4 September 2006
A new article out tonight caught my eye. Researchers inthe Antarctic have now contructed a record of the earth’s Carbon Dioxide levels for the past 800,000 years.
It was thought that our CO2 might be higher right now than it has been in this time and sure enough that is what they found.
This is just another supporting piece of evidence that the industrial revolution is very likely changing our climate. Their is also a way comparing the relative amounts of two types of oxygen in the atmosphere to estimate the global temperature over the least 800,000 years.
See Oxygen comes in two types. O16 is what you and I breathe mostly but every now and then is a molecule of Oxygen with 18 protons instead of 16. It turns out that this ratio is very dependant on temperature.
So all you do is drill down through ice that is a half million years old in Antarctica, and extract some air frozen in ice bubbles. You compare the oxygen ratio with what we have now, and what we have already discovered about the climate in the last few hundred years. You end up with a record of planetary average temperature!.
A record that goes much further back than the invention of thermometers! Or science itself, for that matter!
So what does it show? It shows that when the CO2 levels rise, the earths temp. rises with it. When the CO2 drops, the earth gets cooler.
Since the CO2 levels are likely to keep rising, at an ever increasing rate, for the next century or so. This spells bad news for our climate.
So why care if it is a bit warmer? Just a few degrees of warming will melt the polar ice caps. Melt the ice caps and sea level rises enough to flood a good chunk of Florida, New York City and the home of about one out of every 5 people on the planet. Don’t think for a second that this is far fetched. For much of Earth’s history, there have been no ice caps and this planet was much warmer than now.
In the end though, things will average out. We will be heading into an ice age again in about 10,000 years…as much as I love snow, I wish I had been born about 9,500 years from now-that would be some fun forecasting!