by Robert Wilkinson
It seems a new study confirms the bad news: Temperatures are rising faster today than they have at any point since at least the end of the last ice age about 11,000 years ago. Time to begin preparing for environmental changes like we’ve never known before.
Apparently scientists have reconstructed temperature records back to the Holocene Period, the geologic epoch before this one. Here’s more from the story from Science at NBC News:
Another way to think of it is the period where human civilization was born, created, and developed and then progressed to where we are now," Shuan Marcott, a climate scientist at Oregon State University who led the study, told NBC News.
In that time humans discovered bread and beer, learned to farm, cobbled together cities, linked them together in a web of global trade, fought wars, and, in the last 100 years or so, burned mountains of fossil fuels that filled the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, a heat trapping gas.
As the fossil fuel-burning ratcheted up, the global temperature rose 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit. That rise, Marcott said, "Is unprecedented compared to what we are showing in our reconstruction ..."
... Overall, Marcott and colleagues note Thursday in the journal Science, the planet today is warmer than it has been for about 75 percent of the Holocene. Given the rate of warming projected by climate models, the planet will be warmer by 2100 than at any point since at least the last ice age.
Here’s a little more. From Michael Mann, climate scientist at Penn State who invented the “hockey stick graph” first introduced in 1999,
"The real issue, from a climate change impacts point of view, is the rate of change — because that’s what challenges our adaptive capacity," he said in a statement to NBC News. "And this paper suggests that the current rate has no precedent as far back as we can go with any confidence."
The resolution of the reconstruction is averaged into 100-year segments, which means yearly or every-decade variability fails to show up in the new study. There could have been a period sometime in the past 11,000 years that was warmer than today, but if so it wasn’t sustained for at least 100 years.
If you’re so inclined, please go to the original article, which has a graph that shows explicitly exactly what we’re up against from a historical perspective. We’re warming up fast, which has major implications for the Greenland ice cap melt and therefore life anywhere near a coast or river.
To paraphrase an iconic image of our times, “It’s melting, melting, melting...”
If you live near a coastline or river, get your boats ready, folks. When the scientists openly state we’re in uncharted territory regarding rising planet temperatures, then you know something’s up!
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson