Posts Tagged ‘Antarctic’


I understand that a new phase of drilling has found evidence that 53 million years ago during the Eocene period there were palm trees, macadamia and baobab growing in Antartica. I can’t wait to see how the nay sayers hijack this. Apparently the scientists have also found Archaea which is a single celled organism that can indicate temperature at the time of their demise.

This is fascinating stuff and shows that life can go on. The investigation concludes that the mean winter temperature in Antartica was ten degrees centigrade, daily summer temperatures were in the 20’s. At the time of the eocene, CO2 levels were, apparently, almost double those recorded today. So in theory if the entire world population were to move to the continental Antartic we could live quite happily, like penguins standing huddled together. Not because it is a way of keeping warm, because there would be no room. The entire world would also have to become pescatorian as it is unlikely there would be much if any land capable of growing food. Who knows how long it would take for the seas to run dry of anything edible.

Furthermore, the Eocene period did not arise, in geological terms, overnight. There was a long period allowing creatures (no humans about then) to adapt to the changing climate. With the rapid increase of CO2 currently being experienced, there is little time for the diversity of creatures necessary to sustain mutually supportive guilds to adapt.  To take just a few examples, plants need to adapt to changed environments, but still need to produce pollen and seed. Bees are needed to pollinate the plants, they need to adapt and the bee population is already stressed by human attack and climate change. Mammals and birds eat fruit and scatter seed in their dung, they too will need to adapt, any one failure leads to a gap in the cycle of nature and, potentially, a failing of the system. These examples are of necessity over simplistic but usefully illustrate the point.

Of course the planet will regenerate, perhaps. But it will do so without people. The ultimate smack in the face from an abused planet.

Think about this, the Eocene was 53 million years ago. Homo Sapiens developed anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago. The sun has about 5.5 billion years worth of hydrogen left, give or take. It is conceivable that in the time from our demise another civilisation could rise. They will probably use the carbon, stored by the earth from our bodies to fuel their vehicles cause climate change and repeat the sad cycle again.

The earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, she has run about half of her life, assuming dependence on the sun. Multicellular life is believed to have formed around 580 million years ago. I can’t do the sums but that is about 3.9 billion years for life to even start.

Six million years ago our ancestoral line diverged from that of chimpanzees. The earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago and the planet existed quite happily for 4.4998 billion years before we pitched up 200,000 years ago. For 5800000 years the planet suffered no lasting consequences of our ancestors existence. It would seem that in what the beat of a gnats wing Homo Sapiens have managed to despoil our planet almost to the point of no return.

There is an expression used in these parts, ‘You don’t shit on your own doorstep’. Well, it seems we do.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19077439

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