Current pace of environmental change is unprecedented in Earth's history

January 5, 2016

University of Bristol Cabot Institute researchers and their colleagues today published research that further documents the unprecedented rate of environmental change occurring today, compared to that which occurred during natural events in Earth's history.

The research, published online on 4 January in Nature Geosciences reconstructs the changes in (pCO2) during a global environmental change event that occurred about 120 Million years ago. New geochemical data provide evidence that pCO2 increased in response to volcanic outgassing and remained high for around 1.5-2 million years, until enhanced organic matter burial in an oxygen-poor ocean caused areturn to original levels.

Lead author Dr David Naafs explained: 'Past records of must be well characterised if we want to understand how it affected or will affect ecosystems. It has been suggested that the event we studied is a suitable analogue to what is happening today due to and that a rapid increase in pCO2 caused ocean acidification and a biological crisis amongst a group of calcifying marine algae. Our work confirms that there was a large increase in pCO2. The change, however, appears to have been far slower than that of today, taking place over hundreds of thousands of years, rather than the centuries over which human activity is increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. So despite earlier claims, our research indicates that it is extremely unlikely that widespread surface ocean acidification occurred during this event.'

The observation that yet another putative 'rapid' geological event is occurring perhaps a thousand times slower than today and not associated with widespread surface has been the focus of much recent research at the University of Bristol. Co-author Professor Daniela Schmidt, who was also a Lead Author on the IPCC WGII report on Ocean systems, emphasised that today's finding builds on one of the IPCC's key conclusions: that the rate of environmental change occurring today is largely unprecedented in Earth history. She said, 'This is another example that the current rate of environmental change has few if any precedents in Earth history, and this has big implications for thinking about both past and future change.'

The research was possible due to the exceptional Spanish section that the team analysed. Co-author Professor José Manuel Castro of the University of Jaen adds, 'The sediments at Cau accumulated very rapidly resulting in an expanded section. This allowed the high resolution multidisciplinary analysis that are the basis for this important study.'

Senior Author and Director of the University's Cabot Institute, Professor Rich Pancost, added, 'We often use the geological record to help us test or expand our understanding of climate change, for example, determining the sensitivity of Earth's temperature to higher CO2 levels. But testing the risks associated with the pace of modern is proving problematic, due to a lack of similar rapid changes in the geological past. Consequently, these risks, in this case to the marine ecosystems on which so many of us depend, remain associated with profound uncertainty. Decreasing CO2 emissions, as recently agreed in Paris, will be necessary to avoid these risks.'

Explore further: Speed of ocean acidification concerns scientists

More information: B. D. A. Naafs et al. Gradual and sustained carbon dioxide release during Aptian Oceanic Anoxic Event 1a, Nature Geoscience (2016). DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2627

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dogbert
1.6 / 5 (19) Jan 05, 2016
Really? Nothing in the earth's history compares with the climate we see today?

Chicken Little is working overtime and hyperventilating.
krundoloss
3.7 / 5 (12) Jan 05, 2016
I find it hard to believe that large scale volcanic activity would be slower than our production of CO2 from pollution/deforestation. However, I am beginning to suspect that whatever happens will happen faster than we suspect, taking less than 100 years to cause real problems for us humans. If we can hold it together and do a little better with population control, resource management and production, I think it will be OK. I just hope we can keep the oceans healthy, because it is so critical to the health of the Earth and its ability to support life.
dogbert
2.2 / 5 (15) Jan 05, 2016
krundoloss,

Unfortunately, massive resources are allocated to climate but almost nothing -- not even lip service -- to the population problem.
gkam
2.8 / 5 (20) Jan 05, 2016
dogbert can help by not breeding.
HannesAlfven
2 / 5 (17) Jan 05, 2016
It's important to realize that a foundational assumption in geology and other planetary sciences today is that we can understand the past and future by simply looking at the present. It's called uniformitarianism.

In other words, slow, gradual change is already baked into our theories at the point of the initial hypothesis. This is an example of how science goes awry, because what sense at all does it make to subsequently postulate claims like this article, that rapid changes have never occurred? It was already assumed, and that assumption is implicit in every single proxy data that is ever taken.

Modern science journalism has lost its way, as the journalists are no longer apparently aware of any of the underlying epistemology, and they only act as conduits for the claims of the scientific community. The public lacks an independent voice in the reporting.
Eddy Courant
1 / 5 (11) Jan 05, 2016
So let's for the moment pretend that we are not here. But the "rapid" (cough) climate change is. How is it being recorded now in tree rings, ice cores and the like for those millions of years from now to discern it? Hmm..
SteveS
4.5 / 5 (13) Jan 05, 2016

Unfortunately, massive resources are allocated to climate but almost nothing -- not even lip service -- to the population problem.


