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Earth Science

Early Plants May Have Caused Massive Glaciation 174

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the plot-to-destroy-animals-failed dept.
sciencehabit writes with this excerpt from Science: "The first plants to colonize land didn't merely supply a dash of green to a drab landscape. They dramatically accelerated the natural breakdown of exposed rocks, according to a new study, drawing so much planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere that they sent Earth's climate spiraling into a major ice age."
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Early Plants May Have Caused Massive Glaciation

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  • Easy solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by no-body (127863) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:24PM (#38893871)

    Everyone put a new flowerpot up and water regularly to fight global warming

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:31PM (#38893965)
      1) We must conserve water
      2) Global warming is simply a return to the previous state
      3) If you're growing ganja, OK then.
    • Re:Easy solution (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:35PM (#38894001)

      A large-scale version of that is sometimes proposed [wikipedia.org]...

      • www.arborday.org

        Trees. Who doesn't love them? I refuse to live in domicile without at least a few trees nearby.

      • Re:Easy solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:35PM (#38896361) Homepage Journal

        Better yet, plant Food Forests!
        http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/Permaculture-Food-Forest/ [permaculture.org]

        Then the carbon not only gets locked up in the trees, but in the bodies of animals and people!

        • Unfortunately, for trees ever work for carbon capture they'd have to be converted into something that is trashed, or at least stored for a huge amount of time. Otherwise, the carbon will just go into the athmosphere again.

          So people, remember, next time you have a desire of recycling paper, contain yourself. And next time you go to the market, ask for your plastic bags. Let's help save the planet.

      • by no-body (127863)

        About trees and forests - I just ran across these numbers since there was a radio comment about trees not doing so well.

        There is a yearly forest condition report in Germany and 28 % of trees are not doing so well in the latest, 2011 report - that's up 5 % from the year before. One reason is stress caused by higher temperatures.

        And coming up in this context - German average forest area per person is 1200 sqm (square meters) - that's ~ 0.3 acres

    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      If you read TFA you'd see that the drop in CO2 levels wasn't caused by the plants absorbing it (although they did absorb a bit) but by the weathering the plants caused to the surface which exposed minerals that absorbed the CO2 directly out of the air. That still occurs today but it's very slow on human time scales.

  • not to mention... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwa2 (4391) * on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:24PM (#38893879) Homepage Journal

    flooding the atmosphere with a caustic, corrosive gas that could, in high enough concentrations, make just about anything burst into flame.

    • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:15PM (#38894517) Homepage Journal

      Well, at the time there was a major debate about whether or not that would happen. A lot of proto-Earth's top scientist algae were certain that releasing so much oxygen would irreversibly alter the environment and seriously affect non-oxygen-respiring organisms, but there were many plants who maintained that the young planet had already seen worse [wikipedia.org], and yet life existed in the current day despite that. What the poor, innocent archaeans who bought into all of this didn't realise was that the smooth-talking photosynthesisers were more interested in the production and stockpile of carbohydrates than the well-being of the other clades, and had already convinced themselves that whether or not the planet could support infinite population and ecological growth was not their concern.

      Conflict of interest: The author declares that she has no conflicts of interest and is clearly not trolling, nor taking a joke too far to farm karma.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:31PM (#38894723) Homepage

        Nothing but undeveloped, unevolved, barely conscious pond scum, totally convinced of their own superiority as they scurry about their short, pointless lives.

      • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:51PM (#38895039)
        I know you are being facetious, but the funny thing here is that if those events had not occurred, there would (very likely) be no large animal or plant life on earth. Radical change of the environment, atmospheric composition, and even the mass extinction of the majority of a whole taxonomic domain were necessary so that all the life we worry so much about today could exist at all. The problem with people today is that they are taught that we are living in The One True Sacred and Immutable Biosphere, and that if that biosphere changes, well, that's just the end of everything. The fossil record shows that time and time again biosphere changes are not only recovered from, but that the net effect is dramatically positive in terms of long term diversity.
        • by dotancohen (1015143) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:02PM (#38895935) Homepage

          The fossil record shows that time and time again biosphere changes are not only recovered from, but that the net effect is dramatically positive in terms of long term diversity.

