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Early Plants May Have Caused Massive Glaciation

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the plot-to-destroy-animals-failed dept.

Earth 174

sciencehabit writes with this excerpt from Science: "The first plants to colonize land didn't merely supply a dash of green to a drab landscape. They dramatically accelerated the natural breakdown of exposed rocks, according to a new study, drawing so much planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere that they sent Earth's climate spiraling into a major ice age."

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Easy solution (3, Insightful)

no-body (127863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38893871)

Everyone put a new flowerpot up and water regularly to fight global warming

Re:Easy solution (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38893965)

1) We must conserve water
2) Global warming is simply a return to the previous state
3) If you're growing ganja, OK then.

Re:Easy solution (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894001)

A large-scale version of that is sometimes proposed [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Easy solution (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894521)

www.arborday.org

Trees. Who doesn't love them? I refuse to live in domicile without at least a few trees nearby.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894681)

I refuse to live in domicile without at least a few trees nearby.

I would expect nothing less from a Shaman.

Re:Easy solution (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895719)

Oh c'mon, I'm a die-hard industrialist, own a "visualize armed insurrection" t-shirt and a "pave the planet" hat, [1] and even I wouldn't live in a domicile without a few trees nearby. There were none on my property when I bought it a couple decades ago, and I now have 15 full grown trees of various kinds. Trees are nice.

[1] Mostly to piss off certain people.

not to mention... (5, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38893879)

flooding the atmosphere with a caustic, corrosive gas that could, in high enough concentrations, make just about anything burst into flame.

Re:not to mention... (0)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894089)

I see what you did there...

Re:not to mention... (1)

msheekhah (903443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894235)

I like my O2, thank you

Re:not to mention... (5, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894517)

Well, at the time there was a major debate about whether or not that would happen. A lot of proto-Earth's top scientist algae were certain that releasing so much oxygen would irreversibly alter the environment and seriously affect non-oxygen-respiring organisms, but there were many plants who maintained that the young planet had already seen worse [wikipedia.org] , and yet life existed in the current day despite that. What the poor, innocent archaeans who bought into all of this didn't realise was that the smooth-talking photosynthesisers were more interested in the production and stockpile of carbohydrates than the well-being of the other clades, and had already convinced themselves that whether or not the planet could support infinite population and ecological growth was not their concern.

Conflict of interest: The author declares that she has no conflicts of interest and is clearly not trolling, nor taking a joke too far to farm karma.

Re:not to mention... (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894723)

Nothing but undeveloped, unevolved, barely conscious pond scum, totally convinced of their own superiority as they scurry about their short, pointless lives.

Re:not to mention... (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894945)

I elongate and sharpen MY lives you insensitive clod.

Re:not to mention... (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895125)

Marvin, is that you? Got caught up in another time loop, I guess. Did you ever get that diode fixed?

Re:not to mention... (0)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895815)

Nothing but undeveloped, unevolved, barely conscious pond scum, totally convinced of their own superiority as they scurry about their short, pointless lives.

Are we still talking about algae? Or politicians?

Re:not to mention... (3, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895039)

I know you are being facetious, but the funny thing here is that if those events had not occurred, there would (very likely) be no large animal or plant life on earth. Radical change of the environment, atmospheric composition, and even the mass extinction of the majority of a whole taxonomic domain were necessary so that all the life we worry so much about today could exist at all. The problem with people today is that they are taught that we are living in The One True Sacred and Immutable Biosphere, and that if that biosphere changes, well, that's just the end of everything. The fossil record shows that time and time again biosphere changes are not only recovered from, but that the net effect is dramatically positive in terms of long term diversity.

Re:not to mention... (4, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895935)

The fossil record shows that time and time again biosphere changes are not only recovered from, but that the net effect is dramatically positive in terms of long term diversity.

That is cute, but I cared about long term diversity of Earth's biosphere up until my kids were born. Now, I am interested in preserving the current state of biology, diverse or not.

Re:not to mention... (2)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896181)

Unless your kids are planning on living in a 3rd world hell hole, I'd rate their chance of survival as 'extremely high'. Even if environmental changes have a short term negative impact on resources that are important to people, we're the most adaptable things on earth. We can live anywhere and eat almost anything. Moreover, through technology we can adapt virtually any other lifeform to do the same (with enough effort), which is why people are able to farm deserts and drink seawater. Really the only reason we're not deploying hydroponics on a large scale is that there is no need, no cost benefit to doing so. We already have all the food we need from existing infrastructure, even if corruption and logistical challenges prevent humanity from completely feeding itself.

