A Few Things Ill Considered

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

Friday, November 03, 2006

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Sobering Lessons from the Past

There is a lengthy and interesting post on ScienceBlogs by GrrlScientist today about The Great Dying:
The Great Dying was the largest mass extinction event on earth. It occurred approximately 251 million years ago and marks the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods, commonly known as the PT boundary.

Apparently some new evidence is pointing to a massive buildup of CO2 and a resulting global warming as the culprit. The source would have been extreme volcanic activity.

This event saw the extinction of 96% of all marine life and 70% of all terrestrial life.

In what could very (very) indulgently be called "missing the point" style, the very first commentor somehow found this all reassuring. It was not caused by humans and SUV's before (ok) so therefore it is not being caused by humans and SUV's today (sorry, doesn't follow) so therefore...err, what would be reassuring about that again?

Suggested reading for PiGuy:

Happily, llewely, another commentor often seen fighting the Good Fight around the climate blogs, provided PiGuy with the first link above.



  • At November 03, 2006 9:30 PM, Blogger Bill said…

    Nice new research. I remember using this extinction as a reason to mitigate global warming in a high school paper I wrote 6 years ago. I guess they were certainly hypothesizing that CO2 increase was the main cause then.

  • At November 04, 2006 12:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sobering lesson? Hardly. No mention is made of what levels CO2 reached. That would seem to be a rather important point.

    Just another daily dose to remind us of our upcoming enviro-apocalype; unless we repent of our CO2 sinning ways.

    - Paul G.

  • At November 07, 2006 1:10 PM, Blogger Lloyd Flack said…

    I think the Great Dying permanently changed the biological communities in a way that made a repeat less likely.

    The replacement communities that evolved tended to be composed more active organisms less vulnerable to extinction events.

    I do not belive that the current biota would suffer as severe an extinction rate if put under the same environmental stresses. It wpold still be amass extinction though.

  • At November 07, 2006 1:29 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Interesting notion. Evolution at work. But one wild card today is the preexisting pollution and general environmental degradation.

  • At November 08, 2006 12:44 AM, Blogger Lloyd Flack said…

    Habitat fragmentation and destruction are the main agravating factors at present. Habitat fragmentation makes it difficult for ecosystems to adjust to trmperature changes by moving.

    Ironically the World had the opposite problem in the Permian. Less of the Earth was capable of supporting complex ecosystems.

    There was only one continent leading to more of the land being desserts or under ice. Also less of the ocean would have been continental shelf.


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