Ancient "Hyperthermals" aka global warming, more frequent than previously thought

Ancient “Hyperthermals” a  Guide to Anticipated Climate Changes

Scripps researchers document the history of sudden global warming events, impacts on marine life

By Mario Aguilera, Scripps Institute News (h/t to Dr. Leif Svalgaard)

Sediment samples in the lab of Richard Norris obtained by the Ocean Drilling Program reveal the mark of “hyperthermals,” warming events lasting thousands of years that changed the composition of the sediment and its color. The packaged sediment sample on the left contains sediment formed in the wake of a 55-million-year-old warming event and the sample on the right is sediment from a later era after global temperatures stabilized.

Bursts of intense global warming that have lasted tens of thousands of years have taken place more frequently throughout history than previously believe, according to evidence gathered by a team led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego researchers.

Richard Norris, a professor of geology at Scripps who co-authored the report, said that releases of carbon dioxide sequestered in the deep oceans were the most likely trigger of these ancient “hyperthermal” events. Most of the events raised average global temperatures between 2° and 3° Celsius (3.6 and 5.4° F), an amount comparable to current conservative estimates of how much temperatures are expected to rise in coming decades as a consequence of anthropogenic global warming. Most hyperthermals lasted about 40,000 years before temperatures returned to normal.

The study appears in the March 17 issue of the journal Nature.

“These hyperthermals seem not to have been rare events,” Norris said, “hence there are lots of ancient examples of global warming on a scale broadly like the expected future warming.  We can use these events to examine the impact of global change on marine ecosystems, climate and ocean circulation.”

The hyperthermals took place roughly every 400,000 years during a warm period of Earth history that prevailed some 50 million years ago. The strongest of them coincided with an event known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, the transition between two geologic epochs in which global temperatures rose between 4° and 7° C (7.2° and 12.6° F) and needed 200,000 years to return to historical norms. The events stopped taking place around 40 million years ago, when the planet entered a cooling phase. No warming events of the magnitude of these hyperthermals have been detected in the geological record since then.

Photo of Hyperthermals
Richard Norris in his lab with ancient sediments obtained by the Ocean Drilling Program reveal the mark of “hyperthermals,” warming events lasting thousands of years that changed the composition of the sediment and its color. The dark color in the large sediment core sample at left depicts the onset and aftermath of a 55-million-year-old warming event when changes in ocean temperatures altered the composition of marine life.

Phil Sexton, a former student of Norris’ now at the Open University in the United Kingdom, led the analysis of sediment cores collected off the South American coast. In the cores, evidence of the warm periods presented itself in bands of gray sediment layered within otherwise pale greenish mud. The gray sediment contained increased amounts of clay left after the calcareous shells of microscopic organisms were dissolved on the sea floor. These clay-rich intervals are consistent with ocean acidification episodes that would have been triggered by large-scale releases of carbon dioxide. Large influxes of carbon dioxide change the chemistry of seawater by producing greater amounts of carbonic acid in the oceans.

The authors concluded that a release of carbon dioxide from the deep oceans was a more likely cause of the hyperthermals than other triggering events that have been hypothesized. The regularity of the hyperthermals and relatively warm ocean temperatures of the period makes them less likely to have been caused by events such as large melt-offs of methane hydrates, terrestrial burning of peat or even proposed cometary impacts. The hyperthermals could have been set in motion by a build-up of carbon dioxide in the deep oceans caused by slowing or stopping of circulation in ocean basins that prevented carbon dioxide release.

Norris noted that the hyperthermals provide historical perspective on what Earth will experience as it continues to warm from widespread use of fossil fuels, which has increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere nearly 50 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Hyperthermals can help scientists produce a range of estimates for how long it will take for temperatures to fully revert to historical norms depending on how much warming human activities cause.

“In 100 to 300 years, we could produce a signal on Earth that takes tens of thousands of years to equilibrate, judging from the geologic record,” he said.

The scientists hope to better understand how fast the conditions that set off hyperthermals developed. Norris said that 50 million year old sediments in the North Sea are finely layered enough for scientists to distinguish decade-to-decade or even year-to-year changes.

Co-authors of the paper include researchers from the National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton in England and the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Germany.

