Back to the Future: Paradise Lost, or Paradise Regained?

Guest post by Paul MacRae

The USA as it appeared during the Miocene ~15 million years ago – Credit: Ron Blakey at Northern Arizona University – click image for further information

In June, a NASA climate study announced that the warm middle Miocene era, about 16 million years ago, had carbon dioxide levels of 400 to 600 parts per million. The coasts of Antarctica were ice-free in summer, with summer temperatures 11° Celsius warmer than today. The study concluded that today’s CO2 level of 393 ppm was the highest, therefore, in millions of years, and could go to Miocene levels by the end of the century[1]. It was implied, although not directly stated, that readers should react with horror.

A UCLA team, writing in Science, had already pushed the Miocene button in 2009, claiming: “The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today [15 million years ago, again the mid-Miocene]—and were sustained at those levels—global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit [2.7-5.5°C] higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland.”[2] Back to the Miocene! Scary!

James Hansen, the alarmist head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), regularly refers to past eras as a warning of the climate catastrophes that could occur today. For example, in 2011 Hansen warned: “[An increase of] two degrees Celsius is guaranteed disaster…. It is equivalent to the early Pliocene epoch [between 5.5 and 2.5 million years ago] when the sea level was 25m (75 feet) higher.” [4] Back to the early Pliocene! Horror!

And, in testimony to the U.S. government: “The Earth was much warmer than today in the early Cenozoic [which began 65 million years ago]. In fact it was so warm that there were no ice sheets on the planet and sea level was about 75 meters (250 feet) higher.” [5] Heavens! The planet could revert to the age of dinosaurs! (Hansen didn’t mention that sea levels today are 120 metres—almost 400 feet—higher than they were a mere 15,000 years ago, without creating a catastrophe.)

If we don’t curb our carbon-emitting ways, the alarmists warn, we face “increasingly radical temperature changes, a worldwide upsurge in violent weather events, widespread drought, flooding, wildfires, famine, species extinction, rising sea levels, mass migration, and epidemic disease that will leave no country untouched.” [7] The only catastrophe not mentioned here is “acidification” (i.e., a slight decrease in alkalinity) of the oceans.

If a warmer, more CO2-rich world would be hell in the future, it logically must have been hell in the past, too, when global temperatures were much warmer and carbon dioxide levels much higher. How could anything live, for example, in those “acidified” oceans of the Miocene? At least, this is what alarmist climate scientists like Hansen want the public to believe.

An Eocene ‘paradise’

Curiously, while alarmists warn about the horrors of returning to the climate of millions of years ago, paleoclimatologists tell a different story. They more often see our earlier planet as a “paradise,” even “paradise lost.”

In fact, “paradise lost” is the subtitle of a 1994 book on our planet 33 million years ago by veteran paleo-climatologist Donald A. Prothero—The Eocene-Oligocene Transition: Paradise Lost. The Eocene (55-33 million years ago) began what is sometimes called the Golden Age of Mammals. This geological age was at least 10°C warmer than today, free of ice caps, and with CO2 levels, Prothero suggests, of up to 3,000 parts per million, which is almost eight times today’s level of about 400 ppm. Yet Prothero calls the Eocene a “lush, tropical world.”[8]

At the end of the still very warm Oligocene (33-23 mya), Prothero puts CO2 levels at 1,600 ppm, or four times today’s levels.[9] Prothero’s 1994 CO2 estimates may be a high, but no one—not even Hansen—denies that CO2 levels were several times higher than today’s in the Eocene and Oligocene and, indeed, right down to the Miocene (23-5 mya).

For Prothero, the boundary between the Eocene and Oligocene was “paradise lost” because it was then, about 33 million years ago, that the planet began its slide from a “lush, tropical world” into its current ice age conditions (see Figure 1), with glaciations every 85,000 years interspersed with brief, 15,000-year warm interglacials.

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Figure 1: Falling temperatures over 65 million years. Source: Global Warming Art.

In fact, the planet is currently its coldest in almost 300 million years. Yet, for Hansen and others in the alarmist camp, our ice-age world is in danger of getting too hot—maybe even as hot as the Pliocene, or the Miocene, or the Oligocene, or even, heaven forbid, the Eocene.

Many other writers on paleoclimate also use the term “paradise” to describe climate in the distant past. For example, in a history of evolution for younger readers, science writer Sara Stein paints the Eocene of 50 million years ago as follows:

“The world that all the little brown furry things [mammals] inherited from the dinosaurs was paradise. [emphasis added] The climate was so mild that redwoods, unable now to live much further north than California’s pleasant coast, grew in Alaska, Greenland, Sweden, and Siberia. There was no ice in the Arctic. Palm trees grew as far north as 50 degrees latitude, roughly the boundary between the United States and Canada. Below that subtropical zone—that was similar to Florida’s landscape today—was a broad band of tropical rain forest.”[10]

Sounds grim, doesn’t it?

One of the most prominent climate alarmists, Tim Flannery, also uses the “p” word when he describes Eocene North America in his very readable The Eternal Frontier,on the geological and biological history of North America. Flannery writes:

When Earth is warm (in greenhouse mode)—as it was around 50 million years ago—North America is a verdant and productive land. [emphasis added] Almost all of its 24 million square kilometers, from Ellesmere Island in the north to Panama in the south, is covered in luxuriant vegetation.[11]

Flannery titled the section of the book that deals with the “verdant and productive” Eocene as: “In Which America Becomes a Tropical Paradise.” Yet this was a time, it should be remembered, when temperatures and CO2 levels were much higher than today’s. Unfortunately, trapped in his alarmism, Flannery doesn’t see the irony.

British paleontologist Richard Fortey describes the landscape of Australia 20-35 million years ago, during the Oligocene and Miocene, as being “as rich as Amazonia, green and moist, with trees and ferns in profusion.”[12] Today much of Australia, an area the size of the continental United States, is desert and bush and supports only 22 million people compared to 300 million in the U.S.

As recently as 125,000 years ago, the peak of the last interglacial, our planet was 3-5°C warmer than today at the poles according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) itself, with sea levels 4-6 metres (12-20 feet) higher than today’s interglacial so far.[13] Even Britain was semi-tropical, with hippopotami gamboling in the Thames, apparently untroubled by extreme weather events, extreme droughts, extreme flooding, etc.

