An article published today in Tech Times reports that Petra Tschakert, a climate scientist, believes the “world’s target of limiting to a 2°C global average temperature increase may not be enough.” Would a two-degree rise in temperatures really mean the end of the world as we know it? Earth’s history tells a different story.
Petra Tschakert, a lead author of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, said that the 2°C target “may pose a threat to livelihoods and.” What he doesn’t tell you is that Earth has gone through much warmer periods than we have today, and has flourished and thrived quite nicely.
“A low temperature target is the best bet to prevent severe, pervasive, and potentially irreversible impacts while allowing ecosystems to adapt naturally, ensuring food production and security, and enabling economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner,” writes Tschakert.
If that sounds like Alinksy-speak, who penned the book “Rules for Radicals,” you wouldn’t be far off the mark. Saul Alinksy’s rule #3 states, “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Meaning, most people have no idea what Tschakert just said, but it sounds like expert advice, and they are oft-repeated talking points that no one ever questions.
We already have a living museum of what a warming world would like, and it’s all stored in fossil records and ice cores. In fact, over the last hundred years our planet’s 4.5-billion-year history has been dissected apart so thoroughly, we have a very good understanding of life in a warmer world. As you go back in time and really look at the planet’s past, the target of 2°C seems rather meaningless in the scheme of things.
First we’ll journey back to the Cretaceous period (144-66 million years ago), where CO2 was 1700 parts per million (over 4x higher than today’s 400 ppm) and the average global temperature was 4°C higher than modern levels. According to Wikipedia,
“The Cretaceous was a period with a relatively warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels and creating numerous shallow inland seas. These oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles, ammonites and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. At the same time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared.”
This period of incredible biodiversity also ended abruptly. Not because of high CO2 levels or warmer temperatures that helped usher in the most abundant array of life ever seen, but due to a meteor strike in the Gulf of Mexico that wiped out most life on Earth.
As Anthony Watts, a meteorologist who runs the popular science blog Watts up with That?, writes in an article, “Was the Cretaceous too warm for Earth’s diverse species? Absolutely not – the Cretaceous hosted a bounty of life and biodiversity, the emergence of the first flowering plants, the first appearance of our mammal ancestors. The Dinosaurs dominated the warm Cretaceous for 80 million years, a long period during which life flourished.”
Further back in time we come to the Carboniferous period (358-299 million years ago, where CO2 was twice what it is today and the average global temperature was 0°C higher. So if CO2 levels were twice the level that they are today, why didn’t the temperature increase concomitantly?
Our journey into deep time takes us to the Cambrian period (541–485.4 million years ago), where CO2 levels were a whopping 4500 ppm, 11 times higher than today. And the mean surface temperature was a modest 21°C (69.8°F). It was only during the Neogene period (which ended about 3 million years ago) did CO2 levels drop dramatically to 280 ppm and the mean surface temperature plunged 12 degrees to 14°C (57.2°F).
All of these periods have one thing in common: rich ecosystems, abundant life forms, and a profusion of diverse, adaptable bioregions across the planet. Repeating the same talking points that we know what’s best for Earth (which doesn’t include our technological achievements) and that our ecosystems are somehow in jeopardy is nothing more than a false narrative.
Watts goes on to say that the lesson we can learn from all this is that “we have nothing to fear from CO2. And if our civilisation has any money to spare on preparations for possible disasters, we should be spending that money on building meteor defences, not on trying to curb harmless CO2 emissions.”