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Darren Parker

It’s a wonder the greens aren’t pushing for another Azolea event (i think I have that plant name right – the one that sucks C02 from the atmosphere)

etudiant

It would be helpful to have some more objective measure of temperature such as isotope ratios to draw these conclusions.
Mud color seems inadequate for more than a fairly weak and subjective inference.

Scott

“These clay-rich intervals are consistent with ocean acidification episodes that would have been triggered by large-scale releases of carbon dioxide. Large influxes of carbon dioxide change the chemistry of seawater by producing greater amounts of carbonic acid in the oceans.”
“The hyperthermals could have been set in motion by a build-up of carbon dioxide in the deep oceans caused by slowing or stopping of circulation in ocean basins that prevented carbon dioxide release.”
Always the conditional clauses. Do these scientists categorically exclude all other possible reasons?

“These clay-rich intervals are consistent with ocean acidification episodes that would have been triggered by large-scale releases of carbon dioxide. Large influxes of carbon dioxide change the chemistry of seawater by producing greater amounts of carbonic acid in the oceans.”
Logic fail.
When it warms the oceans release Co2 and get more alkaline. That raises airbourne Co2 which is then absorbed back into the ocean when it cools, making it less alkaline again.
These people are talking nonsense.

Ben

The research is interesting. Seems that they didn’t report any evidence of an impact from CO2. Yet they seemed obligated to throw in comments such as “likely” and “more likely” regarding CO2, without any evidence to back it up. Same agenda-driven drumbeat, when it appears they were just guessing.

rbateman

Still no proof of whether warming caused the release of the CO2 or vice versa.
At the end of the day, however, we do know that life on Earth existed both before and after such events.

As a former Geology major, I have always said there is nothing more normal than warming that’s global. And since I learned that tidbit in Geology 101, it is safe to say that I’m one of millions and millions of former college students who are not misled by the current climate fears…

Latitude

Well that’s a relief…
…climate change is normal
Now all they need is a workaround for this:
“releases of carbon dioxide sequestered in the deep oceans were the most likely trigger of these ancient “hyperthermal” events.”
“The hyperthermals could have been set in motion by a build-up of carbon dioxide in the deep oceans caused by slowing or stopping of circulation in ocean basins that prevented carbon dioxide release.”
and an explanation of how they read 5 million little lines……
“Norris said that 50 million year old sediments in the North Sea are finely layered enough for scientists to distinguish decade-to-decade or even year-to-year changes.”
Other than all that, it’s good to go…
…I’m sure their peers agree

Tallbloke has it right: CO2 rise is an effect of temperature, not a cause, as shown by high resolution ice-core data from the past several-hundred-thousand years. The intellectual dishonesty of Norris, Sexton, and all the other tax-funded shills for carbon taxation is shameful, but understandable.

Greg Cavanagh

Speaking of geologic scale. 55 million years?
I hope they have taken continental drift into account with their bore hole location.
I’m betting there are several meteor impacts within that time frame also, and lots of volcanoes/continental uplift ect. Heck even species would affect the chemical cocktails of mud (I’m thinking bacteria here).
Seems there would be a lot of outside influence to take into consideration. I’m sure the study would be a fascinating read.

Norris said that 50 million year old sediments in the North Sea are finely layered enough for scientists to distinguish decade-to-decade or even year-to-year changes.
Why do I suddenly have an image of a tree ring in my head? 50,000,000 and one can determine 1 from that? Do we have a 50,000,000:1 microscope? There’s much more to say about this bit of news, but I’m not buying it.

Jeremy

They state: “The hyperthermals took place roughly every 400,000 years during a warm period of Earth history that prevailed some 50 million years ago.”
This sounds very much like Milankovich cycles.
They state:”The events stopped taking place around 40 million years ago, when the planet entered a cooling phase. No warming events of the magnitude of these hyperthermals have been detected in the geological record since then.”
Ok. So why does ice core data show periodic fluctuations of 10 degrees over 100,000’s of years if no warming events are taking place?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/12/historical-video-perspective-our-current-unprecedented-global-warming-in-the-context-of-scale/
So basic statements would appear to be wrong.
Seems like a lot of conjecture trying to link things to CO2 when Milankovich cycles have long been accepted as a good explanation.

