Claim: reconstructing climate from 300 million years ago from fossils says we’re in trouble now

From the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – DAVIS

What the ancient CO2 record may mean for future climate change

Deep-time reconstruction shows tropical forests can deeply impact climate change

Scientists used fossilized plants, like this seed fern, to reconstruct the ancient atmospheric CO2 record from more than 300 million years ago. CREDIT William DiMichele/Smithsonian Institution

Scientists used fossilized plants, like this seed fern, to reconstruct the ancient atmospheric CO2 record from more than 300 million years ago. CREDIT William DiMichele/Smithsonian Institution

The last time Earth experienced both ice sheets and carbon dioxide levels within the range predicted for this century was a period of major sea level rise, melting ice sheets and upheaval of tropical forests.

The repeated restructuring of tropical forests at the time played a major role in driving climate cycles between cooler and warmer periods, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis and published today in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Using fossilized leaves and soil-formed minerals, the international team of researchers reconstructed the ancient atmospheric carbon dioxide record from 330 to 260 million years ago, when ice last covered Earth’s polar regions and large rainforests expanded throughout the tropics, leaving as their signature the world’s coal resources.

The team’s deep-time reconstruction reveals previously unknown fluctuations of atmospheric carbon dioxide at levels projected for the 21st century and highlights the potential impact the loss of tropical forests can have on climate.

Climate Change Feeding Off Itself

“We show that climate change not only impacts plants but that plants’ responses to climate can in turn impact climate change itself, making for amplified and in many cases unpredictable outcomes,” said lead author Isabel Montañez, a Chancellor’s Leadership Professor with UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Science. “Most of our estimates for future carbon dioxide levels and climate do not fully take into consideration the various feedbacks involving forests, so current projections likely underestimate the magnitude of carbon dioxide flux to the atmosphere.”

Similarly to how oceans have served as the primary carbon sink in the recent past, tropical forests 300 million years ago stored massive amounts of carbon dioxide during these ancient glacial periods. The study indicates that repeated shifts in tropical forests in response to climate change were enough to account for the 100 to 300 parts per million changes in carbon dioxide estimated during the climate cycles of the period.

While plant biologists have been studying how different trees and crops respond to increasing carbon dioxide levels, this study is one of the first to show that when plants change the way they function as CO2 rises or falls, it can have major impact, even to the point of extinction.

“We see great resilience in vegetation to climatic changes, millions of years of stable composition and structure despite glacial-interglacial cycles,” said co-author William DiMichele, a paleobiologist with the Smithsonian Institution. “But we’ve come to understand that there are thresholds that, when crossed, can be accompanied by rapid and irreversible biological change.”

Co-leading author Jenny McElwain, professor of paleobiology at University College in Dublin, Ireland, said the study indicates that shifts in atmospheric carbon dioxide impacted plant groups differently.

“The forest giants of the period were hit particularly hard because they were the most inefficient of all the plants around at the time, likely losing water like open hose pipes” McElwain said. “Their forest competitors, like tree ferns, were able to outcompete them as the climate dried.”

Background: Unprecedented Rise of CO2

Over the past million years, atmospheric carbon dioxide has been generally low and fluctuated predictably within a window of 200 to 300 ppm. This, the researchers explain, has sustained the current icehouse – a time marked by continental ice at the polar regions – under which humans have evolved. This trend has been abruptly interrupted by the pronounced rise of carbon dioxide over the past 100 years to the current level of 401 ppm — one not seen on Earth for at least the past 3.5 million years.

The current unprecedented rate of rising atmospheric CO2 raises concerns about melting ice sheets, rising sea level, major climate change, and biodiversity loss – all of which were evident more than 300 million years, the only other time in Earth’s history when high CO2 accompanied ice at the polar regions.

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159 thoughts on “Claim: reconstructing climate from 300 million years ago from fossils says we’re in trouble now

  1. Oh sweet Jesus. Another solicited paper to explain away changes that the AGW hypothesis could not. Pseudo science. Forgive me for thinking we can’t reconstruct our environment of 350 million years ago, but I am convinced any such reconstruction is bollocks if offered with any real certainty

    • Yup. The continents and ocean currents, and many other factors, bore no resemblance to today’s world. And that is before invoking arguments about correlation not being causation, with the geological record not having sufficient kinetic discrimination.

      It is complete make-believe. Or twaddle. Take your pick.

    • Agreed!

      These fossil tea leaf fortune tellers not only can tell the state of a forest, based on a fossil, but they can also gauge the rest of the forest’s health…

      And they can predict that Earth has interrupted the ice age with the increase in CO2 and concurrent increases in temperature…

      Mass hypnosis or just regular hand waving alarmers unable to get real jobs?

  2. On the upside … it took 70,000,000 years of records that are ±5,000,000 age-identifiable to determine with a handful-of-percent resolution this thing. Were the forests responding to climate change, or the climate change was responding to rapid changes in forest-CO₂-efficiency uptake? Hmmm?

    Just saying
    GoatGuy

  3. …making for amplified and in many cases unpredictable outcomes…

    Ah…nothing like amplification and unpredictability if you are looking for the downside of everything. I’m thinking of starting a scientific journal called ‘Disasters!’, and teaching a course at my local college on ‘Disaster Prediction for Fun and Profit’…

    • you should be interviewed on the Disaster News Network- whether it’s hometown tragedy or global catastrophe- death and destruction with a human face, in the comfort of your living room.
      All the devastation, all the time. 24/7 on DNN.

    • @Dodgy “I’m thinking of starting a scientific journal called ‘Disasters!’, and teaching a course at my local college on ‘Disaster Prediction for Fun and Profit’…” Brilliant!

    • …making for amplified and in many cases unpredictable outcomes…

      These so called scientists want us to believe that there are tipping points in the climate from which recovery is improbable yet in a chaotic climate over the last 4.5 billion years this scenario has not happened once by chance with runaway greenhouse effect.

      These same people say that we do not believe in evolution where it takes trillions and trillions of positive mutations all converging to form higher order life forms by chance. They believe in trillions of positive mutations but don’t see the problem with not once has the climate shifted into runaway greenhouse effect.