          That is cute, but I cared about long term diversity of Earth's biosphere up until my kids were born. Now, I am interested in preserving the current state of biology, diverse or not.

          • Unless your kids are planning on living in a 3rd world hell hole, I'd rate their chance of survival as 'extremely high'. Even if environmental changes have a short term negative impact on resources that are important to people, we're the most adaptable things on earth. We can live anywhere and eat almost anything. Moreover, through technology we can adapt virtually any other lifeform to do the same (with enough effort), which is why people are able to farm deserts and drink seawater. Really the only reason
        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:10PM (#38896045) Homepage

          The problem with people today is that they are taught that we are living in The One True Sacred and Immutable Biosphere, and that if that biosphere changes, well, that's just the end of everything.

          You think the problem is that people believe climate change will result in the end of all life on earth, when in reality is that the biosphere will just keep on chugging. So if we solved this "problem", there'd be no reason to worry about climate change. That's what you're saying?

          You don't think the problem is, maybe, what might happen to us? That the one thing that is sacred about our current biosphere is that it's amenable to human habitation and survival?

          What I think is funny is that you missed the whole point of that story-- we are the anaerobic organisms. Go ahead and tell them that in the long term the biosphere will recover, and even thrive. You think they will feel better? Why does this make you feel better? Are you one of those hippies who thinks Gaia would be better off if humanity was extinct? Or do you just think our civilizations are so robust that they can weather any storm, even widespread ecosystem collapse, and you'll be fine?

          The fossil record shows that time and time again biosphere changes are not only recovered from, but that the net effect is dramatically positive in terms of long term diversity.

          Interesting assertion. I think the fossil record simply shows increasing diversity over time, with each mass extinction representing a huge backward slide in those terms, from which the biosphere eventually recovers. I'd like to see some evidence that, say, there was less diversity in the late Cretaceous, and more importantly that there'd be less diversity today if the KT event had not occurred.

          More to the point, though, why would this matter either way from the perspective of Tyrannosaurus Rex?

          • Humans are not like other animals. We are not dependent on a tight range of temperature, diet, or other factors such that we're all going to roll over if one metaphorical leg is removed. If another animal loses its primary food source, it goes extinct. If we lose a primary food source, we eat something else. We synthesize, design, control, analyze, adapt, repurpose, refine ... everything. We are not dinosaurs with nut-sized brains that can't even control their body temperature. If any species survives the n
            • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:32PM (#38897043) Homepage

              If another animal loses its primary food source, it goes extinct. If we lose a primary food source, we eat something else. We synthesize, design, control, analyze, adapt, repurpose, refine ... everything. We are not dinosaurs with nut-sized brains that can't even control their body temperature.

              So I guess everyone who has died or will die from famine is just a dinosaur with a nut-sized brain?

              That's a pretty bold statement of human adaptability coming from someone who would probably be unable to feed themselves the week after the grocery trucks stop showing up (or in the unlikely event you can, then from someone who hasn't thought about all their hungry neighbors who can't).

              You really don't seem to appreciate all the things that go into making modern civilization work, the long legs that support the technology you appreciate and assume would allow us to survive anything, but in reality could have the legs knocked out from underneath it rather easily.

              All we know is what did actually happen, and that is that all mass extinctions have had net positive effects in the long term

              Thanks for pointing to evidence that this isn't actually true -- even if I accepted the notion that increased diversity is in and of itself "positive", and even if I accepted that the extinctions have a causal effect .

              The graphs on the page you courteously linked to clearly shows several mass-extinctions where diversity recovered to an approximately equal value, but did not regain the same slope and instead leveled off. In at least one case it didn't even recover to the same level. The K-T event shows diversity recovering both the value and the steep slope of the Cretaceous. Which is not bad, but not evidence that the result post-KT was an "improvement".

              Even mass extinctions were not causal or catalytic, it is undeniable that they were not preclusive of those positive outcomes

              I'd say that the only thing that is undeniable is that over the extremely long-by-geological-standards term, diversity increased regardless of mass extinctions. Looking at periods of a mere 50-100 million years, I think it becomes much harder to argue that most mass extinctions didn't preclude the positive outcome.

              Of course that still assumes that more diversity -- when diversity is not already extremely low -- is "positive". That sounds like the same kind of arbitrary application of human value systems to morally-neutral nature that you accuse the "One Sacred Biosphere" people of. Just a different flavor of Hippie.

              What's really strange is that this is the second time in under a week that I've heard this same new, and highly bizarre, argument for why Climate Change isn't a big deal.

              • by khallow (566160)

                So I guess everyone who has died or will die from famine is just a dinosaur with a nut-sized brain?

                An irrelevant observation since the original poster's argument is not dependent on people never dying from starvation, but rather that the species is not so vulnerable. It's also worth noting that famine now is due to societal and infrastructure problems in a few countries rather than some flaw of humanity to adapt to changing circumstances.

                That's a pretty bold statement of human adaptability coming from someone who would probably be unable to feed themselves the week after the grocery trucks stop showing up (or in the unlikely event you can, then from someone who hasn't thought about all their hungry neighbors who can't).

                You really don't seem to appreciate all the things that go into making modern civilization work, the long legs that support the technology you appreciate and assume would allow us to survive anything, but in reality could have the legs knocked out from underneath it rather easily.

                Doesn't sound to me like you do either. What's the "easy" event that kicks over modern civilization and drives humanity to extinction?

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by Chris Burke (6130)

                  An irrelevant observation since the original poster's argument is not dependent on people never dying from starvation, but rather that the species is not so vulnerable. It's also worth noting that famine now is due to societal and infrastructure problems in a few countries rather than some flaw of humanity to adapt to changing circumstances.

                  It's irrelevant to point out that when a human population is denied its primary food source, it doesn't just instantly adapt to a new food source and carry on but rather suffers and dies in large numbers? When refuting the idea that if humanity's primary food sources go away we can just switch to another one no problem? Yeah, I think it's very relevant.

                  Aren't societal and infrastructure problems in countries that used to be able to feed themselves just changes that they should be able to adapt to? Why ar

        • by rwa2 (4391) *

          The problem with people today is that they are taught that we are living in The One True Sacred and Immutable Biosphere, and that if that biosphere changes, well, that's just the end of everything. The fossil record shows that time and time again biosphere changes are not only recovered from, but that the net effect is dramatically positive in terms of long term diversity.

          I would submit that the plants contribute to a net increase in entropy, and human activity is contributing to a net decrease in entropy (at least on environmental scales not related to transforming rocks into microprocessors).

          Also, the drastic environmental changes lead to a decrease in biodiversity (the simpler hardy stuff survives and prospers, think nothing left but grass, cockroaches, and jellyfish).

          Finally, I would submit that a lot of conservation is about doing more with less, and not necessarily doi

      • by Feyshtey (1523799)
        The EPA would have put a stop to this nonsense.
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      i know, what a crummy planet, right? and 80% of it is even covered in the universal solvent, dissolves most anything from gold to rock.

    • by trongey (21550)

      It appears that you actually did mention it.

    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      The flooding of the atmosphere with the caustic, corrosive gas occurred about 2.4 billion years ago, long before land plants appeared around 500 million years ago.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:33PM (#38893985)

    The headline says "plants MAY have started glaciation". The summary says "plants created a major ice age". The actual article says that some scientists did some experiments that could potentially indicate that the earliest plants may have been at the root of a positive feedback loop that ended in a major glaciation period. The amount of hedging in the actual article goes so far beyond the statement in the summary that I have to think the summary was deliberately written to mislead.

    I look forward to reading years from now how in the teens, scientists were all worried that more plants would turn the earth into an ice ball, and that everyone was told to cut down any green things they find.