Richard S Courtney

So.
“The hyperthermals took place roughly every 400,000 years during a warm period of Earth history that prevailed some 50 million years ago.”
Nobody knows why.
“The events stopped taking place around 40 million years ago, when the planet entered a cooling phase. ”
Nobody knows why.
“No warming events of the magnitude of these hyperthermals have been detected in the geological record since then.”
Nobody knows why.
But there are people who claim to know how and why global changes such that they can say;
“In 100 to 300 years, we could produce a signal on Earth that takes tens of thousands of years to equilibrate, judging from the geologic record”.
Using the same reasoning one can confidently say that, in 100 to 300 years, we could produce flying pigs .
Richard
warming events

James Sexton

“the transition between two geologic epochs in which global temperatures rose between 4° and 7° C (7.2° and 12.6° F) and needed 200,000 years to return to historical norms.”
=======================================================
Yuh huh, so temps are usually in equilibrium?

HaroldW

@Tallbloke (March 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm)–
As I read it, it’s not self-contradictory. Large-scale releases of CO2 — posited from deep ocean, but I don’t think it matters — cause CO2 to enter the atmosphere, and equilibration causes the top layer of ocean (where the microorganisms lived) to become less alkaline. So the deep ocean, losing CO2, may become more alkaline, but the part which fostered the sediment-forming wee beasties becomes less alkaline. [I will not say more acidic.]
It’s still ridiculously speculative, but not self-contradictory.

1DandyTroll

So, essentially, Chuck Norris was born 40 million years ago.
That kind of explains everything. 0_O

H.R.

So… does anyone here recall what happened 50 million years ago that put a halt to hyperthermals?
I was on vacation then so someone will have to fill me in on the details.

Old Grump

Ok. Let me see if I have this right. Carbon dioxide is sequestered in the deep oceans. For some reason, this CO2 is then released into the atmosphere. This abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere causes a worldwide warming event. The warming THEN causes changes to ocean chemistry and sediment coloration. Hmmm….
Well, as a chemist, if you are RELEASING large quantities of CO2 FROM the oceans I can tell you that the chemistry of the ocean has just changed. You don’t have to have a “hyperthermal” episode to make that change. This is the kind of crap being passed off as science, and people actually are awarded degrees for this.
Even use of the term “hyperthermal” for only 2 or 3 degrees of heating is ridiculous. What would they use for the 10 to 14 degrees of heating coming out of a glacial? Super-dooper extreme hyperthermal?
Grandpa always used to say, “You can send a clunk to college, and he’ll come out of it a clunk with a degree.”

Gino

What caused this CO2 release? Inquiring minds want to know.

tallbloke says:
March 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm
Logic fail. When it warms the oceans release Co2 and get more alkaline.
Logic should be applied correctly. The release does not need to have anything to do with warming oceans. See e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos

fhsiv

Mr. Norris claims: “The gray sediment contained increased amounts of clay left after the calcareous shells of microscopic organisms were dissolved on the sea floor. These clay-rich intervals are consistent with ocean acidification episodes that would have been triggered by large-scale releases of carbon dioxide. Large influxes of carbon dioxide change the chemistry of seawater by producing greater amounts of carbonic acid in the oceans.”
Could not the hiatus in the accumulation of calcium carbonate (in the form of shells of micro-organisms on the sea floor) also be explained by a temporary rise in the calcium compensation depth (i.e. depth where the rate of carbonate dissolution equals accumulation) caused by a DECLINE in dissolved CO2? I thought that the solubility of calcium carbonate increases as the concentration of dissolved CO2 (bicarbonate) decreases?
The hiatus could even be more simply explained on the supply side by a decrease in biological activity in the waters above to the point of deposition to the point where the rate of carbonate accumulation is less than the rate of dissolution for some period of time? Or, even more simply by changes in the height of the water column (and thus pressure) caused by sea level changes or vertical tectonic movements of the depositionsal surface?

Carl Chapman

Sometimes it was warmer than at other times. Therefore CO2 must have done it. There seems to be a few steps missing from the logic.

jcrabb

So there it is historical precedence for the large scale release of CO2 into the atmosphere causing Global warming, only diference is this time around the mechanism of release is different.

bubbagyro

ITSS!

The authors concluded that a release of carbon dioxide from the deep oceans was a more likely cause of the hyperthermals than other triggering events that have been hypothesized. The regularity of the hyperthermals and relatively warm ocean temperatures of the period makes them less likely to have been caused by events such as large melt-offs of methane hydrates, terrestrial burning of peat or even proposed cometary impacts.
Dear Dr. Svalgaard,
Thank you for the news tip.
The article is behind one of those damnable paywalls, so I didn’t read it. Did you? If so, assuming the “episodes” are valid findings, were all the possible causes considered? For instance, what about solar variation? Can we be sure that the sun is (and has always been) unwavering in its output?
Also, should we be worried about something that apparently hasn’t happened for 40 million years? The researcher in the photograph (Dr. Norris) doesn’t look worried. What do you make of that?

Joanie

Do their results tie in with ice core data, or does CO2 in the ice cores lag behind the warm ocean sediment accumulation? They don’t really know that the CO2 came first, do they? (it must be CO2 because we can’t think of anything else…)

Paul Jackson

A Hyperthermal, without human intervention; did somebody bump their head?

a jones

Well whaddyknow?
I have seen too many sound pieces of field research subjected to twisted interpretations of the data produced to support some fashionable fancy based entirely on supposition.
These connections are usually tenuous to say the least or as here untenable. As are a couple of the other reports cited below.
It is the way of the world I suppose.
Kindest Regards

James Sexton

Leif Svalgaard says:
March 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm
tallbloke says:
March 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm
Logic fail. When it warms the oceans release Co2 and get more alkaline.
Logic should be applied correctly. The release does not need to have anything to do with warming oceans. See e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos
====================================================
Leif, I don’t mean to butt in, but the study tied itself to warming. And, states it is less likely, that their results were found because of external issues………….. such as a volcano.
“The authors concluded that a release of carbon dioxide from the deep oceans was a more likely cause of the hyperthermals than other triggering events that have been hypothesized.”
Nyos releases CO2 cause of a nearby volcano.

DCC

This “news release” is so far from being a scientific paper that it deserves being trashed on arrival. Frankly, there is no way to determine if public relations screwed it up or the original work was absurd. No references, no footnotes, no anything to validate their statements – which look a lot like hypotheses.
I never expected Scripps to sink this low.

Latitude

They just need one more workaround………
Why did temperatures and CO2 levels crash after one of their hyperthermals?
What they call “historical norms” are ice ages….
…why didn’t the magic elevated CO2 prevent the planet from going into another ice age
If CO2 is driving temperature like they claim it is. If CO2 raises temperatures to where the feedbacks tipping points cause run away global warming…
…why is it that every time CO2 and temperature levels have been high
….the planet goes right back into another ice age

apachewhoknows

Some one ask Harry Reid or some other person or group who fought Yucca Mountain Underground Nuke storage for years and years how they feel about being responsible for all that above ground spent nuke rod storage in the U.S. seeing how things go when things go wrong like in Japan just now.

Fesun

***The events stopped taking place around 40 million years ago, when the planet entered a cooling phase. No warming events of the magnitude of these hyperthermals have been detected in the geological record since then.***
Not interglacials?

Mike D. says:
March 16, 2011 at 6:27 pm
If so, assuming the “episodes” are valid findings, were all the possible causes considered? For instance, what about solar variation? Can we be sure that the sun is (and has always been) unwavering in its output?
The thermal episodes were real enough, one can debate their cause. Personally, I think the CO2 hypothesis is plausible, although a lot more CO2 than what we have now must be involved. I don’t think the Sun is the driver, because a main sequence star is very stable.

Bill Illis

The abstract says that the common rapid CO2 release events in this time period were then re-sequestered by the ocean just as rapidly (versus the CO2 carbon cycle models which assume that it must be sequestered geologically in sedimentary rock).
In this time period, the North Atlantic was just opening up and massive surface and shallow ocean volcanoes would have produced huge CO2 releases every few thousand years.
The PETM CO2 release event is assumed to take 200,000 years to be resequestered but this study says that the ocean reabsorbs it much faster (obvious to those who have reviewed the carbon-cycle models using the actual numbers).
It is probably just another climate science study that really is talking about one thing but gets spun and re-spun into a massive global warming storyline.
This is actually common in this field. A researcher spends a lot of time and money gathering data but to eventually get it published, a global warming spin has to put on it. The researcher still wants to get something out of all that effort and does want to get to published in Nature so he/she just goes along with the spin – knowing the data showing something else completely still gets published in the meantime.

eadler

#
#
tallbloke says:
March 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm
“These clay-rich intervals are consistent with ocean acidification episodes that would have been triggered by large-scale releases of carbon dioxide. Large influxes of carbon dioxide change the chemistry of seawater by producing greater amounts of carbonic acid in the oceans.”
Logic fail.
When it warms the oceans release Co2 and get more alkaline. That raises airbourne Co2 which is then absorbed back into the ocean when it cools, making it less alkaline again.
These people are talking nonsense.

You are missing the fact that the concentration of CO2, and the ocean temperatures are not uniform with depth. The source of the CO2 is the deep part of the oceans which are very cold and dissolve a lot of CO2. If there is periodic overturning of the oceans the CO2 rich cold water comes to the surface, gets warmer and loses CO2 to the atmosphere. This mechanism is apparently favored because such deep ocean water overturnings can be periodic, and a regular periodicity of the warmings has been observed.
This is not the only paper in which changes in ocean circulation are associated with Greenhouse warming events.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v439/n7072/abs/nature04386.html
Abrupt reversal in ocean overturning during the Palaeocene/Eocene warm period

The supplementary Information [not paywalled] has a lot of details about the data
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v471/n7338/extref/nature09826-s1.pdf

It is one thing to discover an interesting phenomenon in nature and another thing entirely to try explain it. Having noted the existence of hyperthermals which is interesting the authors immediately try to connect this with current global warming speculations. But to say that “In 100 to 300 years, we could produce a signal on Earth that takes tens of thousands of years to equilibrate, judging from the geologic record” explains nothing either about the cause of the hyperthermals or about any meaningful signal on earth.

James Sexton

Latitude says:
March 16, 2011 at 7:08 pm
If CO2 is driving temperature like they claim it is. If CO2 raises temperatures to where the feedbacks tipping points cause run away global warming…
…why is it that every time CO2 and temperature levels have been high
….the planet goes right back into another ice age
=================================================
Well, Lat, knowing you, I know this is only a rhetorical question coming from you. You already know the answer, but others may not be so enlightened. And there probably isn’t enough space here to properly give all of the information, so, I’ll try to be brief.
Others, recently, have attempted to explain this scarcely known phenomenon. But, they lacked complete understanding. Certain NOAA personnel have attempted to characterize this as Warm Arctic Cold Continents, we know this isn’t an accurate description of the dynamics occurring. Sadly, some have beat Dr. Syme to publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. (I understand its a grueling process for those that don’t conform to current thought, so its understandable how many wouldn’t know about the precise dynamic.) But, it is all fairly straightforward and more precisely worded, and more accurately worded as simply warmcold.
You see, it isn’t necessary for the poles to be warm, it is anywhere on the planet. If some parts of the planet is warm, specifically, (and thought to be exclusively) warmed by CO2, we know this generates cold. We know the poles don’t matter because of the spherical nature of the globe. Indeed, how else could we explain the very occurrences described in this paper? Or even the occurrences of this winter? It is, none other than the dreaded warmcold. I hope I’ve cleared some things up for some people. 🙂

martin brumby

More tendentious shroudwaving speculation masquerading as “science”.
The only useful thing I get from it is the new name for our anxious chums trousering tax funds for their “research”.
Hyperthermalists.
Hmmmmm.
I like that.

carbon-based life form

So Leif, if you did read it, what do you think of their hypotheses, methods and results? Let’s see some real discussion of the findings, not just a bunch of pooh-poohing, conjecture and jokes. The summary of the report at the link does not say why they think CO2 is the likely cause, rather than a result of the noted changes.

Pamela Gray

Hyperthermals. Intense, sudden warmth. Reminds me of…Yep! Sounds like hot flashes to me. Gaia, Geea, or whatever her name is, needs to sit down with a bottle of chocolate wine. It’s called ChocoVine, imported from Holland. Dutched chocolate and fine red wine. What’s not to like? Chocolate and red wine all together in a bottle. It will chase those hyperthermals right out of the atmosphere and cool the raging Gaia beast. Not that I have any experience with that sort of thing. I’m just fine. And don’t you be saying anything different.