      As the quote above indicates; If it was so unpredictable then and now how come runaway greenhouse effect has not occurred over billions of years?

      • “These so called scientists want us to believe that there are tipping points in the climate from which recovery is improbable yet in a chaotic climate over the last 4.5 billion years this scenario has not happened once by chance with runaway greenhouse effect.”

        “BUT,” they will tell you, “this time it’s different.”

        It’s clowns, clowns all the way down.

    • The term “disaster” comes from the Latin “evil star”, an obvious reference to Astrology, the core of “climate science”

    • Sorry Dodger, it has already been done… twice. They’re called “Nature” and “Science”.

  4. What I did not see was any mention of how they determined CO2 levels in a given time period. Considering just what problems there are with proxies that can be tested with other methods, I wonder just how much reliabilty there is to this set.

    • I with Tom on this one. Very dubious claim indeed to determine the mineral content of a fossil and then attempt to convince us that the minerals that replaced the original organic material of the leaf are the same.
      Proxy evidence is only useful if the correlation has been demonstrably proven.

      • Very good choice of phrase – “proxy evidence.” I like that. Too bad “proxy evidence” is treated as data, which is something one can confirm in some way. Evidence, after all, can be deceiving and depends on the eye of the viewer.

    • Majority of CO2 “modeling” for paleoclimate (geocarb III for instance) has a multi million year data input cycle. For instance, geocarb III has a data input of 10 my (yes, that’s 10 million years), with 30 my interval “time slices” (yes, that’s 30 million years) used for general analysis per geologic stratigraphic sections. LOL, and academic research uses these “modeling” results for papers such as this one, to make claims that are just not possible to verify or reproduce, and the general public are to be “amazed” at such intellect…smh…

  5. Didn’t see any mention of modelling in this one but I’ve always wondered if modelling is so accurate , why can’t they predict the winner of a horse race .
    Surely less data and less variables ?

    • Well generally the bookies in Australia do
      predict horse races reasonably well by the
      odds (prices) they quote with most races being won by the top three or four priced horses which is like saying there is a high probability the winner will come from these three or four horses.
      If they quote a horse at a very short price or rarely at odds on they are saying there is a very high probability it is going to win ie its a “certainty”
      If they get it wrong too many times they go out of business
      Every now and then they do get it wrong
      Eg when they offered 100/1 against the horse
      that won the 2015 Melbourne Cup
      But that sort of result happens very
      rarely
      The bookies are good at applied probability theory.
      But they dont use complex models to predict in setting the odds but rely on observed data of horse performance over the distance ,weight to be carried, track conditions , weather and jockey skill.( Although punters can buy computerised Programs which claim to take all those factors into account- I have never found them to be much use)
      The bookies even do well in predicting election
      results but they did get the Brexit vote wrong
      showing that uncertainty is always an unavoidable part of life
      Something which does not seem to feature
      maybe as highly as it should in many pronouncements about the climate in the msm

      • I thought the odds were determined by the amount bet on each horse, and can change from the time the betting starts to the time the betting windows close.

      • Guy October 25, 2016 at 4:15 am

        What you are referring to is called hedging the bets. After all the new betters may have more or better information.

  6. My understanding is that a fossil is a piece of stone where the original plant or animal material has been replaced over the eons by stone, thus preserving the structure of the plant or animal, but not the original carbohydrates or proteins. Thus it would appear, to me at least, that it is impossible from the fossil to determine the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere from any stone fossil.

    Likewise, it is impossible to determine the temperature of the locality in which the original plant or animal lived.

    Am I wrong?

    • Possibly. Looks like they are using measurements of carbon isotopes in the soil deposits, and measurements of stomata in fossilised leaves, which are relatively plentiful in the time period covered. Interpreting the numbers is another matter.

    • There’s no original material left. It’s generally replaced with
      Calcium Phosphate.

      I haven’t read the original paper but I would assume they are using
      analyses of the leaf structure (stomata counts etc.) to infer atmospheric
      CO2. Given their timescales, they must be amortising evolutionary
      changes in response to changing atmospheric conditions.

      • I haven’t studied fossils well enough to know, but are the stomata patterns conserved in the leaf fossil images? If so you could get a general view of increasing or decreasing CO2, but not absolute numbers since it would be impossible to calibrate the stomata density to a specific CO2 number or range, especially for extinct plant species. However the whole “its worse than we thought” theme is getting really old. I wonder what this paper would have looked like without the current liturgy of doom in science.

      • Owen in GA – October 25, 2016 at 5:45 am

        I haven’t studied fossils well enough to know, but are the stomata patterns conserved in the leaf fossil images?

        Here ya go, Owen in GA, …… “click n’ read” the following and it will enlighten you on the accuracy of “Stomata Proxies”, to wit:

        The CO2 Record in Plant Fossils (stomata)
        http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/stomata.html

        And it is MLO that Fossilized Plant Stomata “CO2” Proxies are 10 times more accurate than any Ice Core “CO2” Proxies could ever hope to be.

        The fossilized “stomata” count for determining atmospheric CO2 ppm is akin to one using a “recording thermometer” such as the NWS uses to measure and record current near-surface air temperatures. The “green growing” plants “recorded” the current atmospheric CO2 ppm via the number of stomata produced on the underside of the leaf foliage.

      • I’m waiting for the paper on past temperatures where they use tree rings from the petrified forest. It will be worse than they thought. Petrifying!

      • I am still a bit skeptical regarding counting plant stoma from fossils and then determining the change in stoma numbers from one fossil to the next to arrive at useful data. One would suppose that a set ratio of stomata/area of the parent plant needs to be known to determine any change. Knowing that the botanical record of living plant life from these periods is ZILCH how can it be determined that one fossil has an inordinately large number of stoma/area without any parent data to compare against. I suspect that one may use a living specimen of the fossil to compare, but as these are virtually non existent for most of the specimens, any conclusions are highly suspect.