    • by JTsyo (1338447)
      yea, not sure how the summary went from planet warming gas to ice age.
      • by JTsyo (1338447)
        reading the article cleared it up.
        • Reading the summary and knowing the meaning of the word "drawing" should have cleared it up.

    • by next_ghost (1868792) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:56PM (#38894277)
      Typical science news cycle [phdcomics.com] in progress...
      • by instagib (879544)

        This is a good one. The main culprit of this cycle seems to be the Uni PR office - if they wouldn't start to simplify the research results, they would only be picked up by those who understand it, and no dumbing-down-let's-all-panic-and-draw-wrong-conclusions cycle would start.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @03:14PM (#38895307)

      It's the Internet version of "Telephone." Except with the Internet you can actually follow the links back and see how the message changed with each hop. Fascinating, isn't it?

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > I look forward to reading years from now how in the teens, scientists were all worried that more plants would turn the earth into an ice ball, and that everyone was told to cut down any green things they find.

      Man, I never thought of that. PANIC! Cut down your trees! I'm buying stock in STIHL.

      • by Thing 1 (178996)
        I even know that it's a brand name, but when my brain saw a word in all caps it reflexively tried to disambiguate it; it got to "Shut the (in?) hell (low?)" -- but before the period, I realized all is well with the parser. :)
    • by Feyshtey (1523799)
      Weird. You mean that some random person would actually purposefully change verbage about a news item in an attempt manipulate public perception? Really? Damn good thing real journalists never do that.
    • Well I recall that something akin to this did happen in China. Mao in his infinite wisdom (or the wisdom of his advisors) decided that birds were eating crops so he had everyone go out and bang pots and pans around trees that birds were roosting in. They could not land, fatigued and millions, yes millions of birds died. The next few years witnessed plagues of insects eating crops, followed by famine.

      Don't underestimate either the stupidity of man, or the quick and important effect of large changes in an e

  • I don't know whether I should go out in the backyard and plant kudzu or burn tires!

  • by mr1911 (1942298) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:35PM (#38894017)
    Scientists have classified these plants as Republicans in order to keep the blame for climate change consistent throughout history.
    • Re:More results (Score:5, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:00PM (#38894339) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, no. Grow up. Scientists don't go around blaming republicans for doing much of anything other than lying about science, and that's just the politically active scientists.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DigiShaman (671371)

        Do people like Al Gore count too? Or does he get a pass because he's not a Republican? Just asking.

        • Do people like Al Gore count too? Or does he get a pass because he's not a Republican? Just asking.

          Manbearpig isn't a plant. Get your biology straight, man.

        • Al Gore wasn't lying .. he was ... just ... wrong .. yeah, that's the ticket!!

        • I can't even comprehend what this has to do with my post. Seriously. I can't seem to make a mental bridge here. The word "Republican" appears in both our posts, I guess?

          Please to be statement having more cogent.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:38PM (#38894051) Journal

    We need to get the DNA of these plants and reanimate them ASAP!

    • by sorak (246725)

      We need to get the DNA of these plants and reanimate them ASAP!

      We would also have to make the sun 6% cooler and remove all oxygen-breathing organisms.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:45PM (#38894127)
    The Medea hypothesis is the mirror of the Gaia hypotheis. Gaia says life is in ecological balance and self-balancing.

    Part 1 of the Medea hypothesis says that life isnt necessarily in ecological balance and sometimes overruns resources nearly killing itself off. Several past mass extinctions, particularly the Permian may have been caused by this.

    Part 2 says the ultimate end of life on Earth may be running out of CO2. CO2 has been falling from tens of percent on the early Earth to about one percent in the Phanerozoic to .025% now. (Human activity has temporarily raised it to .04%.) When CO2 falls below .01% then plants cannot survive and neither animals. Just bacteria. This is predicted in few hundred million years. Life consumes CO2 and buries in hydrocarbons and limestone. Unless some imbalance like humans come along, the trend is to pretty much lock up carbon for good.

