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Aug
13

Does anyone still think that we are intelligent?

Such a rapid pace of warming holds no corollary in either the Permian, the PETM or during any other major warming event visible in the geological record of Earth’s past.

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A Deadly Climb From Glaciation to Hothouse — Why the Permian-Triassic Extinction is Pertinent to Human Warming
In looking at the potential impacts of human caused climate change over the coming decades and centuries, scientists have often pointed toward more recent times such as the Eemian (the most recent …

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6 comments

  1. Edward Morbius
    Edward Morbius says:

    Climate science is not my specialty, but one observation:  the anthropogenic CO2 pulse is a one-time and short-lived event.  Even if wildly optimistic estimates of fossil fuels are true, and human civilization can survive the effects of their combustion long enough to sufficiently exhaust them, we're looking at a period of a few centuries at best during which CO2 is being released.

    Ice sheet melting, particularly of Greenland and Antarctica, will still take time.  And CO2 will be removed from the atmosphere (likely taken up by the oceans and greatly disrupting both chemistry and life there).  My read:  while the climate disruptions are likely to be sufficient to put a serious crimp into Industrial Age Humanity, and quite possibly h. sapiens as a species (to say nothing of collateral damage), I'm not strongly convinced we'll see total melt of Greenland and Antarctica to the point of bare land over both (and resulting higher albedo).

    We're applying a much higher carbon pulse than most known geological events, but it's going to be inherently limited in time scope.

    That said, looking at the temperature scales of those charts and contemplating a 6°C rise does give me pause to think….

  2. Jeff Howe
    Jeff Howe says:

    I strongly suspect +Edward Morbius is correct: there's an upper physical limit on what we can pump into the system in total, and an upper practical limit on what we can pump into the system per year, even if some places weren't attempting to throttle back.

    The results are likely to be nasty from our point of view, but less so in the geological scheme of things. I do think mass extinctions are still quite possible, though, since some of the areas hit hardest–coral reefs for example–are dense biomes.

  3. Edward Morbius
    Edward Morbius says:

    +Jeff Howe  Mass extinctions aren't a possibility, they're a reality.  Something on the order of 200-400 species per day by some estimates:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction

  4. Jeff Howe
    Jeff Howe says:

    +Edward Morbius True, but we can't pin the loss of the moa on carbon emissions. I meant systemic die-offs when biomes go under, in the "narrower" context of the climate discussion.

  5. Chris George
    Chris George says:

    Extinctions due to human activity are not restricted to climate effects. Most follow from ecosystem destruction and habitat loss.

    The problem with our carbon emissions is their speed. We have raised them 30X faster than any other period of warming in the paleorecord. The recent work being done in Greenland by Hubbard is pointing to processes that could replicate the events that caused much of the ice sheet to calve massive bergs, large enough to scrape the bottom of the ocean and raise tsunamis.

    Greenland Ice Sheet: "Starting to Slip"

    Sam Carana and group are also working on the methane release feedback that our CO2 has triggered in the Arctic. Jennifer Francis and group are following the broken jet stream and its effects on our recent weather.

    It may have been short, but it is likely too sharp for the planet to absorb. And the prospect for it not to stop until it must, due to loss of a stable biosphere, is pretty much a guarantee. Again, are we intelligent? Unlike the dinosaurs, we can see the asteroid coming. The asteroid is us.

  6. John Poteet
    John Poteet says:

    It turns out that the real threat of climate change is not general overheating or sea level rise but Rossby Wave Events.  This is the effect where large, stationary north-south waves in the Jet Stream get "stuck" over an area alternatively freezing some areas and either baking or drowning others. 

    It turns out that it's really hard to do "agriculture" when it rains 18 inches in three days or, alternatively, doesn't rain at all for nine months. 

    In short, we are fucked much sooner than previous estimates of the earliest "we're totally irreversibly fucked" date. 

    http://planet3.org/2013/02/26/science-climate-change-linked-to-large-scale-severe-events/

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/asia-fire.html

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