A mere 7,000 years ago, during the Holocene Optimum period that was at least 1°C warmer than today, much of the Sahara Desert was green, as were many other regions that today are desert.[14] Why? Because warmer temperatures mean less polar ice, making more water available for precipitation, and therefore promoting a greener planet.

So, millions of years ago, during geological eras much warmer than ours, with much higher levels of carbon dioxide, the planet faced the same environmental hazards as today—volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and the like. But it was not plagued by the extreme weather events, extreme droughts, extreme flooding, mass extinctions, or even the ocean “acidification” claimed by climate alarmists for the world of the future.

Sea level ‘disaster’?

On only one point have the alarmists got it right: during these warmer times of the geological past sea levels were higher, sometimes many metres higher—a point Hansen mentions again and again in his presentations.

For example, Hansen notes that while only two per cent of the Earth’s land surface is within 10 metres of sea level, this two per cent also has 10 per cent (more than 630 million) of the world’s population. Hansen says a five-metre (15 foot) rise would, without costly dikes or other measures, inundate many large cities, including New York, London, Shanghai and Tokyo. This sea level increase, he concludes, would be “disastrous.”[15] Hansen even seriously predicts five metres (15 feet) of sea-level rise by the end of the 21st century under a Business As Usual carbon scenario.[16]

However, most climate scientists—even alarmist scientists—know that Hansen’s predictions are hallucinations and accept that a sea level rise of this magnitude could only take place over centuries and millennia, just as sea levels today have taken 15,000 years to rise 120 metres (400 feet).

For example, in 2006 the Sierra Club released a map of Victoria, British Columbia, flooded by a sea-level rise of from six to 25 metres (see Figure 2). The Sierra Club predicted that if we did nothing about carbon emissions, flooding of this magnitude could occur “in the lifetime of our grandchildren,” that is, within the century.[17]

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Figure 2: Victoria, B.C., under water ‘in the lifetime of our grandchildren,’ according to the Sierra club.

Even University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, an arch-alarmist, was moved to protest against this barrage of exaggeration and misinformation, writing to the Victoria Times Colonist letters page: “The science suggests serious societal consequences of global warming in the short term, while the changes in sea level that the Sierra Club tout happen over thousands of years. [emphasis added] This clumsy story just makes it easy for the deniers to claim there is no problem.”[18]

The ultra-alarmist site de Smog Blog also joined the chorus against the Sierra Club’s absurd apocalyptism with a blog entitled “Sierra Club drowns in own climate catastrope” (the de Smog headline writer apparently could not spell “catastrophe”).

In other words, in the real world (as opposed to Hansen’s world), sea-level rise of any magnitude will take centuries and even millennia. The current rate of sea-level increase is just over 2 mm a year, or about 20 cm per century. At this rate—and at the moment the rate shows no signs of increasing—sea levels would take 2,500 years to reach Hansen’s five metres. Based on several interglacials over the past 600,000 years, which at their peak had sea levels several metres higher than today’s levels according to the IPCC, the seas would rise five metres or more even if human beings didn’t emit carbon.

Coping with sea-level rise

Can humanity cope with rising sea levels, whatever those levels may be? If climate alarmists don’t cripple our carbon-based economy, even the IPCC predicts that both developed and developing countries will have all the prosperity they need to cope with rising sea levels, be it seawalls, landfill, or relocations to desert and polar areas that, thanks to warmer temperatures and greater precipitation, are now fit for settlement.

Figure 3 shows GDP per capita for four of the IPCC’s climate scenarios, from Business As Usual (A1) to anti-carbon, between 1990 and 2100. In all four scenarios, humanity becomes better off, but humanity is best off in the red-line, A1 scenario, which is basically Business As Usual.

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Figure 3: Figure 3: GDP per capita 1990-2100. The red line represents the IPCC scenario with the least attempt to stop climate change, which makes humanity the richest. Source: Arnell et al., 2004. [19]

In the red BAU scenario, the world’s per capita income will rise from $5,000 a year in 1990 to $70,000 a year in 2100, based on 1990 dollars. In other words, if we do nothing at all to try to stop global warming, by 2100 even poor countries will have the resources they need to adapt to climate change, whether warmer or cooler.

And, again, a warmer, wetter planet would “green” many of the world’s desert regions, including the Sahara and Australia, just as warming did in ages past. Meanwhile, thousands of square miles of land currently under ice or Arctic scrub would be open to settlement.

A wetter, greener world

And this still doesn’t take into account the positive effect of higher levels of CO2 in fertilizing plants. Physicist and biologist Sherwood B. Idso, who has specialized in charting the relationship between CO2 and plants, notes:

A simple 330 to 660 ppm doubling of the air’s CO2 content will raise the productivity of all plants, in the mean, by about one-third. … As atmospheric CO2 concentrations more than double, plant water-use efficiencies more than double, with significant improvements occurring all the way out to CO2 concentrations of a thousand ppm or more.

Think of what such a biological transformation will mean to the world of the future. Grasslands will flourish where deserts now lie barren. Shrubs will grow where only grasses grew before. And forests will make a dramatic comeback to reclaim many areas presently sustaining only brush and scattered shrubs. [20]

Sound utopian? Even the IPCC acknowledges that doubled CO2 levels can produce increases of up to 33 per cent in plant growth, while also making plants more drought resistant.[21]

Millions of years ago our planet was much warmer and wetter than today, with much higher levels of CO2. Alarmists like Hansen say a return to those temperatures and CO2 levels would be catastrophic. Yet our planet in earlier geological ages is almost always described as a tropical paradise, not a blasted, carbon-choked hell. Sea levels were higher, but a prosperous humanity can cope with higher sea levels.

However, the huge Antarctic ice cap—the “deep freeze” in our planet’s basement—didn’t exist in the Eocene or Oligocene. So even if the catastrophic warming hypothesis is valid—that’s doubtful, but if—it’s unlikely our planet will go back to Eocene or Oligocene warmth.

But if, as alarmists warn, we return to the Pliocene, or even the Miocene, would that be paradise lost? Or paradise regained?

Paul MacRae is a former journalist who now teaches writing at the University of Victoria. He is the author of False Alarm: Global Warming—Facts Versus Fears (Spring Bay Press, 2010). His website is paulmacrae.com. The book is available at springbaypress.com.

Sources

[1] “Study finds ancient warming greened Antarctica.” NASA website, June 17, 2012.