    Geo-engineering CO2 increase is straight forward. Burn limestone to release CO2. There is 100x more carbon in limestone than hydrocarbons.
    • by UziBeatle (695886)

      Sounds good to me.

        I'm going to do my part by going out to buy mass quantities
      of Roundup (TM) and the like to hose down any
      greenery in my neighborhood.
        Doing so in full knowledge I'm doing ultimate good for
      dah whole world, despite what it does to my neighborhood
      lawns.

       

    • by DeathFromSomewhere (940915) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:57PM (#38894289)
      Volcanoes release massive quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere that was previously locked up in limestone. In fact the CO2 released by volcanoes is the main reason snowball earth came to an end.
      • by peter303 (12292)
        Correct. But Peter adds the Earth is cooling off and plate tectonics will slow down too. It looks like PT has been rpetty active for the past billion years. Earlier evidence is more sketchy.
        • by riverat1 (1048260)

          I read somewhere that there's enough energy inside of the Earth that plate tectonics won't stop before the Sun expands and engulfs the Earth around 4.5 billion years from now.

    • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:18PM (#38894553)
      Indeed, and it makes me want to slap the shit out of everybody who starts talking about 'carbon footprint'. Carbon is life itself.

      Everybody worried about global temperature should really take a look at temperature over geologic timescales. Two centuries ago it was colder than any other time in the last two millennia. That last two millennia have been colder than most of the last ten or so since the last glacial period. Glacial periods notwithstanding, the last few million years have been the coldest in the last hundred million years. Modern, industrialized mankind was essentially born during the coldest period outside of an actual glacial cycle. Modern meteorology/climatoloy started at the bottom of a very cold well, and now that we're starting to get to temperatures that used to be normal, we're freaking out just because we haven't had to deal with it before in a conscious way. E.g. last time it was this warm we were still performing human sacrifices to appease imaginary agents of dubious intent. This whole society needs a clue-by-four to snap them out of the delusion that warming is the end of the world and any more a threat to life than all the other environmental changes that have already killed 99% of all species that have ever existed.
      • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:59PM (#38895135) Journal

        Last time it was this warm we didn't have a massive modern civilization to support.

        If you're not worried about warming at all - say you live somewhere that will still have a secure food supply and won't be at any risk from harsher weather, and you have a FYGM attitude - maybe you should be worried about ocean acidification. Allowing runaway fossil carbon release because you don't personally mind the heat isn't even a viable option.

        • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @03:15PM (#38895313)
          I suppose you think the ocean has been the same pH forever too. Life adapts, and ocean life itself has shown an ability to spring back from as much as 90% species extinction. I'm not worried, especially as humans have the technology to build closed systems for environmental control and resource production/management. (Humanity too has sprung back from an immensely small population, as low as thousands at one point. We could lose 99.99999+% of our population and still have precedent for survival.)

          The truly ironic thing is that people will now jump up my butt about how cold I am and what about all those people who might die. The same critics who, in a different context would be whining about overpopulation. Let me break it to you, the only way it is physically possible to have less people is for them to die. There is no magical fairy dust that makes population lower without people pushing up daisies. The cognitive dissonance is staggering.

          (The double irony is that overpopulation is itself a myth, and anybody who knew anything about the real demographic data that shows that fertility rate has been on a downward rollercoaster for something like fifty years in almost every nation on earth. Population growth is leveling off, but that doesn't sell newspapers.)
          • by DogDude (805747)
            I'm not worried, especially as humans have the technology to build closed systems for environmental control and resource production/management.

            You're not worried because you're hopelessly naive.

            "Modern" people are so out of touch with the natural world because everything they need comes wrapped in a nice plastic container to their doorstep right now. I really can't wait to see the collective looks on their collective smug faces when food and water start to become scarce due to collapsing ecosystems.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Chris Burke (6130)

            I suppose you think the ocean has been the same pH forever too. Life adapts, and ocean life itself has shown an ability to spring back from as much as 90% species extinction.