We can create closed systems that give us everything we need, we just don't need to adapt in that way, yet, if ever.

Re:not to mention... (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896045)

The problem with people today is that they are taught that we are living in The One True Sacred and Immutable Biosphere, and that if that biosphere changes, well, that's just the end of everything.

You think the problem is that people believe climate change will result in the end of all life on earth, when in reality is that the biosphere will just keep on chugging. So if we solved this "problem", there'd be no reason to worry about climate change. That's what you're saying?

You don't think the problem is, maybe, what might happen to us? That the one thing that is sacred about our current biosphere is that it's amenable to human habitation and survival?

What I think is funny is that you missed the whole point of that story-- we are the anaerobic organisms. Go ahead and tell them that in the long term the biosphere will recover, and even thrive. You think they will feel better? Why does this make you feel better? Are you one of those hippies who thinks Gaia would be better off if humanity was extinct? Or do you just think our civilizations are so robust that they can weather any storm, even widespread ecosystem collapse, and you'll be fine?

The fossil record shows that time and time again biosphere changes are not only recovered from, but that the net effect is dramatically positive in terms of long term diversity.

Interesting assertion. I think the fossil record simply shows increasing diversity over time, with each mass extinction representing a huge backward slide in those terms, from which the biosphere eventually recovers. I'd like to see some evidence that, say, there was less diversity in the late Cretaceous, and more importantly that there'd be less diversity today if the KT event had not occurred.

More to the point, though, why would this matter either way from the perspective of Tyrannosaurus Rex?

Re:not to mention... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896201)

The problem with people today is that they are taught that we are living in The One True Sacred and Immutable Biosphere, and that if that biosphere changes, well, that's just the end of everything.

No, you're way off base. The Problem is that if this current biosphere changes radically, Homo Sapiens are gone.

Re:not to mention... (1)

Feyshtey (1523799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896109)

The EPA would have put a stop to this nonsense.

Re:not to mention... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894541)

i know, what a crummy planet, right? and 80% of it is even covered in the universal solvent, dissolves most anything from gold to rock.

Re:not to mention... (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895579)

It appears that you actually did mention it.

And this is how bad memes get started (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38893985)

The headline says "plants MAY have started glaciation". The summary says "plants created a major ice age". The actual article says that some scientists did some experiments that could potentially indicate that the earliest plants may have been at the root of a positive feedback loop that ended in a major glaciation period. The amount of hedging in the actual article goes so far beyond the statement in the summary that I have to think the summary was deliberately written to mislead.

I look forward to reading years from now how in the teens, scientists were all worried that more plants would turn the earth into an ice ball, and that everyone was told to cut down any green things they find.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894007)

yea, not sure how the summary went from planet warming gas to ice age.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894053)

reading the article cleared it up.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894281)

Reading the summary and knowing the meaning of the word "drawing" should have cleared it up.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895161)

"from" is the word you need to know the meaning of.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895411)

Well, that one helps too.

I thought everyone learned in basic science classes that trees absorb CO2 and pump out O2 anyway, so it all should have been obvious.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (1)

alienzed (732782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894161)

seems someone told the McDonalds corporation about this a long time ago... they are way ahead of us.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894247)

Hmmm, so what caused all the other ice ages then?

Why do the ice cores reveal co2 concentrations at the height of the last ice age at 20 times todays readings?

Al Gore wants to know - so he can getyou to send him more money.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894555)

The phrase "at the height of" means "the beginning of the end."

I'd be more interested in knowing what the deepest cores show, from the beginning of the last ice age. If they were similarly high, then your question is insightful.

If however the co2 peeked sometime within the ice age, and that was followed by the decline of the ice age we have an interesting coincidence, but still no causation.

The question then becomes where did this co2 come from. Did it come from the much reduced plant intake of co2 due to having significant areas of the planet in a deep freeze? Were the oceans chilled enough such that marine organisms ceased sequestering co2 into reefs?

Or was there some as yet undocumented sources of co2 that were ramping up production?

Or was the output of the sun reduced during this period and any suggestion about co2 merely mistaking the effect for the cause?

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895927)

"peaked"

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896309)

"peaked"

Yup. Guilty. I save my best spelling for people who pay me. ;-)

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (4, Insightful)

next_ghost (1868792) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894277)

Typical science news cycle [phdcomics.com] in progress...