[2] “Last Time Carbon Dioxide Levels Were This High: 15 Million Years Ago, Scientists Report,” Science Daily, Oct. 8, 2009.

[3] James Hansen, “G-8 Failure Reflects U.S. Failure on Climate Change.” Huffington Post, July 9, 2009.

[4] Hansen, Address to American Geophysical Union, December 2011.

[5] Hansen, “Statement of Witness James E. Hansen.” No date given.

[6] Hansen, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009, p. 265.

[7] Nuclear lobbyist John Ritch. Quoted in Tom Zoellner, “Nuclear power gets its swagger back.” Globe and Mail, March 14, 2009, p. F5.

[8] Donald R. Prothero, Eocene-Oligocene Transition: Paradise Lost. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1994, p. 35.

[9] Prothero, pp. 22, 238

[10] Sara Stein, The Evolution Book. New York: Workman Publishing, 1986, pp. 245-246.

[11] Tim Flannery, The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and its Peoples. London: Vintage, 2002, p. 84.

[12] Richard Fortey, Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998, p. 270.

[13] IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers, p. 9.

[14] See Wikipedia “Holocene climatic optimum” and “Green Sahara” for details.

[15] Hansen, “Climate Catastrophe.” New Scientist, July 28, 2007.

[16] Hansen and Makiko Sato, “Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change,” 2011.

[17] “Rising ocean would flood much of Greater Victoria.” Victoria Times Colonist, Dec. 6, 2006.

[18] Andrew Weaver, “Scary story sets back understanding.” Letter, Times Colonist, Dec. 8, 2006.

[19] Nigel Arnell, et al., “Climate and socio-economic scenarios for global-scale climate change impacts assessments: Characterising the SRES storylines.” Global Environmental Change, 14 (2004), p. 9. See also Indur Goklany, The Improving State of the World. Washington, Cato Institute, 2007, pp. 303-309.

[20] Sherwood B. Idso, “Carbon dioxide and global change.” Rational Readings on Environmental Concerns, Jay H. Lehr, ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold 1992, p. 422.

[21] IPCC 2001, Chapter 3, Section 3.2.2.4, p. 195. See also IPCC 2007, Working Group III, Chapter 3, Section 3.2.1.6, “Land use change and land use management.”

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87 thoughts on “Back to the Future: Paradise Lost, or Paradise Regained?

  1. If you watch How The Earth Was Made, then the Sahara goes green/dry every 20,000 years because of the earth’s tilting.

  2. Maybe Ephesus can once again become a major port and population centre set in lush countryside, as it was in the time of St Paul, as opposed to the run down place many miles from the sea in barren countryside it is today

  3. For those enamored by the phrase “tropical paradise” … have you ever *lived* in the tropics. And I don’t mean visited a nice beach resort. And Hawaii is not typical of tropical climates. I know there are some nice tropical places, but it’s not all a bed of roses! Don’t forget to factor in tropical diseases, malaria, intense rain storms and landslides, erosion, etc., etc.

  4. There are far more to affect climate/temperature than CO2. to claim that today’s atmospheric CO2 levels are the highest for a million years does not consider that the proxies used to guess the past levels may be inaccurate and that measurements, observation!, taken in the 1890’s found levels up to 450ppmv.
    The above post is pure alarmist claptrap.

  5. Very good article. However, I think you should have included some comment on demographics. If the catastrophists don’t mess it up, the world’s population will not only grow richer, it will peak at 10 billion and probably begin to fall after that. Fertility rates fall when people are able to pull themselves out of poverty and that includes using more energy.

    If the energy use of the poorest people is constrained they will stay poor and population will rise indefinitely.

    I recommend Hans Rosling’s TED talks. In general he toes the party line on global warming (he wouldn’t get the speaking gigs otherwise) but he has some of the best put downs for the “hard core environmentalists”.

    http://www.ted.com/search?q=hans+rosling

  6. Yep: that there paradise is normal for this planet. The ice age which started
    2.5-3 million years ago has had many stadials and as many interstadials with
    more to come.
    Jo Nova has a great article— a guest post from David Lappi—with pictures, of
    the temperatures over the last 64 million years. One graphic shows the temperatures
    over the last 10,000 years—from the GISP2 Greenland ice core. The modern time
    is at the end of the Little Ice Age, which was one of the coldest times of the Holocene.
    The graph shows the long term trend as clearly: down—we could be heading into the next glaciation (or stadial) real soon! I would much rather “paradise” than another
    stadial! Bring it on.
    (mods: possible h/t: http://joannenova.com.au/2010/02/the-big-picture-65-million-years-of-temperature-swings/ )

  7. The first thing that led me to cry foul on the C in Cagw was what I had learnt in school about temperatures in Earth’s pre-historic past.

  8. Nice post, Paul. Anyone who can’t follow that needs professional help.

    Years ago in grade school, I was taught pretty much the same geological history that you have neatly laid out. For years, CAGW was just background buzz to me. Then when the ‘cure’ for CAGW was being pushed (the cure being to return to hunter-gatherer times after giving up all my money to government entities and carbon trading schemes) the beginning of my “Hang on there a moment” reaction was rooted in simple grade school knowledge of earth’s geological past.

    The place where I sit this very moment was covered in a mile of ice not very long ago and beneath me, about 30-40 feet under the dirt, is a 150 foot layer of limestone laid down when this property was covered by a shallow sea. Unprecedented my Aunt Fanny! What’s all the fuss? What is supposed to be so alarming? The only thing alarming to me is that some people are making a grab for my wallet under false pretenses.

  9. Just a few thoughts. If temperatures in the mid-Miocene were 10 Deg F higher than today with similar Co2 levels, why are we not experiencing those temperatures now, this clearly this shows a disconnect between Co2 and temperature,
    What is not explained is how that mid-Miocene temperatures were distributed around the planet, the poles were obviously warmer, were the mid latitudes the same as today?, if they were, then a paradise indeed, sea level rise we could cope with, as more land becomes available, assuming Co2 is driving it. and there is enough evidence to cast doubt on that.
    The trouble with climate science is that it covers a huge number of disciplines which are largely working in isolation, science has advanced it’s knowledge, but until cross disciplines start working closer together the truth about the climate will be hidden for longer. I truly believe there is more yet to discover than we already know. No need to panic yet!

    Keith Gordon

  10. @fredb, yes I have and do, as a matter of fact.

