An experiment of nature on the effect of intense global warming has
already occurred in the Eocene 38-55 million yrs. ago; the so-called
Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).(1,4) There were no massive
extinctions comparative to that of Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) period
defining the Mezozoic/Cenazocic eras at 65Myrs. At Paleocene-Eocene
divide, paleo-stratigraphic results show that there was deep water
benthic foraminifera mass extinction associated with increased
temperature and hence dysoxic (less oxygenated) waters.(1) But most
marine and terrestrial extinctions occurred with cooling at the end of
Eocene, and into Oligocene epoch.(1) Any consequences of any (?) recent
short warming trend are unknown in regards to extinctions. However
nature already has conducted one experiment in regards to intense global
warming, with seemingly not overwhelming catastrophic results.
An alternative question for the future and for our cognition/imagination
might be as follows: From current habit destruction and hence species
extinction, for say 100,000 years duration; would this be significant
enough to leave a paleo-stratigraphic signature say 1-3 million years
hence? PETM might be considered herein as maximizing for over
approximately 3 Myrs. So for shallow geological time, might the current
extinction times we are inducing, be more likely to leave a signature
(if any?) due more to habit destruction (and ocean degrading
environment?) than to any long term geological stratigraphic
consequences from any possible global warming? TMM
1. Hallam Tony, Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities Oxford Univ Press,
2004, and references therein.
2. Raup David M., Extinction: Bad Genes or bad Luck?, W.W. Norton, 1991,
and references therein.
3. Stanley Steven M., Extinction, Scientific American Books, 1987, and
4. Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Wikipedia.
some look at things and ask why,
while others dream of things that never were,
and ask why not.
George Barnard Shaw