, is that “The tiny algae of the greenhouse world were just too small to support big animals. It’s like trying to keep lions happy on mice instead of antelope; lions can’t get by on only tiny snacks.”
If we were to somehow turn a giant switch and all of sudden completely put a halt to the burning of fossil fuels, the expected period of climatic unrest is projected to last less than a thousand years, before earth will restore itself to a pre-industrialized equilibrium. If, on the other hand we continue to burn fossil fuels at current levels till the end of the century if will result in major ecological changes lasting 20.000 years or more. Longer than the entire length of recorded history.

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