            Yeah, and maybe ocean life will adapt in such a way to create a new equivalent to the Oxygen Catastrophe only this time with a gas that is toxic to us. I mean it's not like there would be any other repercussions to a a drastically more acidic ocean, and the resulting collapse of existing ocean ecosystems, am I right?

            I'm not worried, especially as humans have the technology to build closed systems for environmental control and resource production/management.

            No we don't. There is no such system. Everything that is pretending to be such a system is in reality dependent on an extremely long and broad pyramid of precursors that at many points could

          • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:56PM (#38896637) Journal

            So you'd prefer many human deaths, oceanic mass extinction and living in sealed dome environments to being more eco-friendly, and call anyone who thinks being more eco-friendly is a better solution a stupid alarmist.

            Maybe you should lock yourself in a room of pure CO2. After all, carbon is life itself, and I guarantee you no stupid alarmists will follow you in.

      • Sorry to disapoint you, but like our current situation with 15% of the US population under the poverty line and 46% (according to a recent research article) are 3 paychecks away from poverty. We have an unprecedented population on earth. The global warming is increasing desertification of large areas of the world. We are plowing under large areas of farmland for cities and other structures. Those idiots in the Amazon are cutting down our carbon sinks at an alarming rate.

        And our oil reserves are just about

      • It's not the warming per se, but the *speed* of it.

        As you say--in geological timescales, it's no big deal.  But we're talking about a significant increase in CO2 in a hundred freaking years.  That's lightning fast, and at best will cause only major famines and disease outbreaks.

        We have enough trouble feeding the people we have now, without a) adding another couple billion people and b) having to deal with massive climate change in a short period of time.
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      no worries, in 300 million years the earth will be too hot for multicellular life anyway due to expansion of Sun. Problem solved. And thus catastrophic global warming is guarenteed.

      • by peter303 (12292)
        The competing Gaia hypothesis says life may do something to counteract this. Possible a combination of changing the atmosphere to repel radiation and new biochemistry to live at 100C.
        • by iggymanz (596061)

          well, there already are sngle celled hypothermophiles that can live at over 120 degree C, but DNA and RNA itself comes apart at 150 degrees C., so that puts a rather huge constraint on what can form in this world. there are theoretical alien chemistries with other elements, but they can't form on present or future earth.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      There are a few things that release CO2... volcanos come to mind. And some of that is CO2 recycled from limestone.

      The current amount of life on the planet may be unsustainable, but it's not likely to be eliminated. It'll just die back a bit.

    • by JSBiff (87824)

      Wait, Peter Wards. . .

      Shouldn't it be:

      Tyler Perry Presents. . .

      Tyler Perry's "Medea Hypothesis"

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      A year ago when we had this discussion, I responded "But what will the trees breathe?" and got marked troll. Oh well.

      But seriously, I can see a possible counterbalance. At least in the US, we have been artificially repressing naturally occurring forest fires for over an hundred years. Could it be that periodic mass forest fires are one of nature's answers to too much carbon sequestering?

    • Burning limestone to release CO2. Isn't that how we make Portland Cement?

  • by s_p_oneil (795792) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:52PM (#38894221) Homepage

    ...major ice age which killed most of the plants, causing them to decompose and release the carbon again, starting an enormous cycle that is still going on today.

    What is the moral of this story? Don't mess with the global carbon cycle if you don't want the Earth's climate to change enough to kill "most of us". Having said that, I'd rather live on a warmer world than a giant ball of ice. But I'm thinking there's probably a sweet spot somewhere between ball of ice and mosquitos the size of your head coming to give you drug-resistant malaria and dengue. If the latter happens, I'll probably carry a racquetball racquet with me everywhere I go (just in case). I don't think the DEET spray will cut it at that point.

  • by PortHaven (242123)

    So us crazy whack-O, "It's not man's CO2 emissions to blame for warming." May in fact be right.

    I've argued against man made CO2's effect, but have been very vocal in that I think deforestation is far more to blame for climate change.