    Malaria is easily dealt with by chemicals and has been successfully eradicated in many parts of the world. It’s not a tropical disease, either, just to inform you. You can get it anywhere.

    Large rainfall is great for water resources and just needs good flood planning and mitigation (ie, dams), which, coincidentally, help immensely with agriculture. Which also grows very well in tropical areas.

    Landslides and Erosions are just a matter of engineering and planning, and making sure vegetation and agriculture is well managed.

    Now, the question is : how on earth does anyone live in one of those snow-bound regions? You must be all stark raving mad to live somewhere where the weather can kill you. And don’t get me started on people who live in active earthquake areas.

  11. You have a mistake in your initial paleogeography map. The map you have displayed is from the Pliocene at 3 Ma. Here’s the link to the original work :

    http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/rcb7/nam.html

    You will will see the map is identical to the one you display.

    Here’s is the link to the Miocene at 15 Ma :

    As you can see, this is substantially different than the map you have captioned. For non-geoscientists, note that the paleo-shoreline is a function sea level changes & tectonic changes, so the shoreline you see in these images isn’t driven strictly by changes in climate / changes in sea level, so it isn’t strictly an apples to apples comparison (ie – our current tectonic setting has evolved from the Miocene).

    You should give credit to Ron Blakey at Northern Arizona University for these paleogeographic maps. He has produced a whole series of these paleogeographic maps , which are an amazing resource. Here’e a link to all his North America maps :

    http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/rcb7/nam.html

    And a link to all of his work :

    http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/rcb7/regionaltext.html

    REPLY: Fixed, thanks sincerely for pointing this out. The mistake was mine, not Paul MacRae’s. My original source was not that website, and didn’t offer any context besides labeling the map erroneously. – Anthony

  12. You need to look at the ecology at a point where the climate is changing rapidly not at a point when it has had millions of years to adapt to the change.

  13. Fred, I live in the topics, right on the equator. Its simply wonderful. Hot, sunny rainy. Lush Jungle, cool streams, no need to wrap up, vast array of foods in garden year round, and in the jungle. Just breath the ozone rich air after a huge thunderstorm as the rain boils off and steam envelops the roads.

    Fantastic coral beaches, varied wild life, coral reefs, the list goes on.

  14. Thanks for this article, Paul… makes so much sense one had to wonder, yet again, how the mob was so successfully $tampeded.

  15. This is what I’ve been saying for some time. Yes, it’s warming a little bit. But a warmer climate is actually better! Even the IPCC report says that the benefits of global warming outweigh the negatives at least up to +2C. We should be hoping for global warming!

  16. Increasing CO2 is a beneficial effect of human life and industrialisation.

    Reduced land area of vegetation is a harmful effect. Environmentalism needs to focus on preservation on green area, and avoidance of toxic releases to the environment, and preventing biological species loss.

    But it should stop wasting time and effort on the non-problem of increasing CO2. (Decreasing CO2 on the other hand WOULD be a problem.) Human poverty and exploitation are problems 1000 times more significant than CO2. CAGW is a total scam.

  17. `the planet is currently its coldest in almost 300 million years. Yet, for Hansen and others in the alarmist camp, our ice-age world is in danger of getting too hot—maybe even as hot as the Pliocene, or the Miocene, or the Oligocene, or even, heaven forbid, the Eocene.`

    Well, that`s it then! I`m off to buy a Coal fired power plant and ramp up our CO2…

    We gotta get warm… :)

  18. Good article. The warmist’s apparent belief that the current climate is optimal and should remain static is never challenged. I don’t seem to see much in the way of challenges to the notion that they can control the climate. Maybe just a skeptical snort.

  19. There are gains and losses with any gradual temperature change, but the fundamental fallacy here is to ignore the ice-core lesson that CO2 has no significant effect on temperature.

  20. What if Cagw is all wrong but we are still headed for higher temps from a natural change in climate? We need to be looking at adaptation a lot closer before we spend all the earth’s resources trying to stop a phenomenon over which we have no control. This article helps.

  21. Hansen didn’t mention that sea levels today are 120 metres—almost 400 feet—higher than they were a mere 15,000 years ago,

    That’s 8mm per year. Looks like the rise in sea levels has slowed down! Probably the increased CO2 boiling off the oceans.

  22. Crazy Koreans! They voted unanimously to introduce a carbon price. Maybe they’re fools, or maybe they understand science and don’t like the sound of heatwaves, droughts, storms and flooding associated with climate change. They’re in drought right now.

    At least they have the sense to join the dots and recognise the connection between rising greenhouse gases and extreme weather events. In contrast, your hapless author clutches at straws to claim it will be tropical paradise everywhere.

  23. Gillian says:
    July 24, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Crazy Koreans! They voted unanimously to introduce a carbon price. Maybe they’re fools, or maybe they understand science and don’t like the sound of heatwaves, droughts, storms and flooding associated with climate change. They’re in drought right now.

    And how. pray tell, is a Korean carbon tax, going to make any difference to heatwaves, droughts, storms and flooding. If you could only explain that… we could all get on board the CO2 gravy train choo choo. GK

  24. The original study said “CO2 levels were thought to be 400 to 600 ppm”.

    What they meant was “We’re assuming CO2 levels were this high even though the actual estimates from the period are much lower but, hey, this is climate science so we can just make stuff up and take advantage of really large error margins etc.”

    Here are ALL the actual CO2 estimates going back 40 million years. There is a spike or two here or there but, for the most part, CO2 has been below 280 ppm for the past 24 million years.

    There is no correlation to the temperature estimates either including the warm Miocene period from 17.0 Mya to 14.5 Mya or when Antarctica glaciated over 33.55 Mya (with CO2 levels at 1400 ppm or 2.5 doublings).

  25. I note that the recent author of the Skeptic magazine piece gets mentioned. Interesting that many of those who fear a warmer climate nevertheless call it a “paradise” when it happened in the past…

    A little bit of interesting information about the Eocene: It has long been recognized that the Eocene had an “equable” climate, with a greatly diminished equator to pole temperature gradient. Specifically we know that there were Alligators in Spitzbergen, indicating significant warmth at high latitudes relative to the present (and lots of other indicators of this, too). However, the earliest analyses concluded, interestingly enough, that the temperatures in the Tropics may have been a few degrees cooler. Naturally, attempting to explain this epoch with CO2 and models failed to get these important details correct. A lot of effort then went into “correcting” the Tropical data. It now seems that the equator could have been a few degrees warmer than the present, but the temperature gradient is still reduced much more than models can seem to explain. But some are now arguing that the evidence that has been used to constrain the tropical temperatures doesn’t really do so at all, so any levels may have been present!

