Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Further thoughts on Global Warming

As much to be a pain in the ass as for any other reason, I am beginning to wonder, just wonder mind you - not conclude, whether global warming might not be a good thing.

During most of the time since the Cambrian (the past 545 million years) the earth has been both much warmer than it is now and has had much higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. For the past 60 million years the temperature has been declining and the climate getting drier. (According to a graph I saw at the Denver Museum of Science and a botany textbook I just finished.) The only time in the past half-billion years that has been colder was a brief episode in the Permian period, at the end of the Palaeozoic. Shortly (if a few million years can be called "shortly") after the Permian cold period, 70 percent of aquatic species and 95 to 97 percent of land species became extinct. The Permian Event dwarfed the K-T Event 66 million years ago that extinguished the dinosaurs but did away with far fewer species.

The actual operation, I posit, is that declining temperatures progressively shrank the tropical forests until they vanished. Most of the temperate areas shrank too. I think that is how the Permian Event came about.

Most of the species on the planet right now are in the tropical forests. Continuing cooling could easily lead to the continued shrinkage of the tropical climate areas and their eventual disappearance. With the disappearance of the tropical forests would come the extinction of all of the tropical species, just as in the Permian.

Anthropogenic global warming can reverse that. Global warming will reverse the shrinking of the tropics. It means the tropics may eventually become larger, the arctic smaller. I figured out in driving south the past couple of days that the main difference between the green productive fields of Alberta and the taiga wastelands of the Northwest Territories is only a few degrees. The reason the few degrees matter so much is that it is enough that Alberta has normal soil in which crops grow, and the NWT has permafrost in which only stunted trees grow.

Global warming would make the NWT, Yukon, Alaska, Greenland, Siberia, Lappland, and Iceland as habitable as the Midwest is today. It could give humanity a whole new continent to live on when the ice in Antarctica melts. The alternative might be to slide into another Permian Event mass extinction.

It could be the reason the human race is here, our purpose, to cause global warming. Also it is an excuse to continue to drive an RV that gets 10 miles to the gallon..... :o)