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (1)

instagib (879544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894593)

This is a good one. The main culprit of this cycle seems to be the Uni PR office - if they wouldn't start to simplify the research results, they would only be picked up by those who understand it, and no dumbing-down-let's-all-panic-and-draw-wrong-conclusions cycle would start.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895307)

It's the Internet version of "Telephone." Except with the Internet you can actually follow the links back and see how the message changed with each hop. Fascinating, isn't it?

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895761)

> I look forward to reading years from now how in the teens, scientists were all worried that more plants would turn the earth into an ice ball, and that everyone was told to cut down any green things they find.

Man, I never thought of that. PANIC! Cut down your trees! I'm buying stock in STIHL.

Re:And this is how bad memes get started (1)

Feyshtey (1523799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896147)

Weird. You mean that some random person would actually purposefully change verbage about a news item in an attempt manipulate public perception? Really? Damn good thing real journalists never do that.

Damn! (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38893989)

I don't know whether I should go out in the backyard and plant kudzu or burn tires!

Re:Damn! (1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894417)

Why not do both?

Re:Damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894467)

I can't, I'm too busy buying carbon credits and paying for taxpayer funded grants to inviable green energy companies

Re:Damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895275)

I deny all of this

More results (4, Funny)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894017)

Scientists have classified these plants as Republicans in order to keep the blame for climate change consistent throughout history.

Re:More results (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894339)

Yeah, no. Grow up. Scientists don't go around blaming republicans for doing much of anything other than lying about science, and that's just the politically active scientists.

Re:More results (2, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894595)

Do people like Al Gore count too? Or does he get a pass because he's not a Republican? Just asking.

Re:More results (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894789)

Do people like Al Gore count too? Or does he get a pass because he's not a Republican? Just asking.

Manbearpig isn't a plant. Get your biology straight, man.

Re:More results (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895779)

He has been described as "wooden"...

Re:More results (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895143)

Al Gore wasn't lying .. he was ... just ... wrong .. yeah, that's the ticket!!

Re:More results (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895171)

Do people like Al Gore count too? Or does he get a pass because he's not a Republican? Just asking.

Or maybe because he's not a scientist.

Re:More results (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895287)

I can't even comprehend what this has to do with my post. Seriously. I can't seem to make a mental bridge here. The word "Republican" appears in both our posts, I guess?

Please to be statement having more cogent.

Re:More results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895647)

Then you fail at reading comprehension. He was responding to your previous comment. You doofus. But I guess that's par for the course for someone whom... kan't read. Hardy har har!

Re:More results (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896373)

Since this was posted as AC, I'm wagering I won't get a response, but... what earlier comment? In some other thread? Is there some other conversation happening in some other dimension? That last one seems like it would work. If all conservatives had discussions partially existing on some higher plane us liberals are incapable of perceiving through some profound failure on our part, it would explain how they can simultaneously hold the air of being certain in their correctness, and simultaneously speaking what appears to be complete nonsense.

More seriously, what are you talking about? I really did reread the entire thread of discussion a couple of times to try and glean some sort of understanding as to how his comment might relate. Whatever point that post seems to be opposing is one I have never made in my life.

Re:More results (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895689)

"Do people like Al Gore count too? Or does he get a pass because he's not a Republican? Just asking."

Only according to the GW denial camp did Al Gores lie about science.
So, i which camp are you? Just asking.

Oddly reminds me of a SimEarth scenario... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894039)

Daisyworld [wikipedia.org] , anyone?

Re:Oddly reminds me of a SimEarth scenario... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895325)

Years ago, a friend playing SimLife set up a rich multi-species planet, and let it run overnight. In the morning, after thousands of generations, the entire planet was covered by an oak forest, inhabited by.. squirrels. Nothing else. Oaks and squirrels.

Jurassic Garden (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894051)

We need to get the DNA of these plants and reanimate them ASAP!

Re:Jurassic Garden (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896021)

We need to get the DNA of these plants and reanimate them ASAP!

We would also have to make the sun 6% cooler and remove all oxygen-breathing organisms.

Confusion (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894083)

Considering that marine plants produce the most of the world's O2 (and subsequently consuming the most CO2) and the Earth is 3/4 covered in water... it seems like another possible contradiction.

Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (5, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894127)

The Medea hypothesis is the mirror of the Gaia hypotheis. Gaia says life is in ecological balance and self-balancing.

Part 1 of the Medea hypothesis says that life isnt necessarily in ecological balance and sometimes overruns resources nearly killing itself off. Several past mass extinctions, particularly the Permian may have been caused by this.