      • Here’s the abstract, if it hasn’t been posted yet:

        http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2822.html

        Earth’s last icehouse, 300 million years ago, is considered the longest-lived and most acute of the past half-billion years, characterized by expansive continental ice sheets1, 2 and possibly tropical low-elevation glaciation3. This atypical climate has long been attributed to anomalous radiative forcing promoted by a 3% lower incident solar luminosity4 and sustained low atmospheric pCO2 (≤300 ppm)5. Climate models6, however, indicate a CO2 sensitivity of ice-sheet distribution and sea-level response that questions this long-standing climate paradigm by revealing major discrepancy between hypothesized ice distribution, pCO2, and geologic records of glacioeustasy2, 6. Here we present a high-resolution record of atmospheric pCO2 for 16 million years of the late Palaeozoic, developed using soil carbonate-based and fossil leaf-based proxies, that resolves the climate conundrum. Palaeo-fluctuations on the 105-yr scale occur within the CO2 range predicted for anthropogenic change and co-vary with substantial change in sea level and ice volume. We further document coincidence between pCO2 changes and repeated restructuring of Euramerican tropical forests that, in conjunction with modelled vegetation shifts, indicate a more dynamic carbon sequestration history than previously considered7, 8 and a major role for terrestrial vegetation–CO2 feedbacks in driving eccentricity-scale climate cycles of the late Palaeozoic icehouse.

      • rocketscientist – October 25, 2016 at 7:52 am

        Knowing that the botanical record of living plant life from these periods is ZILCH how can it be determined that one fossil has an inordinately large number of stoma/area without any parent data to compare against.

        HA, the above “parent data” thingy was utterly hilarious, Must be you are thinking that the number of freckles on a child’s face has to match the number of freckles on its mother’s face, …… right?

        It is obvious that you know NOTHING about the botanical record from any geologic period(s).

        “DUH”, the fossilized plant record is 10 times, if not 20 times, more extensive and complete than is the fossilized animal record, And that is because there has always been 10 times to 20 times, more plant species than animal species …… and ZILLIONS of more individual plants than individual animals.

        And secondly, the “lifetime” of all fossilized stomata bearing leaves of deciduous plants was less than ten (10) months, …… so fossilized leaves are in FACT a yearly “record” of climatic conditions during the ”growing” season.

    • Yes,
      Plant fossils in the form of leaves preserve stomata quite well. Plant breath through stomata. Much research has been done on stomata density, which decreases if CO2 rises and the reverse. Reconstructing the CO2 level by this proxy has shown, contrary what the article suggests, that during the Pleistocene, CO2 levels varied fast and within a wider range than 200 to 300, the so-called “pre-industrial stable (sic) climate”.

  7. Australian ABC radio had an article which I listened to on the way home. Apparently – and I quote – greenhouse gasses have passed 400ppm this year and this magic number caused the 2015 El Niño to be bigger. And no I haven’t mistyped, they interspersed the words greenhouse gasses and CO2 pretty liberally throughout the report. Apparently, 400ppm is a critical number. Is it?

    • Not particularly. It just sounds much worse than 398 or 399, and it’s easier to remember. Goes right along with the “tipping point” meme. Nice round numbers like that just seem “magical” to the average person.

    • Keep in mind that “400 ppm” is only 0.04% or 0.0004 (decimal). Four molecules in 10,000. Also that the first 20 or so ppm had the most warming effect.

      Ian M

    • The reports are wrong. Greenhouse gases have always averaged more than 20,000ppm for as long as they have been measuring them. They forgot to include the primary greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere, H2O. There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate.

  8. It is safe to assume any officially sanctioned diatribe on the subject of CO2 is pure, 1,000,000ppm fraud.
    So I won’t even bother to read this latest roll of activist toilet paper.

    Here is the atmospheric CO2 concentrations publicised by activist computer models:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37729033

    By contrast, this is what satellites actually measure CO2 atmospheric concentrations to be at this time of year:

    If this is not fraud, I don’t know what is.
    It is sad to be the citizen of a country, the UK, which once stood for freedom and integrity, and now dominated by a compulsive liar ruling class.

    • But, but, but, … the BBC article states “… the onset of a strong El Niño weather phenomenon caused a spike in levels of the gas in the atmosphere.” So, the El Nino caused CO2 to go up. How then, can they claim in the radio article that Chris in Oz heard (October 25, 2016 at 1:16 am) that the CO2 caused the 2015 El Nino to be bigger? That is some real positive feedback.

    • Your OCO-2 map is two years old. Why aren’t we seeing regularly updated maps or time-lapse movies?

  9. What happened to the forests? They answer this question simply: they left as their signature the world’s coal resources. So to get the trees back, the obvious thing to do is to dig up the coal and burn it in order to make it available to today’s trees for their growth. It is quite extraordinary that the authors dudn’t think of such an obvious and simple solution.

    • Yes but you see they keep cutting down all the trees to make way for biofuel plantations, wind turbines and solar panels….

      • Cutting down all the trees for wind farms and solar panels? No. For palm oil and cattle, yes, for not renewable energy.

      • My point being, Chris, that the alarmist way seems to be to Destroy that which helps us the most.

    • “Their forest competitors, like tree ferns, were able to outcompete them as the climate dried.”
      As the climate dried? I was under the impression tree ferns live in a wet environment, but hey what do I know ( just a retired farmer and gardener.)

      • Later in the period, tree ferns tended to replace lycopsid trees, which were even more reliant on abundant water.

        The cooling climate led to the collapse of the swampy coal forests in temperate mid-latitudes, as glaciers covered the high southern latitudes (circumpolar Gondwana).

  10. I see plants and trees all around reacting to climate change.
    Here It is called Autumn.
    If the Hundred of hectares of forest that are logged,
    are taken into account?
    Of course four fifths of the planet covered with water makes no difference.

    Sarc/off

  11. “upheaval of tropical forests” ,”large rainforests expanded throughout the tropics, leaving as their signature the world’s coal resources”, “tropical forests 300 million years ago stored massive amounts of carbon dioxide” .
    So if I understand this correctly, was it the rainforest’s massive consumption of CO2 depleting the atmosphere from this life giving gas causing it to disappear because of starvation starting a new cicle.