"Public expenditures for family planning services totalled $2.37 billion in FY 2010"

http://www.guttma...erv.html
dogbert
1.5 / 5 (11) Jan 05, 2016
SteveS,

The United States is not experiencing uncontrolled population growth. The amount of money spent in the U. S. to make it convenient for women to have abortions does nothing to slow or contain the unconstrained population growth in undeveloped and underdeveloped nations.
Multivac jr_
3.8 / 5 (16) Jan 05, 2016

The United States is not experiencing uncontrolled population growth. The amount of money spent in the U. S. to make it convenient for women to have abortions does nothing to slow or contain the unconstrained population growth in undeveloped and underdeveloped nations.


And in a mere two sentences, you managed to fill this thread with stupid. Thanks for keeping it concise, at least.

Laniakea
4 / 5 (8) Jan 05, 2016
Let people deny overpopulation, perhaps humanity has to learn by pains
antigoracle
1.3 / 5 (12) Jan 05, 2016
All those who believe the world is overpopulated, tell us why are you still here? We can certainly agree that the world would be better without you, so what are you waiting for?
aksdad
1.9 / 5 (14) Jan 05, 2016
This study doesn't show unprecedented environmental change, it shows CO2 change. That's it. Inferring environmental change from CO2 change is uncertain at best. Current trends of atmospheric warming, ocean pH change, and sea level rise are not necessarily unprecedented and don't seem to be affected by CO2 nearly as much alarmists think. See for yourself:

Sea level rise (satellite, 1993-present):
http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

Sea level rise (tide gauge, 1807-present):
http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/tide-gauge-sea-level

Atmospheric warming (HadCRUT4, 1850-present):
https://crudata.u...RUT4.png

Atmospheric warming (proxies, 12,00 years):
https://en.wikipe...ions.png

Atmospheric warming (proxies, 800,000 years):
https://en.wikipe...plot.svg

And IPCC AR5, Chapter 5 states that sea levels were at least 5 meters higher during the last interglacial period.
aksdad
1.4 / 5 (10) Jan 05, 2016
dogbert and Laniakea, what "overpopulation"?

The earth has resources to sustain a human population several times larger than the current 7 billion or so. Nevertheless, population growth is waning and in the next 40 years it will have peaked at between 8 and 10 billion, or an increase from today of about 8% to 35%.

https://en.wikipe...pulation

Meanwhile, thanks to freedom and technology, we have become increasingly efficient at producing food and energy and consuming energy. That's the natural trend of (free) human societies and there is no reason to believe that trend will reverse.
Mike_Massen
3.2 / 5 (13) Jan 06, 2016
dogbert *should* know better yet is being obtuse & disingenuous with
Really? Nothing in the earth's history compares with the climate we see today?
Chicken Little is working overtime and hyperventilating
Ah so context means nothing to you & still denying essentials re rate of change as CO2 foundation for enthalpy change
http://woodfortre...esrl-co2
So dogbert, inference & deduction aren't your strong points, then what are please ?

krundoloss considered
I find it hard to believe that large scale volcanic activity would be slower than our production of CO2 from pollution/deforestation.
See my link, there's a small pinatubo bounce circa mid 1991, sad fact is anthropogenic CO2 emissions still far ahead of natural (pre-industrial era) sources as inferred re the same link...

Oil industry estimate of some 2-3 years ago was equivalent to 230,000 Liters of petrol (equiv as octane) each & every second, appears likely to have gone up since then...
Mike_Massen
3.2 / 5 (13) Jan 06, 2016
aksdad claims
...Inferring environmental change from CO2 change is uncertain at best
No ! Its based on enthalpy, you've been show this before, known for ~100yrs, never refuted ie
https://en.wikipe...transfer
leads to
https://en.wikipe..._forcing

aksdad Fails in reporting claims
.. and don't seem to be affected by CO2 nearly as much alarmists think
Taking links in turn:-

1 SL rise 75mm rise since 1996, note higher rate from 2015
Very heavily averaged - absorbs higher near equatorial rises Eg Bangladesh, Tuvalu
2. SL rise, old by 4 yrs, doesnt show 2015 in 1.
3. AW old but, note high peaks 2015 > trend
4. AW old, only to 2004, 12K yrs ago pointless as ignores "Rate of Change" (RoC)
5. Disingenuous, swamps recent RoC

aksdad says
..IPCC AR5, Chapter 5 states that sea levels were at least 5 meters
So what ?, essential issue clearly RoC, your agenda to obfuscate current problem by being disingenuous precedes you !
barakn
3.6 / 5 (14) Jan 06, 2016
It's important to realize that a foundational assumption in geology and other planetary sciences today is that we can understand the past and future by simply looking at the present. It's called uniformitarianism.

