And the microbes shall inherit the Earth

Oct 13, 2011 By Robert Perkins
USC Dornsife's David Bottjer is searching for clues to the future by examining the past. Photo by Philip Channing.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Global warming is not a novel phenomenon, and by studying what happened to the planet during a period of global warming about 250 million years ago, one USC Dornsife scientist hopes to discover what could happen to us this time around.

Of course, given that up to 90 percent of ocean species on went extinct during that period, it’s not surprising that the news isn’t good.
“Science shows that the earth is changing,” said David Bottjer, professor of earth sciences and biological sciences.

Global temperatures are up almost three-quarters of a degree Celsius over the past 100 years, with documented increases in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Regardless of the cause, scientists must grapple with the question “Is this something to worry about or not?” Bottjer said.

To answer that question, Bottjer turned to the past, examining fossil evidence of the planet’s oceans from hundreds of millions of years ago. He presented his findings on Oct. 11 at this year’s annual meeting of The Geological Society of America in Minneapolis.

Historically, rapid increases in carbon dioxide in the past that were due to natural causes have led to mass extinctions.

The most severe of these extinctions occurred about 250 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period. Though the exact cause remains the source of debate, one theory is that the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea drove increasing volcanic activity — activity that included magma erupting through coal deposits — which in turn dumped massive amounts of greenhouse gases such as into the atmosphere.

As the planet warmed by as much as 5 degrees Celsius or more, animals and plants on land and up to 90 percent of ocean life on Earth died.
“As it gets hotter, there are predicted consequences,” Bottjer said. Putting it mildly, he added, “Life on land and in the sea is stressed.”

Bottjer made three main predictions based on observations of what is occurring today and what occurred in the past:

• More CO2 will be absorbed by the ocean, making it more acidic. Among other things, we can expect to see the die-off of coral reefs, which also occurred at the end of the Permian.

will increase in abundance as other forms of life decline. “The animals are all dying off, and maybe the microbes get to take over,” he said. Though the coral will be gone, microbes will start building their own reefs in the ocean.

• A hotter atmosphere will slow ocean circulation. A slower ocean means less mixing, which in turn means that less oxygen is dissolved into the ocean. So called “dead zones,” where the ocean is anoxic and unable to support fish and other oxygen-dependant life, will appear. “We’re starting to see increasing oxygen minimum zones in the Pacific,” he said. “Expanding dead zones are developing off of Oregon and the Gulf Coast.”

Bottjer said he is not the only scientist turning his eye to the past for a glimpse at the future.

Other scientists perform similar studies using the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, which occurred about 55 million years ago. The warming event resulted in a global temperature increase of several degrees Celsius, Bottjer said.

“Although it will not be a perfect analogue, the end-Permian mass extinction ocean has much to teach us about the future ,” he said.

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User comments : 8

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hush1
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
The forthcoming thread commentary will be too hot to handle.
Birger
5 / 5 (5) Oct 13, 2011
The Permian die-off of reefs was not "coral reefs" per se, but rudist organisms that occupied the same ecological niche as today's corals.

Anticipating future comments: -Yes, this is relevant for today's warming -it shows us what to expect in a warming world.

-No, the temporary regional warming in Greenland a millennium ago (induced by altered ocean currents and jet streams) is not analogous to today's warming -we have a GLOBAL warming today.

-No, the *present* warming is well understood. The past Permian-Triassic warming happened a quarter of a billion years ago, which means the records are spotty, hence the cause is not as well understood. The *effects* of that event are however well documented.

-Yes, we have a global warming trend, documented across all continents. No conspiracy can be everywhere at once, except in the imagination. Yes, there is a "hockey stick" temperature graph.
plaasjaapie
1 / 5 (9) Oct 13, 2011
More warmist tent revivalism. In a moment they'll be passing the plate and promising eternal damnation if you don't beggar yourself paying them off.
omatumr
1 / 5 (11) Oct 13, 2011
Global warming is not a novel phenomenon


Thanks for the story and for introducing some reality into the global warming story!

Observations suggest changes in Earth's climate are controlled mostly by the Sun's compact, impulsive pulsar core [1-6].

1. "Suns motion and sunspots, Astron. J. 70, 193-200 (1965).

2. Prolonged minima and the 179-yr cycle of the solar inertial motion, Solar Physics 110, 191-220 (1987).

3. Cosmic rays and Earths climate, Space Science Reviews, pp.1555-1666 (2000)

4. "Super-fluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate", J Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002)

http://arxiv.org/.../0501441

5. "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun", E & E 20, 131-144 (2009)

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

6. "Neutron Repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press (2011)

http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://myprofile....anuelo09

http://dl.dropbox...reer.pdf
Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 13, 2011
Perhaps launching deep space probes changes the Earth's orbit.

I figure that due to conservation laws, whenever you launch a deep space probe to the outer solar system, you change the Earth's velocity by a tiny, tiny amount.

In launching just one of the Voyager space craft, the Earth's velocity in space should have been changed by at least 5.4 meters per year.

this is a very tiny amount, but after more than 30 years, that adds up to about 158 meters.

Not a big number at all on a per probe basis.

But if you are constantly pushing things out to the outer solar system, then by conservation laws, the Earth must be pushed inward towards the Sun.

Now if the Earth is pushed inward then it falls deeper into the Sun's gravity well.

Might it be that our mad quest for exploration has pushed the Earth closer to the Sun, causing the modern warming trend?

Ironically, most of the warming has happened in just about the past 40 years, neatly coinciding with... OSS probes.
tpb
1 / 5 (2) Oct 13, 2011
No, launching a rocket doesn't push the earth anywhere.
However using a giant catapult or cannon to launch the rocket would.
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2011
No, launching a rocket doesn't push the earth anywhere.
However using a giant catapult or cannon to launch the rocket would.


Conservation of momentum says you are wrong.

The propellant coming out of the rocket hits back on the surface (and/or the atmosphere) of the earth.

After it leaves the nozzle, the propellant mixes with the air, and some of it hits the ground at the launch pad, transferring an equal and opposite momentum to the combination of ground and atmosphere of the planet.

You want proof?

Go stand under your shower head, or better yet, if you have your own well and a pressurized water tank and pump, then your shower and hose work EXACTLY like a water rocket. The "propellant" being the water comes out with a force, which hits you, but it also pushes the hose in your hand.

Now, if you have a rocket that is already in space and you do a burn, you are partly right, at least for whatever portion of the propellant doesn't get later captured by the earth.
hush1
5 / 5 (1) Oct 14, 2011
lol Nano
Glade the earth doesn't have volcanoes. Unimaginable are the consequences to earth's orbit.