Part 2 says the ultimate end of life on Earth may be running out of CO2. CO2 has been falling from tens of percent on the early Earth to about one percent in the Phanerozoic to .025% now. (Human activity has temporarily raised it to .04%.) When CO2 falls below .01% then plants cannot survive and neither animals. Just bacteria. This is predicted in few hundred million years. Life consumes CO2 and buries in hydrocarbons and limestone. Unless some imbalance like humans come along, the trend is to pretty much lock up carbon for good.

Geo-engineering CO2 increase is straight forward. Burn limestone to release CO2. There is 100x more carbon in limestone than hydrocarbons.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (2)

UziBeatle (695886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894229)

Sounds good to me.

  I'm going to do my part by going out to buy mass quantities
of Roundup (TM) and the like to hose down any
greenery in my neighborhood.
  Doing so in full knowledge I'm doing ultimate good for
dah whole world, despite what it does to my neighborhood
lawns.

 

As Spock said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894349)

The need of the many outweigh the need of the few

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (2)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894437)

Get off my lawn!

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (3, Interesting)

DeathFromSomewhere (940915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894289)

Volcanoes release massive quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere that was previously locked up in limestone. In fact the CO2 released by volcanoes is the main reason snowball earth came to an end.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894891)

Correct. But Peter adds the Earth is cooling off and plate tectonics will slow down too. It looks like PT has been rpetty active for the past billion years. Earlier evidence is more sketchy.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (5, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894553)

Indeed, and it makes me want to slap the shit out of everybody who starts talking about 'carbon footprint'. Carbon is life itself.

Everybody worried about global temperature should really take a look at temperature over geologic timescales. Two centuries ago it was colder than any other time in the last two millennia. That last two millennia have been colder than most of the last ten or so since the last glacial period. Glacial periods notwithstanding, the last few million years have been the coldest in the last hundred million years. Modern, industrialized mankind was essentially born during the coldest period outside of an actual glacial cycle. Modern meteorology/climatoloy started at the bottom of a very cold well, and now that we're starting to get to temperatures that used to be normal, we're freaking out just because we haven't had to deal with it before in a conscious way. E.g. last time it was this warm we were still performing human sacrifices to appease imaginary agents of dubious intent. This whole society needs a clue-by-four to snap them out of the delusion that warming is the end of the world and any more a threat to life than all the other environmental changes that have already killed 99% of all species that have ever existed.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895135)

Last time it was this warm we didn't have a massive modern civilization to support.

If you're not worried about warming at all - say you live somewhere that will still have a secure food supply and won't be at any risk from harsher weather, and you have a FYGM attitude - maybe you should be worried about ocean acidification. Allowing runaway fossil carbon release because you don't personally mind the heat isn't even a viable option.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (4, Interesting)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895313)

I suppose you think the ocean has been the same pH forever too. Life adapts, and ocean life itself has shown an ability to spring back from as much as 90% species extinction. I'm not worried, especially as humans have the technology to build closed systems for environmental control and resource production/management. (Humanity too has sprung back from an immensely small population, as low as thousands at one point. We could lose 99.99999+% of our population and still have precedent for survival.)

The truly ironic thing is that people will now jump up my butt about how cold I am and what about all those people who might die. The same critics who, in a different context would be whining about overpopulation. Let me break it to you, the only way it is physically possible to have less people is for them to die. There is no magical fairy dust that makes population lower without people pushing up daisies. The cognitive dissonance is staggering.

(The double irony is that overpopulation is itself a myth, and anybody who knew anything about the real demographic data that shows that fertility rate has been on a downward rollercoaster for something like fifty years in almost every nation on earth. Population growth is leveling off, but that doesn't sell newspapers.)

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (2)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896291)

I'm not worried, especially as humans have the technology to build closed systems for environmental control and resource production/management.

You're not worried because you're hopelessly naive.

"Modern" people are so out of touch with the natural world because everything they need comes wrapped in a nice plastic container to their doorstep right now. I really can't wait to see the collective looks on their collective smug faces when food and water start to become scarce due to collapsing ecosystems. "What do you mean I can't get a McFish sandwich because there are no more fish in the ocean?"

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895941)

eeerrr, Hello all "Cooling deniers". Solar influences seem to be signaling a cool cycle is on the way. For those that want to test food security? We'll see how that goes in Alaska, Canada and Europe when the ground is covered with Snow & Ice. Oh while we're there. I wonder what happens to Africa's rainfall when the water is locked up making it snow in the northern latitudes? You want food security? Co2 accelerates plant growth! Cold temperatures enable the oceans to absorbe Co2. HHHmmm doesn't sound like a real good idea, reducing Co2, does it?

