Folly (cont.)

June 05, 2006

The last time the Earth's atmosphere was full of greenhouse gases was 55 million years ago, and now the journal Nature reports that things grew so warm in the Arctic back then that the ocean temperature there was about 73 degrees. That's considerably warmer than the Atlantic was off Ocean City last week. It suggests that the polar regions react much more dramatically to climate swings than previously thought, and it means there was no ice anywhere in the far north (and probably the far south).

Something similar today would be catastrophic, for a number of reasons - and the alarming growth in industrial greenhouse gases raises the possibility that it could in fact happen again. Yet what is the lesson that some geologists are taking away from this? All that warm water must have supported a lot of plankton and other marine life in those prehistoric times, and that means there might now be considerably more petroleum under the Arctic than previously thought. This isn't a warning at all - it's an opportunity!

Well, if we're going to steam or roast or bake ourselves to a fare-thee-well, we might as well get on with it, and let the devil take the hindmost - it'll be his kind of world, anyway, by the time this is over.

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