Earth’s Crystal Ball

The Antarctic getting hot, ice sheets turning into slush, Colorado-sized ice slabs slipping into the ocean, and sea levels rising 65 feet. This dystopian picture is not just one from Twist, but is a reflection of the Earth’s past and her future.

“Who told us there was no such thing as global warming? Bye-bye L.A. Bye-bye New York, San Francisco, Miami—all the costal cities gone, and the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi valley right to our front door. If only I’d had a crystal ball.”

Adam Twist’s wish might just have come true: researchers seem to have a new crystal ball, Earth’s geological record. Lately, in environmental news, studies have been linking events from thousands of years past to our plausible future. A few weeks ago, I blogged about how evidence from weathering 93 million years ago shows the way our planet will recover from global warming in the future. Today, I read a new study that explores a time period, 5.3 million years ago, when the atmosphere had similar levels of CO2.  According to this study, the high temperatures and CO2 count 5 million years ago are what we expect the Earth to reach again by the year 3000. During that harsh period, almost no ice sheets survived. The ice sheets on Greenland and the West Antarctic were completely melted. They previously thought the East Antarctic was safe and cold; however, researchers discovered it was quickly liquefying too. This contributed to the rapid and high rise in sea levels. Scientists are predicting that if temperature increases remain constant and ice melts as it has in the past, the seas could rise 65 feet! To repeat Adam Twist,  “Bye-bye”.

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