    Thank God humans are around this time !

  12. I’m new to posting here but did any of the anti-CO2 zealots realize why there was a mass extinction event between the Devonian and Carboniferous Periods?

    QUOTE
    Causes of the extinction are debated but may be related to cooling climate from CO2 depletion caused by the first forests.
    UNQUOTE

    http://www.livescience.com/43596-devonian-period.html

    Devonian Period: Climate, Animals & Plants
    The Devonian Period occurred from 416 million to 358 million years ago. It was the fourth period of the Paleozoic Era. It was preceded by the Silurian Period and …

    Mass Extinction Event
    The close of the Devonian Period is considered to be the second of the “big five” mass extinction events of Earth’s history. Rather than a single event, it is known to have had at least two prolonged episodes of species depletion and several shorter periods. The Kellwasser Event of the late middle Devonian was largely responsible for the demise of the great coral reefs, the jawless fishes and the trilobites. The Hangeberg Event at the Devonian/Carboniferous Boundary killed the Placoderms and most of the early ammonites. Causes of the extinction are debated but may be related to cooling climate from CO2 depletion caused by the first forests. Although up to 70 percent of invertebrate species died, terrestrial plants and animals were largely unaffected by these extinction events.

  13. All that time ago….wasn’t there something like continental shift going on around then? That would have caused a bit of a problem, climate-wise….?

    • At about that time, all of the continents were assembled in the supercontinent, Pangaea. Pangaea started breaking up in the Triassic (or somewhat later, depending on where and when), ultimately leading to the opening up and formation of the current Atlantic ocean.

      • Breakup started at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, with North America splitting off from North Africa, ie northern Gondwana, to open what would become the central Atlantic.

        Pangaea was still in the process of assembling in the Late Carboniferous, but the southern supercontinent Gondwana already existed and was attached to Euramerica.

        Siberia and part of Central Asia, North China and South China were still islands, but Siberia was colliding with Euramerica to build the Urals.

      • Funny about that. When I started grade school, scientific consensus was that the earth’s crust was solid and the continents were where they has always been. 97% consensus so it had to be true.

  14. I just realized, this is Josh material!

    The title could be : ‘Fossil forest spell climate doom for us.’

    And the image would be of the massive, LUSH forests of 300 million years ago…. ‘This is what’s in store for us!’

    • “And the image would be of the massive, LUSH forests of 300 million years ago…. ‘This is what’s in store for us!’”

      I like that visual!

      The Earth’s plants are loving 400ppm of CO2.

  15. Well, it’s gonna be a wetter, drier, hotter, colder, calmer, windier, greener, browner world now that a trace atmospheric gas has increased a hundred and thirty parts per million over a century…. The effects are so clearly definitely catastrophic, that they are not observable, detectable or apparent.

    It’s all over. We’re doomed.

    • The most fun I’ve ever had on a computer was playing the original Doom with a friend on a dial-up modem.
      If the computer programs say we’re “Doomed”, that might not be so bad.
      (But I’d guess there are more than a few siting issues with the temperature and CO2 monitors back then.
      The biggie being, “Who put them there?. Nobody?” If the answer to that is “Yes”, then this is all a guess.
      Theories supporting theories supporting theories……)

  16. Isn’t this another chicken and egg story? If it gets hotter, there would be more CO2 and more tropical forests, not the other way around. Or do more tropical forests cause heating and more CO2?

  17. This is so true- you know just the other day I found a rock (it was stuck in sole of me shoe) and you know what.
    Ah man. Well. Let me tell you. (You knew i was gonna didn’t you. Go on, fess up)
    Anyway.
    It had these shiny bits in it see. And that’s a sure sign that 325 million years ago, in modern-day Moglavia, on a Tuesday night, there was a full moon, yeah, and bits of moonlight got stuck in this rock. As it happens, this is just what my squigga gillion pettaflap pooperdooper supercomputer projected when it modelled this rock.
    But of course, most of this wee rock was black. This is 97% sure and unprecedented sign that a baby dragosaur passed by on the preceding Wednesday. Said hapless beast had an upset tummy because the plant it had recently eaten, an extremely rare and unexpected variant of the Lupidus Belly Acheyous had produced amplified levels of Dragosaur Tummy Toxin brought on by a CO2 concentration of 406.97979797 parts.
    We all know what happens when we have an upset tummy and that made the rock black. That’s the easy bit

    There were some Category 6 grey bits in my rock sample – further research is needed

  18. But we’ve come to understand that there are thresholds that, when crossed, can be accompanied by rapid and irreversible biological change

    And there it is – the tipping point! Alarmists have to come back to this to try and induce fear since the actual climate systems refuse to co-operate with their modelling

    • When did we come to “understand” this bit about thresholds? I’ve heard tons of speculation but never saw any sign of an understanding. Then again, I’m not a card carrying Climate Scientist, so perhaps it was too complex for me.

    • Planet Earth seems to have survived many ‘tipping-points’ — to the extent that the phrase is meaningless and promotional jargon spouted by the alarmist, scare-mongering, pseudo-scientists and snake-Oil Salesmen/women (together with their colluding political friends to collect he taxes to fund the cabal and perpetuate the scam).

    • This is pure, unadulterated scare-mongering and b-s!
      Where – in paleo-history — were these thresholds? When were they crossed? Why if “accompanied by rapid and irreversible biological change”, is Planet Earth still alive, and not burnt to a crisp thro’ accumulations of atmospheric CO2 (*far* higher in the past) as the Doomsayers claim we are on the brink of?

  19. The study indicates that repeated shifts in tropical forests in response to climate change were enough to account for the 100 to 300 parts per million changes in carbon dioxide estimated during the climate cycles of the period.

    Are these people not even dimly aware of the fact that plants become stressed below 200 ppm CO2 and at 100 ppm most plants would be dead?

    Are they even dimly aware of the phenomenon of CO2 starvation?

    It would not surprise me if they consider zero CO2 to be a desirable goal.

    How can you discuss CO2 levels of 100-300ppm with the context and paradigm being harmful effects of excess CO2, as opposed to CO2 starvation?

    To be a climate scientist obviously requires having an IQ similar to one’s shoe size.

    • this is UC Davis, eh?
      the town is like the Village in The Prisoner.
      the only thing not luvvie liberal is MurderBurgers.

    • “How can you discuss CO2 levels of 100-300ppm with the context and paradigm being harmful effects of excess CO2, as opposed to CO2 starvation?”

      Yeah, maybe that 100ppm level is the problem.

    • Here’s the image from the BBC article which also has the following caption from Phys.org:
      Carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere if half of global-warming emissions are not absorbed.

      A very nice comparison of what-if and reality…

    • The current ice age, with it many glacial and interglacial cycles has lasted close to 3 million years. Five such ice ages have been recognized over the past 2.5 billion years, three of them lasting considerably longer than this one has so far. A much larger percentage of the last 2.5 billion years has been too warm, or otherwise unsuitable, for ice sheets anywhere on the planet.

      I haven’t paid a great deal of attention in the last few years but I’ve seen a few recent articles suggesting that CO2 has played a major role in all past glacial/interglacial cycles.

      However, about three years ago I read several articles, and some web sites, one interesting site from a university in Virginia or West Virginia, that clearly stated that CO2 levels were much higher for two of the four previous ices, 4000 ppm for one and around 7000 ppm for the other.

      Is there decent, more recent, evidence that the earlier work finding these higher CO2 levels was wrong or is this just another example of modern ‘Climate Science’ ignoring all work that doesn’t agree with its models?

      • Attempts have been made to explain away the lack of correlation between CO2 levels and glacial episodes, but they fail miserably.

        True the sun loses one percent of its present strength for every 110 million years you go back in time, but being four percent weaker 440 Ma can’t account for an ice age under 4500 ppm during the Ordovician.

        Another excuse for the Ordovician glaciation is that maybe CO2 levels fell before it, but we don’t have concentration data for the glacial interval, only before and after it.

        When it gets colder, CO2 levels fall, but causation can’t be shown, or even very good correlation.

        https://debunkhouse.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/co2-ice-cores-vs-plant-stomata/

  20. Isn’t science AMAZING! They can take a few fossils and work out what was going on 300 million years ago. Whereas modern equipment can’t measure global temperature over the last 50 years and get a consistent answer. It’s time doctors stopped using those outdated thermometer thingies and used small trees to take people’s temperature. Brace yourself.

  21. “Most of our estimates for future carbon dioxide levels and climate do not fully take into consideration the various feedbacks involving forests, so current projections likely underestimate the magnitude of carbon dioxide flux to the atmosphere.”

    Or, on the other hand, overestimate.

    • Feedback involving forests…. As in, “the trees consume CO2 and we didn’t account for that in our models?” Wouldn’t that imply that their models are incorrect? Oh, wait…

    • There’s something that might get through to them.
      They say burning stuff is bad for Ma’Gaia so the best way for to help Ma’Gaia would be for them to become less stupid!

  22. The following summarizes levels of CO2 under various conditions:
    40,000 ppm: The exhaled breath of normal, healthy people.
    8,000 ppm: CO2 standard for submarines
    2,500 ppm: CO2 level in a small hot crowded bar in the city
    2,000 ppm: The point at which my CO2 meter squawks by playing Fur Elise
    1,000 to 2,000 ppm: Historical norms for the earth’s atmosphere over the past 550 million years
    1,000 to 2,000 ppm: The level of CO2 at which plant growers like to keep their greenhouses
    1,000 ppm: Average level in a lecture hall filled with students
    600 ppm: CO2 level in my office with me and my husband in it
    490 ppm: CO2 level in my office working alone
    390 ppm: Current average outdoor level of CO2 in the air
    280 ppm: Pre-industrial levels in the air, on the edge of “CO2 famine” for plants
    150 ppm: The point below which most plants die of CO2 starvation

    To prove that CO2 causes warming I had tested the city here of Pretoria in the winter months, for the past 43 years. In the winter months you get inversion, trapped layers on top of the air, leading to higher CO2 content due to people burning wood and coal. I was amazed to find that minimum temperatures here were dropping…
    Perhaps CO2 causes cooling and not warming?
    I subsequently checked 10 weather stations around me. Minimum temperatures in the whole of southern Africa have started dropping…

    ….we are doomed…..!!!

    • Henry
      600 ppm: CO2 level in my office with me and my husband in it
      “My husband”. Was this copied from Jo Nova – or is there something you have to tell us? (its all good, of course!)

      There is no doubt that the Antarctic and the seas around it are cooling. Thus your data are unsurprising. Its less clear if this is happening globally or is part of a reciprocal bipolar seesaw – SH cooling, NH warming.

      • true
        I copied that from somewhere because of the truth emanating from it:
        CO2 is accused of these horrible things and cannot defend itself
        so I do it for it: More carbon is ok.
        Min. and Max. T is just going down naturally.
        I did subsequently check the whole of earth with a sample of 54 stations
        taking care that
        1) the sample was random and equal number of stations NH and SH
        2) all weather stations together must be balanced to zero latitude.
        [longitude does not matter as long as we look at the change per annum]
        3] 70/30 @sea/inland

        It is not difficult for anyone to check my results/?

  23. Thinking back to the age of the dinosaurs… they needed lots of greenery and must have breathed out lots of CO2 but what happened to the methane?

    • They were polite dinosaurs, just like the bison are polite mammals, because they didn’t expel any methane. Only domestic cows and other animals do that.

    • Some alarmists actually posit that giant sauropods might have produced enough methane to contribute measurably to global warming during the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods of the Mesozoic Era.

      But what about the fire hazard that their emissions presented?

  24. And here we’ve been told that Pangea had all the continents together 250 million years ago and the polar regions were mostly ice free due to there only being one ocean. CO2 is a powerful gas it seems.

  25. The story says:

    Using fossilized leaves and soil-formed minerals, the international team of researchers reconstructed the ancient atmospheric carbon dioxide record from 330 to 260 million years ago, …

    One of the things that determine the climate is the configuration of the continents. These researchers are talking about the time of Pangaea the supercontinent.

    Pangaea or Pangea was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. It assembled from earlier continental units approximately 300 million years ago, and it began to break apart about 175 million years ago.

    After the breakup of Pangaea the climate completely changed. You really can’t say much about the modern climate based on what happened during the time of Pangaea.

      • You’re right that the configuration of the continents affected icecaps. There may have been no POLAR icecaps with high CO2 levels, but there were certainly mountain glaciers during the early, high level CO2 Jurassic..

        https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283449822_Did_glaciation_occur_during_the_Toarcian_Early_Jurassic_in_the_East_Stara_Planina_Mts_East_Bulgaria

        “The matrix supported conglomerates are non-sorted and are interpreted as connected with the activity of local glaciers, which probably occupied the summits of the relatively high uplifted Zlatarski Exotix Range, formed at 37� N { to cc. 200km to south from the present day exposures”

      • Alan McIntire October 25, 2016 at 8:02 am

        … “The matrix supported conglomerates are non-sorted and are interpreted as connected with the activity of local glaciers, which probably occupied the summits of the relatively high uplifted Zlatarski Exotix Range, formed at 37� N { to cc. 200km to south from the present day exposures

        Given that the Jurassic was when Pangaea was breaking up … I really think some scientists should have a broader education.

      • Alan,

        Yup. It was cold enough during intervals of the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous Periods for feathered dinosaurs to evolve insulation. The iciest episode occurred at the period boundary. Earth was in a Cold House then, but the arrangement of continents didn’t permit a full-blown ice age to happen, with vast continental ice sheets. There were montane glaciers, however, as you note.

  26. We really are doomed. Gavin Schmidt has just confirmed what Chicken Little has been telling us for years, The Sky Really Is Falling In:

    http://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/10/24/news/sky-literally-falling-because-climate-change-says-top-nasa-scientist

    As the world reaches a globally significant carbon emissions milestone, the sky is literally falling as as result of climate change, says a top scientist at NASA.

    This year was the hottest year on record according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and saw globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen in roughly three million years.

    “Carbon dioxide cools the stratosphere and when the stratosphere cools, it actually shrinks the size of the atmosphere,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told National Observer.

    “So if you’re about 80 kilometres up, you actually are seeing the sky falling. It’s going down by a number of kilometres.”

    • ‘Not seen in three million years’ – I guess they haven’t look up the numerous glaciation periods that took place several thousand years ago, with CO2 levels higher than present. Gavin’s a loon and always has been.

  27. First point about this study, they obtained their CO2 estimates from Pedogenic Carbonates (or old fossilized soils). This methodology has been shown to be completely inaccurate as the values depend greatly on just the time of year that they were laid down or the amount of rainfall that was occurring.

    In fact, this method has published estimates of ZERO ppm CO2 on four different timelines (including one at 294 Mya right in the middle of this study which was even used in IPCC TAR and AR4). Zero ppm would mean ALL the plants and animals died. But they obviously didn’t. The methodology, in fact, produces random results and this has been pointed out to the Paleo community before in published papers but they like to keep using it of course because one can blame all kinds of climate on CO2 when you are using random variables..

    Back to the Carboniferous Ice Ages from 350 Mya to 290 Mya, here is the reliable temperature and CO2 estimates over the period. CO2 was very low but vegetation was very prolific during this time.

    Why did this Ice Age occur? Because Gondwana (now attached to Pangea) was drifting across the South Pole. The first ice age from this issue started at 460 Mya – the Ordovician Ice Age and then it continued into the Carboniferous period. 3 km high glaciers, the same as today on Antarctica as the land slowly moved across the South Pole.

    But something happens when large glaciers stay on top of land for long periods of time. They sometimes depress the land so much, that it falls below sea level, the ocean floods in and the glaciers are gone. (Glaciers build up on land, not on ocean).

    We see this today in Hudson Bay, the Glacial flow channels in the Arctic Archipelago, the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea. Before the recent ice ages, these areas were all above sea level before successive glaciations long ago pushed them below sea level. It might take up to 100,000 years of non-glaciation before they rebound back above sea level.

    The same thing happened to Gondwana in the Ordovician Ice Age and the Carboniferous Ice ages. Sea Level rapidly rose and fell as the glaciers came and went. Although there was continental shelf land over the South Pole during much of this timeline, it was not always above sea level.

    In fact, this helped the Coal form from the Carboniferous as the swamp forests at the equator in North America and Europe were repeatedly buried under ocean sediments, then regrew and then were buried once again as the sea level changed rapidly as the glaciers came and went.

    • Pedogenic carbonate derived CO2 estimates (>2,000 ppmv) are the only basis for the “CO2 did it” theory for the PETM too. Fossil stomata indicate that CO2 levels were 300-450 ppmv,

    • Bill
      Thanks for your as always illuminating explanation from real geology.
      It’s really true – establishment alarmist scientists deliberately use flawed data if it is more suitable for being cooked into a CO2 alarmist message. Advancing knowledge comes a poor second to advancing the cause. It is this that is truly alarming and pitiful.
      But – it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
      Few are as good at doing this as you.

    • Bill, I suppose the Y axe in the Carboniferous Ice Age – Sea Level graph above should be meters +/- present sea level instead of Temp C Anomaly? I can not imagine minus 120 C.

  28. The last time Earth experienced both ice sheets and carbon dioxide levels within the range predicted for this century was a period of major sea level rise, melting ice sheets and upheaval of tropical forests.

    WTF???

    “The last time Earth experienced both ice sheets and carbon dioxide levels within the range predicted for this century was” during the Pennsylvanian Epoch (Upper Carboniferous Period, ~325-300 MYA)…

    Prior to the Oligocene Epoch, the Pennsylvanian Epoch was the coldest, most CO2 deprived period of the Phanerozoic Eon.

    Note that the rise in temperatures during the Permian Period (~270 MYA) preceded the rise in CO2 (~255 MYA).