I’ve stated several times on this site that I do not believe the mid-ocean ridge and undersea volcanoes are properly considered in climate models.
Those events certainly have a component that is more or less constant and therefore more or less predicable over geographic times. (able to be smoothed reasonably)
However, those events also would have periodic episodes of especially turbulent occurences.
I have no doubt that periodically the undersea super volcano eruption occurs (like Yellowstone), or that the mid-ocean ridge splits far more than usual (consider a continental plate more or less round that slips all the way around rather than laterally).
This would account for the additional CO2 as the limestone, plants and shells nearby are vaporized, and would also account for chemistry changes causing extinctions on land and in the sea. Depending on what exactly is released and in what quantity, it’s easy to conceive of toxic conditions being generated in the seas and out gassing to the atmosphere.
The belief that the Ring of Fire or the mid-ocean ridge is a constant makes as much sense to me as the belief that the sun’s output is constant in frequency, wavelength and amplitude. Meaning, “not”.
I do not accept that plate tectonics always occurs at a glacial pace, I believe sometimes there are huge slippages and sometimes there are huge tears, all dependent on the physics of the mantle, outer core, and inner core. Physics we obviously don’t well understand.
No surprise here to me. The Earth burps.

Er, substitute the obvious ‘geologic’ for the comical ‘geographic’ in my previous post.
Proof reading for the win.

Paul R

“Norris noted that the hyperthermals provide historical perspective on what Earth will experience as it continues to warm from widespread use of fossil fuels, which has increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere nearly 50 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”
There is that little scale issue again cropping up in Dick Norris’s mud study that must essentially turn mankind’s puny contribution into the Chuck Norris of molecules as usual.
Ka-ching $.

eadler

Latitude says:
March 16, 2011 at 7:08 pm
If CO2 is driving temperature like they claim it is. If CO2 raises temperatures to where the feedbacks tipping points cause run away global warming…
…why is it that every time CO2 and temperature levels have been high
….the planet goes right back into another ice age

Sexton’s explanation was gibberish.
The right explanation is that in the case of ice age cycles there seem to be three mechanisms involved. The primary driver is the earth’s orbital and axial precession, changing the distance between the earth and sun and the angle of the tilt axis. As the tilt angle increases, and the distance to the sun in the northern hemisphere summer increases, the earth’s reflectivity decreases, the oceans get warmer and emit CO2. Both of these phenomena make the earth even warmer. When the tilt angle decreases and the distance between earth and sun in the northern hemisphere decreases, the process reverses itself. The albedo and CO2 are not the driving force, in the case of the ice age cycles, but are feedback reactions to the cyclical earth’s orbital and axial changes, called the Milankovitch cycles.
The modern industrial emission of CO2 is a driving force, and over time the resulting global warming can result in the emission of additional CO2 from the oceans.

Steve Keohane

Others have put the temp PETM temperature spike at 2-3°C.
http://i54.tinypic.com/2yxm9o9.jpg

carbon-based life form says:
March 16, 2011 at 8:02 pm
what do you think of their hypotheses, methods and results?
I don’t have strong opinions on this. Their results are described in the supplementary information http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v471/n7338/extref/nature09826-s1.pdf and should give interested parties enough to go on. I do find it interesting that they use ‘astronomical tuning’ to fix the timing.

John F. Hultquist

Those darn continents keep sliding around, opening and closing pathways for currents, closing and opening oceans, pushing up mountains, altering freshwater rivers, and rifting apart land masses. The follow-on effects are oh so complicated.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
apachewhoknows says:
March 16, 2011 at 7:12 pm
Some one ask Harry Reid . . .

Harry is busy trying to shut down one of Nevada’s thriving attractions:
http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/feb/23/reids-call-brothel-ban-real-showstopper/
Reid seems interested in taking the nation’s mind in a direction other than housing, employment, spending, health care, and . . .

Phil's Dad

Hyper-thermals lasted from 40,000 to 200,000 years before temperatures returned to “normal”. Just how long has something got to last before it becomes the new “normal”? 2? 5? 10 times the entire history of civilization? As Latitude said, “normal” equals ice-age by that reckoning. Who needs it?