    Now it looks like you're finally admitting what I've know all along. A little gas is one thing. Chopping down 20% of the rain forest...BIG EFFECT

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:27PM (#38894673) Journal

      They're two sides of the same problem, on one hand we're moving more CO2 from the ground to the atmosphere and on the other we're reducing nature's ability to put it back (at the very least, when rainforests are cleared and the trees are burned), but you can't put the blame on one factor and not the other - and if you try you'll find that it's much harder to squeeze the blame onto deforestation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by srmalloy (263556)

      From the article:

      About 460 million years ago, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere ranged somewhere between 14 and 22 times the current level, and the average global temperature was about 5C higher than it is now.

      From www.globalchange.gov:

      Based on scenarios that do not assume explicit climate policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global average temperature is projected to rise by 2 to 11.5F by the end of this century

      Taking the data on trends in carbon dioxide [noaa.gov] measured at Mauna Loa, the 1960 concentration of CO2 was 320ppm. Taking an extreme value for annual increase in CO2 from their data of 2 ppm, doubling the CO2 concentration from the 1960 value wuold take 150 years, and increasing it to fourteen times the 1960 value -- a (low estimate) CO2 concentration at which the average global temperature was 5C higher -- would take almost 2000 years. But we're expected to believe the

    • by scot4875 (542869) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:49PM (#38895007) Homepage

      Now it looks like you're finally admitting what I've know all along. A little gas is one thing. Chopping down 20% of the rain forest...BIG EFFECT

      Yeah, good for you. Have a nice little pat-yourself-on-the-back-for-being-so-smart? Now recognize that both in combination have a greater effect than either one alone, and you'll be right there with the rest of us.

      --Jeremy

      • by PortHaven (242123)

        No, no, no...

        I've been repeatedly told that deforestation and heat island effect are inconsequential.

        Now you say they're two sides of the coin. Before it was inconsequential.

        Hmm...what do you think that makes me think? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. But it makes me think the climate change (realclimate.org) folks are fucktards lying out their rears.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by deander2 (26173) *

      ohhhh.... you know, good point. i bet those thousands of independent scientists worldwide who've been studying global warming for decades forgot all about deforestation as a possible cause. it's a good thing concerned citizens with awesome gut instincts like yourself are around to show them the way! :)

      • by PortHaven (242123)

        Hmm...

        Well, I tend to be out the experts. I've beat every single bubble and bust in the market since I've been of age.

        Ironically, every time the so-called experts seemed to be wrong. One other fact I noticed, those so-called experts were usually politically or financially connected.

        Lastly, there are thousands of scientists who disagree and question. But it's a hard thing to do, you're likely to lose your career doing so.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We need to ramp up our deforestation programs. We're in a race here, gentlemen! Either it's the plants, or us.

  • Seriously, we need to get plants to mars that can break down the rocks and provide an atmosphere.
    • From what I understand (IANAA - I am not an astronomer), the reason Mars doesn't have any atmo is that it lacks a magnetic field. Lacking a magnetic field, the Solar Wind strips away the atmosphere.

      Also, in order to have plants that can break down the rocks, you must first have enough atmosphere to support the plants.

    • Seriously, we need to get plants to mars that can break down the rocks and provide an atmosphere.

      Sounds like a recipe for harsh living conditions. I wouldn't want another China on our hands.
      I'll only support your agenda if the Martian Plant workers are allowed to unionize.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @04:53PM (#38896587)
    (1) Biosphere: (medium) abundance of plants and peat deposits, waxing and waning with ice ages. Changes over 10,000s years.
    (2) Plate tectonics: (long) carbon capture in limestone, release from subduction volcanoes, possible permanent burial in subduction. Plates change speed, length of subduction zones over 100,000s to millions of years. Limestone contains 100 times the carbon in the biosphere and draining out the atmosphere over 100s of millions of years.
    (3) Human: (short) deforestation, extraction and combustion of hydrocarbons. Just centuries. Deforestation will reach steady state soon like in North America and Europe. We are probably midway through 300-400 year "hydrocarbon age" of consuming all the extractable petroleum, natural gas and coal.

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