    I haven’t read the paper yet… But the press release is fracking moronic.

    • Phanerozoic scale: no meaningful correlation between temperature and CO2

      Cenozoic scale: no meaningful correlation between temperature and CO2 (unless you care to explain a 5myr
      lag between PE maximum CO2 and temperature and several other unconformities)

      Neogene scale: CO2 follows temperature with lags similar to the ice cores during a long period of comparative stability

      Human scale: CO2 follows human production, but temperature still controls the variability around the trend.

      The inflection point between no correlation and temperature dependence appears to be in the Oligocene.

      • Thank you for pointing out my typo in the graphic. I can now point out that you are not immune either. I actually spelled Oligocene correctly. It is the period abbreviated “Olig.” in the first graphic.

  29. They looked for and “found” a causal relationship between CO2 and climate. To do so they needed to studiously ignore most of paleoclimatic history, and most especially the Modern climate involving the past 2 million years with alternating glacial periods of some 100k years and interglacials (which we are now in) of perhaps 10-20k years. These folks have the audacity to call what they produce “science” and who they are as “scientists”. They are nothing but charlatans and liars of the highest order.

    • At one time we had high CO2 without human intervention? Must be cyclical.

      One could almost say it was unprecedented.

  30. How shall we understand the last sentence in this article: “… the only other time in Earth’s history when high CO2 accompanied ice at the polar regions”?
    Does that mean that there has been a historic period before with high CO2 and lots of ice at the poles at the same time?!
    If so, what does that say about the AGW/CO2 hypothesis?

    • I thought CO2 levels were supposed to have been pretty high during the Mesozoic Era.

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012825299000483

      “The general clustering of evidence at high palaeolatitudes suggests that the extent of polar ice during the Mesozoic is likely to have been approximately one third the size of the present day. Based on such evidence a number of episodes of cold or sub-freezing polar climates during the Bajocian–Bathonian, Tithonian/Volgian, Valanginian and Aptian are recognised. Evidence exists possibly also for a cold episode during the early Jurassic”

      • Yup. But an even bigger problem for alarmists is the fact that CO2 was two or three times higher even than during the Mesozoic when the Ordovician glaciation occurred, and eleven times higher than now.

  31. Yesterday morning the BBC interviewed a climate scientist from the Free University. This person was ranting on about how we are rapidly approaching “dangerous” levels of CO2. She proposed a strategy whereby CO2 will be sucked out of the atmosphere…at which point I switched off the radio.

    Given their way these fruitcakes could actually destroy life on Earth, their goal appears to be concentrations of atmospheric CO2 well below 200ppm. It baffles me that they can be so ignorant of the many facets that create weather and climate yet still freely disseminate their bogus ideas as FACTS! It is obvious that none of them understand the role CO2 plays in maintaining life on Earth.

  32. Sorry but you’re going to have to get in line for your chance to play with the hands of the doomsday clock.

  33. The article is a frank admission that CO2 was higher in the past than now. What is the downside of that? Nothing. The past was fine, apparently.

    The general relationship between CO2 and temperature is so poor I view this paper to be drawing attention, unintentionally, to the fact that the concentration has been far higher for most of the planet’s history. The only thing unprecedented is the low level in the recent past. We will be in much better shape as a planet if the concentration can get up to 1000 ppm. I frankly think that is possible as the storage of CO2 in limestone and shells is removing it permanently.

    Oh well. Try to survive the next cold spell.

  34. Mass Extinction Event
    … may be related to cooling climate from CO2 depletion caused by the first forests.

    Pretty much describes the past 1 million years. CO2 depletion is driving the Ice Ages, and as species have gone extinct due to the cold, humans have expanded to take advantage of the newly available biological niches.

    Because we are able to use technology to take advantage of many different environments, extinction events may well be a bonus to human beings, by reducing competition from other species.

  35. We seem incapable of differentiating between geological and historical timescales.

    Climate change protagonists are worried about what happens in the next 20 – 200 years, but are incapable of persuasively collecting and modelling data for the last 2000 years.

    This analysis seeks to draw conclusions about what happened 260-330m years ago. Its obvious limitations in terms of precision and timing make it of almost no use whatsoever.

    It may or may not be good science, but of no use or relevance to the current debate!

    • Planet Earth is a robust system, has survived huge paleo-historic climatic changes, and is more-or-less unscatthed. To try to exclude the evidence of this robustness is, sir/madam, derisory. Your final assertion is absurd.

      I repeat my reply to analitik above….
      “This is pure, unadulterated scare-mongering and b-s!
      Where – in paleo-history — were these thresholds? When were they crossed? Why if “accompanied by rapid and irreversible biological change”, is Planet Earth still alive, and not burnt to a crisp thro’ accumulations of atmospheric CO2 (*far* higher in the past) as the Doomsayers claim we are on the brink of?

  36. Is addition to the Pangea issue, this study also fails to take into account the lack of bacteria/fungi capable of breaking down lignin. Any feedbacks in existence then would be completely different now because, the carbon in trees is no longer going to be locked up in lignin and buried.

  37. When I read my coffe grounds this morning I found irrefutable facts that this hypothesis is is right, wrong or nothing at all. I’ll see whether tea leaves give a clearer image.

  38. Similarly to how oceans have served as the primary carbon sink in the recent past, tropical forests 300 million years ago stored massive amounts of carbon dioxide during these ancient glacial periods

    Oceans didn’t act as a CO2 “sink” in the Carboniferous eh? Amazing.

    And then this:

    Most of our estimates for future carbon dioxide levels and climate do not fully take into consideration the various feedbacks involving forests, so current projections likely underestimate the magnitude of carbon dioxide flux to the atmosphere

    They must understand (if they learned any geology) that the Carboniferous forests were in coastal swamps, and were impacted by rising/falling land levels and/or sea levels. Present day forests OTOH are mostly on “dry” land. Drawing parallels between such disparate environments is risky, to say the least.

