The Earth is 4.5 billion years old, Humans have lived say for 100,000 years, the earth, much before the arrival of humans has seen major extinctions and climatic changes that were far dramatic than one in place today and we have the conceit to think we can stop this climate change by using fewer plastic bags!
Earth is a self correcting planet and we have to worry about ourselves not the planet in face of climate change. Every major species that has lived on the face of this planet have been wiped off earth and we are destined next, but all we can do is to delay this and this is why?
Earth’s unstable climate
Life on Earth has flourished and evolved for hundreds of millions of years. However, this does not mean that the climate has been stable throughout this time. Geological data shows evidence of large-scale climate changes in the past, caused by factors like the tilt of the Earth’s axis and tectonic plate movement (as climate is affected by the distribution of the planet’s continents). Some of these changes were gradual; others were much more rapid.
In the mid Cretaceous, about 100 million years ago, The planet was warmer than today – scientists have estimated it was 6 – 8°C warmer. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were about 5 times higher than today. These warm conditions lasted for tens of million of years before the climate started cooling.
Rapid temperature change
The geological record also reveals dramatic events when there was much more rapid climate change. One of the fastest changes in Earth’s temperature took place during an event that oceanographers call the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum.
55 million years ago, global temperatures rose 6°C over a period of 20,000 years or less. Like climate change today, scientists think that an increase in greenhouse gases caused this rapid warming. This was possibly due to a catastrophic release of frozen methane deposits – like carbon dioxide, methane is a greenhouse gas. This period of climate change caused major ecosystem changes and extinction of many species.
An inescapable conclusion of this is that the Earth’s climate is unstable and minor changes in the Earth’s energy budget cause large changes in climate.
Will the planet survive human interference?
There is some comfort in the knowledge that even the worst-case models of future climate change are unlikely to result in the Earth experiencing climates warmer than those seen in the Cretaceous. So, we are unlikely to make the planet uninhabitable for life.
Unfortunately though, a rapid change to much warmer temperatures and higher sea levels would cause enormous disruption to ecosystems and human society across the world. Some future climate change is inevitable but anything we can do to reduce the scale of this change will be worthwhile else we have to pack or bags and hope to find another planet to destroy!
In closing in the words of great George Carlin,If we keep doing what we are doing the earth will shake us like a mild case of fleas, a surface nuisance, an evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet is going no where, but the people are! Pack your bags folks!