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The Grand View: 4 Billion Years Of Climate Change

Submitted by Doug L. Hoffman — 08/27/2009 — The Resilient Earth

Two of the terms bandied about by global warming alarmists are “unprecedented” and “irreversible.” It is troubling that scientists, who should know better, persist in  using these terms even though the history of our planet clearly shows that neither term is accurate. Proof of this inaccuracy is obvious if we look back over the history of Earth, taking the “Grand View” of historical climate change.

According to Meg Urry, the head of the physics department at Yale University: “Scientists observe nature, then develop theories that describe their observations. Science is driven by nature itself, and nature gives us no choice. It is what it is.” While some of the dates presented here may change and scientists continue to argue some of the fine points, here is what science thinks it knows about life, the Universe and everything.

Around 13.7 billion years ago the Universe came into existence. Not long afterward the Milky Way galaxy was formed. Stars formed, transmuted elements in nuclear fire and ended their lives in supernovae explosions. This cycle was repeated many times for many different stars.

Then, 4.6 billion years ago our Sun was born out of the ashes of older dead stars. Along with the Sun a large brood of planets was also formed, including the one we call Earth. A million years after the birth of our sun, the violent explosion of a nearby supernova nearly ended life on Earth before it began. Over the next four and a half billion years, forces of nature shaped our planet and the life it harbored.

Buffeted by supernovae, barely surviving the traumatic birth of the Moon, bombarded by asteroids, the resilient Earth endured. And despite planet-freezing ice ages, devastating mass extinctions and ever changing climate life not only survived, it thrived.  Even though meteors continued to rain down on the young planet there is evidence that as long as 4.2 billion years ago liquid water, the prerequisite for life as we know it, was present. The evidence also indicates that life has been present on our planet for close to 4 billion years, though for most of that time it was relatively simple single celled life. At the start, Earth’s atmosphere was a toxic mix of methane, carbon dioxide and ammonia—oxygen was nearly absent in the atmosphere of early Earth. To humans and most of the world’s familiar flora and fauna, this atmosphere would have been toxic.

Asteroid impacts, tremendous volcanic eruptions, and shifting tectonic plates resulted in drastic changes in climate and the emergence of new life forms. Somewhere along the way the simple microorganisms, which were ancient Earth’s only inhabitants, developed photosynthesis that created a net gain of oxygen first in the ocean and later in the atmosphere. Then, 2.3 billion years ago, the world’s first ecological disaster occurred when free oxygen established a permanent presence in the atmosphere. Known as the Great Oxidation or the Oxygen Catastrophe, almost every living thing on Earth died as a result of this massive bacteria-induced climate change.

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  • Earth’s temperature is always changing.
  • Over time there have been periods when it has been colder than it is today.
  • Life has persisted during periods both hot and cold.
  • There is no one “right” temperature.
  • Carbon dioxide has always been present in Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Over time there have been periods when CO2has increased and decreased naturally.
  • Life has persisted during periods with high CO2 and low CO2.
  • CO2levels will change with or without human contributions.
  • Over time there have been a number of ice ages—Life has endured multiple ice ages.

What the future holds climate scientists are unable to portend with all their computer models and IPCC consensus reports. The Earth and its climate are constantly changing—there is no one correct climate or temperature for our planet. Those who say CO2 is the most important factor in climate change, that human GHG emissions will cause runaway global warming, have no historical basis for such claims.

As Earth’s climate history has shown, nothing predicted by the global warming alarmists would be unprecedented—Earth’s climate has been colder than today’s and much, much warmer. CO2 levels have also been many times higher than they currently are, even during ice ages. Ice ages come and go, caused by mechanisms mankind is powerless to control. And after every ice age the world warms and the glaciers disappear only to return millions of years later. No change in climate is irreversible. Given 4 billion years of Earth history and 542 million years of complex life, blaming mankind for 9,000 years of global warming seems rather silly.

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