    And finally this:

    Over the past million years, atmospheric carbon dioxide has been generally low and fluctuated predictably within a window of 200 to 300 ppm. This, the researchers explain, has sustained the current icehouse – a time marked by continental ice at the polar regions – under which humans have evolved

    The message is, of course, ice ages are good. What they should have said is that interglacials are good. Glacial periods are really tough and when the next one comes, watch out (I’ll be long gone by then)

    It’s always the same with these warmists; there is no mention of the Sun, solar cycles, orbital cycles, ecliptics, ocean/continent configuration, ocean current patterns, etc. etc. ad nauseam. No: CO2 is the only thing that controls climate.

  39. Smart Rock:
    I appreciate yr response.
    As a generality, there alwasy exists in life a large, disparate pool of self-actualizing, pig-troughing, sinecure-seeking, un(der)employed researchers, entrepreneurs/opportunists, politicians & power-hungry, ever trying to ‘make’ themselves at the taxpayers’ expense. Any new fad is a prospect — how can we manoeuvre this to our own advantage? Lo! AGW!! The opportunity for troughing at the taxpayers’ expense is irresistible! Marry these people coherently with the World-control freaks, co-opt the media into sensationalizing it, and they have hi-jacked AGW as *the* issue for their monopolist-seeking ends — a Heaven-sent Opportunity for people of this ilk.

    In answer to yr last para. Smart Rock, we shd ask ourselves this Q.
    Out of the basket of variables you give, “They” reviewed the list (boggle-eyed for the whiff of personal profit):
    Sun? Buggah-all we can do with that!
    Solar cycles (ditto)
    Orbital cycles (ditto)
    Ecliptics (ditto)
    Continental drift (ditto)
    Ocean current patters (ditto)
    CO2 …. aaaaah! Fossil fuel-burning! Here we can get our toe in the door!

    And so the band-wagon started and morphed quickly into a profitable-looking gravy-train for those on-the-make and those on-the take, and those at-the-trough of public funding. Complicit are the politicians, ever with an eye to an advantageous wind, and the myriad opportunities for self-advancement by colluding with lobbyists, and facilitating government largesse.

    And very well have they colluded! There now exists an un-holy monopoly structure interwoven between U.N. power-brokers & bureaucrats, heads of state, their sycophantic minions, entrepreneur-promoters/lobbyists of relevant product (wind-turbines, solar-panels, etc.), diplomatic-circuit courtesans, conference junketeers, and — ah yes! — the backroom boys & girls who keep churning-out reports that their masters want to see. (In such an incestuous group, funding requests will be prefaced in terms of ‘proving’ what the Pay-Master(s) want to see/hear.)

    All this monopolist group lacks is a name … I propose Global Warming Junket … but it is a pervasive, insidious & pernicious organism that has taken unto itself a life of its own . It will only destruct from within or from irrelevance, and it behoves us Skeptics & Deniers to hasten one such outcome.

    Global Warming Junket is just that: designed for the Club-Members (monopolists all) at the Taxpayers’ expense.
    Anything dispensed to us taxpaying proles is pure propaganda, designed to keep us brainwashed continuously and ‘true to The Cause’ and coughing-up the $ to fund The Big Scam.

  40. They forgot to consider the primary greenhouse gas, H2O. Compared to H2O, LWIR absorption band absorption and radiation by CO2 is trivial. There is also no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate. There is no such evidence in the paleoclimate record and they have not presented any. There is plenty of scientific reasoning to support the idea that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is really 0.0. If CO2 really effected climate then the increase in CO2 over the past 30 years should have caused at least a detectable increase in the dry lapse rate in the troposphere but that has not happened.

    • Since a cold climate is drier than a warm one, H2O fell during the onset of the Carboniferous glaciation. This had a profound effect on land vertebrate evolution, ie the rise of amniotes, shelled-egg-laying ancestors of today’s reptiles (including birds) and mammals.

      The evolution of amniotes was spurred by the increasingly cold, dry climate of the Late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian in the US). One of the earliest reptiles yet identified, Hylonomus, appeared in Nova Scotia about 315 million years ago, and the giant (almost ten foot-long) Ophiacodon in North America and Europe only a few million years later.

  41. Present CO2 of ~400 ppm is not “high”. In the Early Carboniferous Period, before the onset of glaciation, CO2 concentration was around 1500 ppm. As global climate cooled, this fell to perhaps 350 ppm by the Middle Carboniferous.

    Average global temperature fell from about 20° C in the hot Early Carboniferous to some 12° C during the Middle Carboniferous, ie a little cooler than today’s interglacial climate.

    Colder climate lowers CO2 levels. As so often, the authors have confused cause and effect.

    • Oxygen levels were extremely high during the Carboniferous.

      As much as 35% compared to today’s 20%. The air was also heavier or thicker and flying insects could have four foot wing-spans.

      But with the extremely high Oxygen content, if a lightning strike started a forest fire, it would not stop.

      Forest fires could literally burn right across a whole continent. Days and days of rain might have been able to stop them, but for the most part, they only stopped when they ran out of fuel.

      Most of the coal is, in fact, the remains of these burned down forests. Yes, they are lots of fossils of tree stands, fronds etc in some of the coal deposits but they are mostly the burned out remnants of the incredibly prolific forests of the time.

  42. “We show that climate change not only impacts plants but that plants’ responses to climate can in turn impact climate change itself, making for amplified and in many cases unpredictable outcomes,” said lead author Isabel Montañez

    *

    Gosh, not another feedback loop out of control.

    Does this mean somebody needs more funding? Again?!

  43. Last I heard, Antarctica is gaining ice massively. Then today on NoTricksZone, I read that Greenland has also gained ice massively since the 1940’s as CO2 has rocketed upwards.

    Our Ice Age continues unabated. Model that, UC Davis.

  44. Be afraid; be very (ho, hum) afraid…

    BTW, exactly where is that very important study that shows unequivocally on the basis of hard data that carbon dioxide actually causes global warming…? What? You need more time…? No, no, heavens no! I’m NOT calling it an “assumption…,” but exactly where is that very important study…, What? Why would you call me that, of all things? Oh, dear…

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