In other words, slow, gradual change is already baked into our theories at the point of the initial hypothesis. -HannesAlfven

Another example that demonstrates why no one listens to Hannes. First of all, his definition of Uniformitarianism isn't stated correctly. It's better paraphrased as "the same geological processes occurring now occurred in the past at the same rate." Second of all, if geology still clung to this ~230 year-old idea, then there would be no dinosaur-killing asteroid impact theory, no theory of mega-floods from glacial Lake Missoula, no Theia impact/Moon formation theory, etc.. The fact is that Uniformitarianism has been supplanted by Catastrophism, the realization that unusual events can and do happen.
my2cts
5 / 5 (8) Jan 06, 2016
It's important to realize that a foundational assumption in geology and other planetary sciences today is that we can understand the past and future by simply looking at the present.

All anybody has is the present, which contains accurate records of the past, and science to enable predictions.
It's called uniformitarianism.

It's called making observations and using your brains.

In other words, slow, gradual change is already baked into our theories at the point of the initial hypothesis. ... It was already assumed, and that assumption is implicit in every single proxy data that is ever taken.

You have to prove that. Bad accusations without proof == lies.

Modern science journalism has lost its way,

Science journalism is irrelevant. Science is.
independent voice

We have that. It's called science.
my2cts
4.6 / 5 (9) Jan 06, 2016
This study doesn't show unprecedented environmental change, it shows CO2 change. That's it. Inferring environmental change from CO2 change is uncertain at best. Current trends of atmospheric warming, ocean pH change, and sea level rise are not necessarily unprecedented and don't seem to be affected by CO2 nearly as much alarmists think. See for yourself:

Sea level rise (satellite, 1993-present):
http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

And IPCC AR5, Chapter 5 states that sea levels were at least 5 meters higher during the last interglacial period.

All the data you link to support AGW, at least do not disagree with it.
jeffensley
1 / 5 (6) Jan 06, 2016
Atmospheric warming (proxies, 12,00 years):
https://en.wikipe...ions.png


Terrifying. It's hard to believe the Earth survived coming out of the last Ice Age. Look at that trend-line!
Vietvet
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 06, 2016
Atmospheric warming (proxies, 12,00 years):
https://en.wikipe...ions.png


Terrifying. It's hard to believe the Earth survived coming out of the last Ice Age. Look at that trend-line!


Can't even post a working link.
my2cts
5 / 5 (8) Jan 07, 2016
Atmospheric warming (proxies, 12,00 years):
https://en.wikipe...ions.png


Terrifying. It's hard to believe the Earth survived coming out of the last Ice Age. Look at that trend-line!

The great flood mythology emerged in that period, in which nearly all humans and animals are said to have been eradicated. The sea level rose by 30 meters. Many species disappeared. What are you trying to suggest, that nothing happened?
Mike_Massen
3.2 / 5 (11) Jan 07, 2016
jeffensley being vague & unscientific with
Atmospheric warming (proxies, 12,00 years):
https://en.wikipe...ions.png
It's hard to believe the Earth survived.... Ice Age. Look at that trend-line!
The correct link is
https://crudata.u...RUT4.png

An "Environmental Scientist" shouldn't be focused on belief, so to blurt that "..hard to believe.." is not only unscientific its not relevant and NOT consistent with your claim to be a university trained Scientist.

Especially so as the evidence is clear you have nil understanding of radiative transfer or psychrometry - these are KEY issues within Environment Science, why don't you at least
take it on board re existing status of accelerating global warming and get a firm grip re the Maths you should have learned re Integration ie As to why its reliable and valid to Integrate of chaotic issues such as combustion & heat flow Eg Engine ECUs ?

Yes jeffensley, LOOK at the trend line !
jeffensley
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2016
The great flood mythology emerged in that period, in which nearly all humans and animals are said to have been eradicated. The sea level rose by 30 meters. Many species disappeared. What are you trying to suggest, that nothing happened?


So Biblical stories are now evidence of the catastrophic nature of change? The species that disappeared were specialized to cold climates. It's not tragic, it's why life still exists here. It's not like a 30m wall of water wiped life away, though sea level rise WAS far greater then than the estimated 1-3mm/year we are currently experiencing. It's just nice to have some context.
my2cts
5 / 5 (7) Jan 08, 2016
@jeffensley
These are not just biblical stories, they occur in all cultures in the Middle East and seem to come from the oldest literate culture, that of the Sumerians. Regardless of the stories, obviously a 30 meter rise of the sea level washes out all human settlements at the coast and should have led to catastrophic floodings.
See https://en.wikipe...s_ago.29
my2cts
5 / 5 (7) Jan 08, 2016
By the way I said "great flood mythology" precisely because the Bible is the best known but absolutely not the original source of these stories.
Mike_Massen
2.8 / 5 (9) Jan 08, 2016
jeffensley kneejerk & obtuse
So Biblical stories are now evidence of the catastrophic nature of change?
No !
my2cts made it clear "mythology", didn't notice ?

jeffensley disingenuous & tangential again claims
The species that disappeared were specialized to cold climates. It's not tragic, it's why life still exists here
Inappropriate, any loss of a species reduces diversity as such reduces adaptation potential for related species remaining - isn't there a position about this in "Environment Science" ?

jeffensley says
It's not like a 30m wall of water wiped life away, though sea level rise WAS far greater then than the estimated 1-3mm/year we are currently experiencing
So you are implying there was time for species to move & thus your suggestion the species disappeared shouldn't be accepted, or can jeffensley clarify the contradiction?

jeffensley pollyanna sentiment
It's just nice to have some context
Which ignores contemporary Rate of Change !
Mike_Massen
3 / 5 (10) Jan 08, 2016
FWIW
Many bible adherents claim worldwide evidence for the "flood" & thus infer Noah existed but, they fail to appreciate many early cultures settled in/near coastal regions & river deltas for easy access to fish & exploit the generally fertile river delta sediment, especially so when transport was sporadic & even then most often in small groups.

As a consequence probability of flood occurrence would be high & thus those reporting them either by observation or through the chain of witnesses; their stories, exaggerations etc have become allied with claims of a deity whilst weaving in the causality excuse the deity punished us

Still so many irrational people claim, at the drop of a hat, the last tsunami(s) were punishment but, fail to offer sane excuse re the innocents, eg children, those already punished (ie sick) for the sins of their political masters ie As one imam claimed re Indonesia 2004... There's still Nil evidence of any god's ability to communicate well
my2cts
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 08, 2016
jeffensley kneejerk & obtuse
So Biblical stories are now evidence of the catastrophic nature of change?
No !

It is not because there is no god that everything the bible says is without foundation.
"god" is just a millennia old and outdated rationalisation of nature.
Mike_Massen
2.6 / 5 (10) Jan 08, 2016
my2cts offered
It is not because there is no god that everything the bible says is without foundation."god" is just a millennia old and outdated rationalisation of nature.
Indeed and fwiw at many levels, the most abstract I've come across is buried in Hinduism which claims numerical relationships re the rate brahma sustains the universe at (iirc) some 3 billion times in the blink of an eye, implying the universal view is created & destroyed as equivalent to 'appearance to mind' at that rate and although it seems to point to a planck time, its still a stretch but, does raise a philosophical question as to how it was arrived at given it's some 3000+yrs old...

Can be fun "discussing" the evidence of attributes of any claimed creator & especially so when is claimed its personal & loving yet grants us free will but, without key education. Interesting how such discussions can bring out hidden almost solipsistic/ego interpretations like the viko_mx's etc ;-)
rrrander
1 / 5 (6) Jan 09, 2016
Why are the enviros all trying to prevent natural change? True, it is a waste of time to try, but what is their ultimate goal? Or is this just taking another stab at resurrecting failed world socialism in another disguise? That is the ultimate goal, the planet controlled by a single entity (them). When they start using terms like "environmental justice" and "social equality" in conjunction with climate, you KNOW what they are really up to.
dogbert
1 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2016
rrrander,
When they start using terms like "environmental justice" and "social equality" in conjunction with climate, you KNOW what they are really up to.


Spot on. AGW has always been a vehicle for the advancement of socialism. Notice how every article about anthropogenic global warming -- er, climate change -- has the obligatory redistribution of resources through carbon taxes or other means?

my2cts
5 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2016
@dogbrain,ranter
Especially justice who needs that?
Precisely, commies do.
Shootist
1 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2016
Current pace of environmental change is unprecedented in Earth's history


and man was never meant to fly.
Mike_Massen
3.2 / 5 (11) Jan 10, 2016
dogbert Still ignoring the Physics claims
Spot on. AGW has always been a vehicle for the advancement of socialism
Any evidence for this ?

An emotional obviously facile & absolute term "always" betrays emotional attachment which is pretty common by those ignoring Physics or you are alluding to a worldwide conspiracy which has to include all Universities which study, experiment on & write papers of radiative transfer and can somehow couple this into a global political agenda ?

How in the hell is that possible dogbert ?

Have you noticed conspiracies aren't well managed on even small local scales (Watergate etc) & you hand-wave implication it works perfectly with universities & countries worldwide ?

dogbert with absolutes again
..every article about anthropogenic global warming -- er, climate change -- has the obligatory redistribution of resources through carbon taxes or other means?
As in article you mean "all" scientific papers ever ?
my2cts
5 / 5 (6) Jan 10, 2016
Current pace of environmental change is unprecedented in Earth's history


and man was never meant to fly.

Maybe we were. Maybe we are intended to destroy ourselves.
That would explain why there are so many morons.

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