  26. Actually those ideas of an ice-free Earth before the Miocene are definitely wrong. Ice-rafted debris in the North Atlantic shows that there have been tidewater glaciers in East Greenland at least since the Late Eocene, and Pliocene deposits in Jameson Land shows that the huge ice-carved fiords in East Greenland already existed in essentially their modern form by that time.
    In Antarctica there were also at least local glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula by the middle Eocene (40-45 million years ago) and there were probably icecaps inland in East Antarctica even earlier though the ice did not reach the coast on a large scale until the early Oligocene, about 35 million years ago.
    As a matter of fact the existence of abrupt (tens of thousand years) sea level changes on the order of tens of meters during the Cretaceous can only be explained by the growth and melting of fairly sizable ice-sheets, presumably in inland East Antarctica. There are Early Cretaceous glacial deposits in South Australia which was contiguous with Antarctica at that time.
    Indeed, if one accepts the usual figure that sea-level would rise about 70-80 meters if all ice melted, then the only interval during the last 100 million years that might have been completely ice free would be a few million years during the Early Eocene climatic optimum about 50-55 million years ago.

  27. @Gillian

    Do you deny the paleoclimatic evidence presented by those maps and at the website? Do you figure that the Miocene was actually a time of nothing but climate catastrophes?

    Every statistical analysis of severe storm, drought, hurricanes, etc. show that the frequencies are dropping, not increasing. The “historical” drought in the US this year is not as bad as the one in 1934. Temperatures may be rising slightly — though nothing statistically significant since 1998, according to Hansen — but they are not matching the predictions made by the alarmists, nor are they causing worldwide disasters.

  28. “…The ultra-alarmist site de Smog Blog also joined the chorus against the Sierra Club’s absurd apocalyptism with a blog entitled “Sierra Club drowns in own climate catastrope” (the de Smog headline writer apparently could not spell “catastrophe”).”
    Or perhaps he is a Jimmy Durante fan and actually meant ‘catastroscope’.

  29. fredb says:
    July 24, 2012 at 2:05 am
    For those enamored by the phrase “tropical paradise” … have you ever *lived* in the tropics. And I don’t mean visited a nice beach resort. And Hawaii is not typical of tropical climates. I know there are some nice tropical places, but it’s not all a bed of roses! Don’t forget to factor in tropical diseases, malaria, intense rain storms and landslides, erosion, etc., etc.

    Tropical diseases are a legacy of poor sanitation, lousy mosquito eradication programs, and poverty — it’s an issue of economics, not of climate. As for malaria —

    the most catastrophic epidemic on record anywhere in the world occurred in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, with a peak incidence of 13 million cases per year, and 600,000 deaths. Transmission was high in many parts of Siberia, and there were 30,000 cases and 10,000 deaths due to falciparum infection (the most deadly malaria parasite) in Archangel, close to the Arctic circle.

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/08/30/mosquitos-malaria-and-the-ipcc-consensus/

  30. Are you saying that I won’t have to molly coddle my tomato plants? I won’t have to move them to wherever “warm” is at the moment? I won’t have to drench them in water and fertilizer? I won’t have to parse out my meager bounty and will be able enjoy their flavor for more than a day here and there? I can actually take a few days vacation and my toms will be fine till I get back??? Excellent. We need more coal so we can warm up this planet!!!

  31. So americans will have to grow and eat rice instead of wheat or corn.

    And goodbye to Florida.

  32. Thanks for the credit to Ron Blakey for his paleogeographic maps—-he was on my thesis committee.
    That Eocene Optimum was a period during which many carbon rich petroleum source rocks were deposited. Perhaps we can help return to paradise by finding all those sequestered hydrocarbons and burning them!

  33. LazyTeenager says:
    July 24, 2012 at 7:04 am
    So americans will have to grow and eat rice instead of wheat or corn.

    And goodbye to Florida.

    Corn doesn’t have a problem with heat. It’s drought that’s ruining this year’s corn crop, not heat. If we had normal rainfall, you’d see a bumper crop of corn this year.

    I don’t care much for Florida, anyway.

  34. R Taylor says:
    July 24, 2012 at 4:54 am

    There are gains and losses with any gradual temperature change, but the fundamental fallacy here is to ignore the ice-core lesson that CO2 has no significant effect on temperature.
    _________________________
    You have that donkey backwards. The temperature has a great effect on the amount of CO2. CO2 is more soluble in COLD WATER, and that is why there is a time lag. The temperature drops and then the CO2 drops.

    See the most recent paper mentioned here at WUWT “New research in Antarctica shows CO2 follows temperature “by a few hundred years at most”

  35. LazyTeeager: Good bye to Florida. Yup, in a thousand years or so. Considering that the cities of today have mostly come about in the last 30 years (globally), we have a weekend or two to mitigate. I’ll take that trade for opening up all of the US to being lush and green. Equally, having all of Australia open to being lush and green would help food sourcing for the planet. Of course, if you fast forward by a 1000 years I think we run into a prediction made by Aurthor C. Clarke or Sagan. When the history of the human experience is finally written, most of it will have been in space.

  36. further LazyTeen: “So americans will have to grow and eat rice instead of wheat or corn.” ahem, we do that now. Interestingly enough, we grow a lot of canola. Of more interest we grow a lot of it in States like North Dakota and they grow a lot of it in Canada. Canola is a warm weather, longer growing season crop that we GM’d to grow in those latitudes over the past 20 years. Give us 100 years, 500 years, a thousand years, I’m pretty sure we will be able to grow nearly anything nearly anywhere (see Moore’s law).

  37. Here are ALL the actual CO2 estimates going back 40 million years.

    I think a link to a bare image isn’t really worth considering. What is being plotted? There isn’t even an axis for CO2 PPM. Who’s doing the estimating?

  38. From Kelvin:
    “Hansen didn’t mention that sea levels today are 120 metres—almost 400 feet—higher than they were a mere 15,000 years ago,”
    That’s 8mm per year. Looks like the rise in sea levels has slowed down!