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38896313)

This whole society needs a clue-by-four to snap them out of the delusion that warming is the end of the world and any more a threat to life than all the other environmental changes that have already killed 99% of all species that have ever existed.

It's a threat to HUMAN life, dolt. Nobody's arguing that the planet Earth is going to become a sterile rock floating through space.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894563)

no worries, in 300 million years the earth will be too hot for multicellular life anyway due to expansion of Sun. Problem solved. And thus catastrophic global warming is guarenteed.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894937)

The competing Gaia hypothesis says life may do something to counteract this. Possible a combination of changing the atmosphere to repel radiation and new biochemistry to live at 100C.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895351)

well, there already are sngle celled hypothermophiles that can live at over 120 degree C, but DNA and RNA itself comes apart at 150 degrees C., so that puts a rather huge constraint on what can form in this world. there are theoretical alien chemistries with other elements, but they can't form on present or future earth.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (0)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894665)

Wha! Say it ain't so! We are....we are....we're LIFE GIVERS to the planet. SUVs are the savior's instruments of choice. How the fuck do you like them apples eh?! I just love irony when it tastes so delicious!

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895345)

There are a few things that release CO2... volcanos come to mind. And some of that is CO2 recycled from limestone.

The current amount of life on the planet may be unsustainable, but it's not likely to be eliminated. It'll just die back a bit.

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895387)

Unless some imbalance like humans come along, the trend is to pretty much lock up carbon for good.

Ah, the insight of George Carlin, world famous biologist:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScDfYzMEEw#t=5m25s

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895659)

Wait, Peter Wards. . .

Shouldn't it be:

Tyler Perry Presents. . .

Tyler Perry's "Medea Hypothesis"

Re:Peter Wards "Medea hypothesis" (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895821)

A year ago when we had this discussion, I responded "But what will the trees breathe?" and got marked troll. Oh well.

But seriously, I can see a possible counterbalance. At least in the US, we have been artificially repressing naturally occurring forest fires for over an hundred years. Could it be that periodic mass forest fires are one of nature's answers to too much carbon sequestering?

...major ice age which killed most of the plants (2, Insightful)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894221)

...major ice age which killed most of the plants, causing them to decompose and release the carbon again, starting an enormous cycle that is still going on today.

What is the moral of this story? Don't mess with the global carbon cycle if you don't want the Earth's climate to change enough to kill "most of us". Having said that, I'd rather live on a warmer world than a giant ball of ice. But I'm thinking there's probably a sweet spot somewhere between ball of ice and mosquitos the size of your head coming to give you drug-resistant malaria and dengue. If the latter happens, I'll probably carry a racquetball racquet with me everywhere I go (just in case). I don't think the DEET spray will cut it at that point.

Wait a minute here... (2, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894387)

So us crazy whack-O, "It's not man's CO2 emissions to blame for warming." May in fact be right.

I've argued against man made CO2's effect, but have been very vocal in that I think deforestation is far more to blame for climate change.

Now it looks like you're finally admitting what I've know all along. A little gas is one thing. Chopping down 20% of the rain forest...BIG EFFECT

Re:Wait a minute here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894551)

mod this up

Re:Wait a minute here... (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894673)

They're two sides of the same problem, on one hand we're moving more CO2 from the ground to the atmosphere and on the other we're reducing nature's ability to put it back (at the very least, when rainforests are cleared and the trees are burned), but you can't put the blame on one factor and not the other - and if you try you'll find that it's much harder to squeeze the blame onto deforestation.

Re:Wait a minute here... (2, Interesting)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38894857)

From the article:

About 460 million years ago, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere ranged somewhere between 14 and 22 times the current level, and the average global temperature was about 5C higher than it is now.

From www.globalchange.gov:

Based on scenarios that do not assume explicit climate policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global average temperature is projected to rise by 2 to 11.5F by the end of this century

Taking the data on trends in carbon dioxide [noaa.gov] measured at Mauna Loa, the 1960 concentration of CO2 was 320ppm. Taking an extreme value for annual increase in CO2 from their data of 2 ppm, doubling the CO2 concentration from the 1960 value wuold take 150 years, and increasing it to fourteen times the 1960 value -- a (low estimate) CO2 concentration at which the average global temperature was 5C higher -- would take almost 2000 years. But we're expected to believe the AGW doomcriers that, according to their tight, rigid, and scientifically-accurate climate models, we might see an increase of 6.4C by the end of the century with a tenth the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere?

And everyone running down the AGW skeptics wonders why we find it difficult to believe the reports 'proving' AGW and painting doomsday scenarios if we don't pour trillions of dollars into reducing CO2 emissions. Or even if we do pour trillions of dollars into reducing CO2 emissions, if you believe the reports that say we've already passed a tipping point.

Re:Wait a minute here... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895253)

Way to cherry pick. In the very same paragraph "At the time, the sun was as much as 6% fainter than it is now, Lenton says, so the planet-warming effect of greenhouse gases wasn't as strong."

Re:Wait a minute here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895423)

Your calculations are meaningful if all other variables between our current situation and the situation 460 million years ago are the same. However, they're not. As a single example, note the sentence at the end of the first paragraph you quoted, which states:

At the time, the sun was as much as 6% fainter than it is now, Lenton says, so the planet-warming effect of greenhouse gases wasn't as strong.

Or how about just the very next sentence after the one you quoted:

Climate models suggest that widespread glaciations couldn't take place at that time unless CO2 levels dropped to about eight times what they are at present

They're stating that for glaciation to occur, CO2 levels had to drop to a level that is 8 times higher than our current level, which by your calculations should mean that we're currently about 3C below the next ice age. Clearly, conditions are just a tad different than they were 460 million years ago, and your calculations are meaningless.

Re:Wait a minute here... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895785)

And this is why the AGW deniers aren't taken seriously: you cherry-pick your facts. Besides the fact that the rest of the paragraph that you quoted explains why your assumptions are wrong, you also ignored that the rate of CO2 growth is increasingly linearly, which means that the actual CO2 output is increasing exponentially, thereby making your calculations way, way off.

In other words (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895789)

you don't care what you mess up since you don't feel like manning up and paying the price to fix your mistakes. therefore, let's lie our sorry asses off as long as possible. you see, I've raised young children and can recognize their self-entitled attempts to avoid accepting responsibility for their actions quite well. funny ting is, my kids grew out of that phase, why didn't you?

Re:Wait a minute here... (5, Insightful)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895007)

Now it looks like you're finally admitting what I've know all along. A little gas is one thing. Chopping down 20% of the rain forest...BIG EFFECT

Yeah, good for you. Have a nice little pat-yourself-on-the-back-for-being-so-smart? Now recognize that both in combination have a greater effect than either one alone, and you'll be right there with the rest of us.

--Jeremy

Re:Wait a minute here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38895223)

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Plants breath in CO2. Like, our vegetables? Fruit. Grains, etc.

With a background in farming and later microbiology, I don't understand how so many have extrapolated "pollution is bad", which is true, into "CO2 is the unit of measure", which it is not. Interesting how actually dangerous industrial pollutants aren't *ever* brought up.

Re:Wait a minute here... (1, Troll)

deander2 (26173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895403)

ohhhh.... you know, good point. i bet those thousands of independent scientists worldwide who've been studying global warming for decades forgot all about deforestation as a possible cause. it's a good thing concerned citizens with awesome gut instincts like yourself are around to show them the way! :)

It's the Economy! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894485)

An excess of plants, especially trees, can lead to runaway inflation, as proved when earth was largely populated with telephone sanitizers and other middle management types. We must burn the forests to save the economy!

So that means... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894581)

We need to ramp up our deforestation programs. We're in a race here, gentlemen! Either it's the plants, or us.

Then HUMANS came along (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38894687)

Then HUMANS came along and began replenishing all that CO2, destroying the ice left over from the ice age. I guess we all have to die for this cycle to repeat again....

Finally we have the purpose for animals! (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895985)

The plants created animals simply to keep warm! brilliant!!
That is, until their new creations evolved into monsters out of their control!

We need this on Mars (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895339)

Seriously, we need to get plants to mars that can break down the rocks and provide an atmosphere.

Mars can't keep it (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895717)

From what I understand (IANAA - I am not an astronomer), the reason Mars doesn't have any atmo is that it lacks a magnetic field. Lacking a magnetic field, the Solar Wind strips away the atmosphere.

Also, in order to have plants that can break down the rocks, you must first have enough atmosphere to support the plants.

Re:We need this on Mars (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38895767)

Seriously, we need to get plants to mars that can break down the rocks and provide an atmosphere.

Sounds like a recipe for harsh living conditions. I wouldn't want another China on our hands.
I'll only support your agenda if the Martian Plant workers are allowed to unionize.

So this proves that global warming is just (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38896345)

So this proves that global warming is just, "Nature".

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