    Yes, very fast sea level rise at the end of the glaciation until about 8,000 years ago, due to a torrent of melting ice. Much slower today (2-3 mm/year). Wikipedia has a couple of good graphs of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Current_sea_level_rise.

  39. LazyTeenager says:
    July 24, 2012 at 7:04 am

    So americans will have to grow and eat rice instead of wheat or corn.

    And goodbye to Florida.
    ____________________________
    Rice is much better for you, I NEVER eat corn or wheat. Florida is no loss, if we get a midwest and especially a south west with enough rain to actually feed a cow with two acres of land instead of two square miles.

    A warmer world is a darn sight more hospitable than a mile of ice sitting on NYC.

    As one of the commenters here are WUWT said

    “the precessional alignment would suggest that the Holocene is nearing its end, while the obliquity alignment would suggest it has another 12 000 years to run its course.”

    This is conclusion is historically incorrect as EVERY Ice begins when the obliquity declines below 23.5%. Get the obliquity time line out and compare to the ice age cycles. 3/4 of the 41kyr cycle is ice age dominated leaving only 10 to 12 kyr of warming. On the other hand 2 out of 3 obliquity cycles only yields one warming period. Those are the facts as we have them.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/16/the-end-holocene-or-how-to-make-out-like-a-madoff-climate-change-insurer/#comment-928923

    The whole post is worth reading. The earth seems to be bimodal one mode is warm and the other is ICE and the switch between the two is thought to be ‘abrupt’ as in a decade or two. I prefer to err on the side of warm.

    The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. ~ Marcus Aurelius

  40. LazyTeenager says:
    July 24, 2012 at 7:04 am
    So americans will have to grow and eat rice instead of wheat or corn.

    FYI, the wheat-and-corn belt in the US is in the middle of the country — you, know, that portion unaffected by rising sea levels?

    And rice doesn’t grow in sea water…

  41. fredb says:
    July 24, 2012 at 2:05 am

    For those enamored by the phrase “tropical paradise” … have you ever *lived* in the tropics. And I don’t mean visited a nice beach resort. And Hawaii is not typical of tropical climates. I know there are some nice tropical places, but it’s not all a bed of roses! Don’t forget to factor in tropical diseases, malaria, intense rain storms and landslides, erosion, etc., etc.
    ****************************************************************

    Yes. S.E. Asia, Phillipines, Guam, and others. Lots of very big bugs. I hate bugs. But you get used to it after a couple months.

  42. Gillian says:
    July 24, 2012 at 5:21 am
    Crazy Koreans! They voted unanimously to introduce a carbon price. Maybe they’re fools, or maybe they understand science and don’t like the sound of heatwaves, droughts, storms and flooding associated with climate change.

    The South Korean Parliament seems more interested in the revenue the Emission Trading Scheme will raise than in anything else.

    “The decision to launch an all-out trade war against EU airlines was taken at a meeting of the 26 countries in Moscow on Wednesday after the EU refused to withdraw the unilateral carbon tax on fliers from other nations. The measure would help EU pocket around $1.5 billion starting 2013 that will go up every year, thanks to the annual carbon tax at the cost of fliers from India and other countries ostensibly to combat climate change…”

    http://planet.infowars.com/worldnews/asia/the-2012-yeosu-expo-carbon-tax-conundrum

    At least they have the sense to join the dots and recognise the connection between rising greenhouse gases and extreme weather events.

    No, they joined the dots and saw how much the EU estimated it would take in from its carbon trading scheme. Extreme weather events have been occurring since before there was life on Earth.

    But we will never be able to convince this media of the need to understand the logic of science before taking the word of government scientists selling a fraud. Why? Because it is almost impossible to convince ignorant men that they are ignorant.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/10/extreme-weather-is-an-integral-part-of-the-earths-climate/

  43. Life can survive a variation of 10°C in one day between night and day.
    Life can survive a variation of 10°C in one year between winter and summer.
    Life can survive a variation of 10°C in 100 000 years between a glacial period and an interglacial.
    Life can survive a variation of 10°C in 10,000,000 years between an icehouse and greenhouse.
    But what about 2°C in 100 years? I would like to see a proof that life would not survive that.
    About the economy, A rise of 10 meters of sea levels would probably destroy the economy just as much as earthquakes have destroyed California’s economy in the last century.

  44. Pretty tough to go back to the Miocene with the current tectonic plate confit. Lo, we’re doomed to the ice.

  45. Steven Mosher says:
    July 24, 2012 at 11:26 am
    Greenland is not looking good

    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/24jul_greenland/

    “On July 8, 40% of the ice sheet’s surface had melted”.
    ——————————————-

    Modis Terra shows daytime highs of -8C to -25C on July 8 on the ice-sheet.

    http://neo.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/Search.html?group=19

    Weather Underground for the last month from the Summit Greenland weather stations. Some brief periods up to 0.0C.

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/histGraphAll?day=24&year=2012&month=7&ID=04416&type=1&width=614

  46. Two obvious points in response. First, the author seems to agree with the alarmists that a rise in CO2 levels of a few hundred parts per million (0.000003) could have a dramatic effect on climate … and we all know that can’t be true. Second, humans really weren’t thriving during the Miocene, and certainly not 7 billion of them who need land to grow food and live.

  47. “Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. [source]

    Followed by the obligatory scare quote:

    “But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.”

    Don’t you get tired of all the fake alarmism? It’s all bogus. The Null Hypothesis shows that there is nothing to be worried about. It’s all happened before, and to much greater extremes. Relax, runaway global warming’s not gonna getcha.

  48. Buzz B says: “the author seems to agree with the alarmists that a rise in CO2 levels of a few hundred parts per million (0.000003) could have a dramatic effect on climate”

    Such an inference may or may not be correct but it is not really possible to be certain of that from what has been written. The author merely notes that there were times in Earth’s history when there was a) more CO2 in the atmosphere and b) the climate was much warmer than the present. The author might personally believe this indicates that those periods were as warm as they were mostly due to that CO2, or possibly not. I certainly wouldn’t jump to that conclusion: certainly those climates would have been colder than they actually were if CO2 levels had been lower, but that doesn’t mean that the entire temperature difference between today and then was due to that CO2. The distribution of the continents was different, changing ocean circulation, and often there was a lack of landmass over the Southern Pole. There may have been different amounts of other greenhouse gases, the variations in cosmic rays due to passage of the spiral arms of the galaxy might be important as could variations in some of the Earth’s orbital parameters. It’s possible that the atmospheric aerosol or dust loading was very different from the present, from variations in volcanic activity, say. There are many, many possible factors which might be involved in paleoclimate variations. Without know what role those other factors played it is impossible to determine what quantitative effect from CO2 was present.

  49. @LazyTeenager says:
    “So americans will have to grow and eat rice instead of wheat or corn.
    “And goodbye to Florida.”

    Which will turn into a huge, productive fishing ground. Ditto the E Coast.

    Re Greenland surface melting:

    I looked in the report for a volume of water released by the melting but it was conspicuously absent. It would be very odd if, during midsummer’s constant sunshine, there was no melting of the top skin of the ice cap.

    Since 1889 you say? Wasn’t that the year the Arctic’s NW Passage was open and it was possible to sail up the west side of Greenland? Too bad it was followed by 30 years of cooling. Fortunately that was followed by 30 years of warming which was followed by 30 years of…

  50. Does anyone see the disconnect between the ideal of a lush tropical paradise and the western forest fires and drought-stricken midwest today? Or has it just not heated up enough to get wet?

  51. If only. Our modern climate regime alternating between glacial (90-100k years) and interglacial (10-20k years) will not be altered in any way by man. It’s a nice dream, though.

  52. Re: Buzz B and timetochoose again

    I emphatically don’t think these geological eras were warmer due to carbon dioxide, but due mainly to ocean and air circulation patterns that favored warmth. The closing of the Panama isthmus and mountain-building were the main causes of the current ice age, in my view.

    My post argues that if the CAGW/carbon dioxide theory was valid–I don’t think it is but if–would the result be catastrophic? Even in a worst case scenario, really high sea levels, the answer is no. To say otherwise is to ignore 50 million years of planetary history. :)

  53. It would be a shame to lose Florida, but looking at the Miocene map it looks like Scuba diving opportunities will be a lot better for those of us living in Atlanta. Pity I have to wait a thousand years for it — I suspect by then my Social Security benefits will have run out.

  54. I’m with Fredb, “tropical everywhere” sounds like a nightmare to me: Hot, humid, stuff growing everywhere, mold, nasty bugs, insects and reptiles. I’ve been to gulf coast of the US, in deep winter it’s so-so, the rest of the year it’s my idea of hell.

    I’ll live with 4-6months of deep freeze winter to avoid a summer that’s like a steam bath.

  55. This really is The Age of Stupid.

    Sceptics attack the science on the grounds that the link between CO2 and temperature is weaker than calculated – or does not exist at all.

    Then global warming is accepted but dismissed because its all OK as our descendants will live in a “tropical paradise” as it was tens of millions of years ago.

    Big problem with that theory. Tens of millions of years ago there were no humans, no cities, no farmland.

    If proponents of Paul MacRae’s complacency see it as a good thing, tell us how do we defend the major cities of the world from major sea level rise ? Its no good saying its centuries away – future generations will not thank us for flooding their cities and not caring.

    And what about the vast numbers of low lying smaller coastal settlements around the world and the productive farmland that supports them. Where do those millions of people go ?

    If you live in a densely populated low lying area like we do – areas which have struggled for centuries to hold back the sea, areas that have seen thousands die from coastal flooding in living memory, then major sea level rise is not talked of as an idle bit of speculation.

  56. Add me to the list of those living in the tropics who disagree with Fred, ISTM that the only people who think like him are those who have never tried it.

  57. James Abbott says:
    July 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    If you live in a densely populated low lying area like we do – areas which have struggled for centuries to hold back the sea, areas that have seen thousands die from coastal flooding in living memory, then major sea level rise is not talked of as an idle bit of speculation.

    That may be understandably true, but for those that live and build on flood plains… What exactly do you expect over future centuries?! GK

  58. RE: Bruce Cobb says:
    July 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    If only. Our modern climate regime alternating between glacial (90-100k years) and interglacial (10-20k years) will not be altered in any way by man. It’s a nice dream, though.

    ================================

    Indeed it is. And beyond that, it is the ultimate denialism. Denying the eventual end of the interglacial is the ultimate denial. I can sort of understand why, since the consequences of that looming event are so dire.

  59. LazyTeenager says: So americans will have to grow and eat rice instead of wheat or corn.

    Why? Wheat and corn are tropical plants, Einstein. Ever been to Iraq’s Fertile Crescent? I’m guessing not. Or the Yucatan? That’s where those plants were domesticated. It’s hotter there than here, and was even more so when those plants were first cultivated. Am I typing too fast for you? Do you really think that wheat and corn won’t grow in the Midwest if it were warmer? Why? You’re not a farmer, are you? Ever planted anything?

    Oh my, the sea level cities will flood in 250 years. What ever will we do?

    Answer: the really slow people will probably drown, the ones that can’t outrun a snail. Everybody else will move uphill. It’s happened before. Sea level ports of 2,500 years ago are underwater today, but guess what? The residents moved uphill rather than standing there immobile for 250 years while the water got deeper and deeper.

    The dire reports from warming (if it were to happen) are baseless drivel. As author MacRae points out, WARMER IS BETTER.

    If we have anything to fear climatically, it is the pending return of the next Pleistocene glaciation, with two mile thick continental ice sheets and all that entails. You can’t grow wheat, corn, or rice on an ice sheet.

  60. tty,

    Quoting an abstract Frakes et al:

    “Three zones can be identified for the Early Cretaceous climate of eastern Australia: (1) a very cold southern region, at latitudes above about 72 ° S, characterized by meteoric waters possibly originating as Antarctic glacial meltwaters; (2) a zone of strongly seasonal climates, with freezing winters and warm summers, between about 72° and 53° S. Lat.; and (3) a mid-latitude zone (below about 50° S. Lat.), where freezing temperatures were not common. However, owing to scant biostratigraphic control on the successions, the time span of specific climates in both the cold and the seasonal zones cannot be determined and probably existed only for short intervals.”

    A twenty degree latitude shift in climate zones seems pretty cozy to me. Some of the proposed “glaciations” are inferred from sea level drops and unsorted sediments off the continental shelves. I would argue for tectonic causes, elevated midocean ridges form rapid spreading, emplacement of large igneous provinces.

    I’ll give you the tillites, but above latitude 72 nothing would surprise me.

  61. 65 million years ago the Atlantic was just beginning to become an ocean. The Pacific was correspondingly much bigger. So, the whole energy balance of the planet was completely differnt from what it is today because of the different distribution of land masses. This alone can explain the temperature difference. For instance, there was no land mass at either pole, hence no place where land ice could accumulate. Therefore, if there was any ice at all, it was as sea ice. This means that the sea level observed then is the maximum that can be realised by the given quantity of water on the surface.

  62. Did you noticed the Autor of the 1994 “The Eocene-Oligocene Transition: Paradise Lost”, is the veteran paleo-climatologist Donald A. Prothero?
    He’s the autor of the recent anti-skeptiks Q&A in “The skeptik” magazine….
    IMHO, he’s got some trouble with his memory…. or maybe he did changed a LITTLE his opinions about climate, since 1994… or about what the term “paradise” means…

  63. Jim says (July 24, 2012 at 4:28 am): “Even the IPCC report says that the benefits of global warming outweigh the negatives at least up to +2C. We should be hoping for global warming!”

    Only 160 meters of sea level rise to go, and I’ll own beachfront property! I’ve already picked out a spot for the boathouse.

    Go, warming, go!

  64. Paul MacRae — I was being sarcastic. I was actually giving you credit for, unlike many posters on the board, acknowledging that rising CO2 can cause increased temps. I’m thus surprised that you denied holding that view.

    I thought the scientific understanding was that, although the closing of the Panama Isthmus did initially cause warming, its effect was actually to change ocean patterns in a way that allowed NH ice formation.

    Not sure I understand your reference to mountain-building as a driver of past warmth. Probably the greatest mountain-building event was when India crashed into Asia and pushed up the Himalayas. This reversed a major warming episode and started a major cooling one. I thought the scientific understanding was that the incredibly fast drift of India (compared to usual continental drift rates) was causing a massive release of CO2 and methane from the ocean floor (causing warming), and the Himalayan building created a huge new carbon sink (leading to cooling). In other words, mountain-building takes CO2 from the atmosphere and causes cooling.

  65. James Abbot wrote: “Big problem with that theory. Tens of millions of years ago there were no humans, no cities, no farmland. ”

    Agreed. And we must be punished for our folly and lack of morals. How dare we grow the land? How dare we clean the land of that dark liquid that kept stuff from growing while using said liquid to propel our cars? Infidels! We should all live in small huts made from grass and all grow our own vegetables (but oddly enough we should probably stay away from plants of the more ancient kind, as they seem to thrive when there is more CO2 in the air).

    “And what about the vast numbers of low lying smaller coastal settlements around the world and the productive farmland that supports them”

    Never mind that the last couple of generations have constructed buildings and even entire cities where our forefathers for some strange reason did not dare put up as much as a shack. And then we all act surprised when the 60-year floodings occur.

    No Sir. The idiots are those who cannot adapt to change, not the ones who fear it above all else. Granted, it does not mean we should not be careful while diverting rivers from their natural path, but we certainly need to think a little bit ahead if we are constructing buildings that we expect to remain standing several centuries (in reality — how many buildings actually stand for more than a century?).

  66. Buzz B: I belong to the group that thinks CO2 causes some warming, but not enough to be worried about. My reading of climate history is that it wasn’t the fall of CO2 over the past 55 million years that caused the planet to cool but mountain-building (as you say) in the Himalayas and Rockies, roughly 50 million years ago, which changed air circulation patterns, and the isolation of the Antarctic continent due to continental drift, which created the circumpolar current, which became colder and colder and eventually led to the glaciation of Antarctica. The closing of the Panama isthmus seems to have been the final piece of the ice-age puzzle in blocking circulation between the two oceans.
    I don’t subscribe to the view, held by James Hansen for example, that it was the fall of carbon dioxide levels that caused our current 55 million year slide into an ice age. For example, Hansen has written: “Changing carbon dioxide is the immediate cause of the large climate swings over the past 65 million years” (Storms of My Grandchildren, p. 157). The lack of warming over the past 12 or more years makes it pretty clear that carbon dioxide is not the major contributor to climate that the climate orthodoxy believes (there are many other reasons for believing this, but this is a comment, not a post). Also, most of the texts I’ve read on paleoclimate, including university texts, put this paleoclimatic cooling down mainly to mountain formation and continental drift, as noted above, with CO2 playing a small role.

  67. As a palaeontologist, I love the Greenhouse climates, because they produce some of the best marine fossils. The sluggish circulation, due to the low temperature gradients, produces huge sea floor anoxic zones that preserve animals and plant in exquisite detail, including soft tissue, because very little can live down there, and even bacterial decay is slowed.

  68. James Abbott says:
    July 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm
    Sceptics attack the science on the grounds that the link between CO2 and temperature is weaker than calculated – or does not exist at all.

    Skeptics attack the *agenda* (and those who are fostering it) on the grounds that what it claims to be science has been shown to be nothing but suppositions, exaggerations, and prevarications. Even the IPCC admits that all the fuss is not about heading off climate change, but about wealth redistribution.

    Then global warming is accepted but dismissed because its all OK as our descendants will live in a “tropical paradise” as it was tens of millions of years ago.

    We accept global warming (and global cooling) because 1) it’s the natural, cyclical progression on the planet and 2) there’s not a damned thing we can do to change it. .

    If proponents of Paul MacRae’s complacency see it as a good thing, tell us how do we defend the major cities of the world from major sea level rise ? Its no good saying its centuries away – future generations will not thank us for flooding their cities and not caring.

    Levees and dikes work well, when they’re properly designed and maintained. The sea level has never been static, geologically speaking. Cities built as ports during periods of high water are now miles from the nearest coastline and cities built during periods of low water are now inhabited only by marine life. Do we excoriate the people who built those now-submerged cities for depriving us of the opportunity to live in them? Nope — we built our own cities, just as future generations will build theirs.

  69. At the end of the Eocene, there existed one of my favourite of nature’s “mammal experiments”. It is a bizarre creature of gigantic proportion called the Balucitherium ( also known as Indricotherium). After letting my kids enjoy dinosaurs thoroughly, I introduced them to a much lesser studied age of the mammals after dinosaurs and before humans. They are surprised at how bizarre mammals and dinosaurs could become.

  70. David Ball says:
    July 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm
    They are surprised at how bizarre mammals and dinosaurs could become.

    Have they discovered the Australian megafauna yet?

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