Well, Damn. Carbon Emissions On The Planet Are Now Greater Than They’ve Been In 66 Million Years

by 2 years ago
Jaenschwalde Coal-Fired Power Plant

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There … there’s no away to sugarcoat this one, Bros. I know you don’t like your Debbie Downer news delivered without a hint of upside and devil-may-care flippancy, but there’s nothing fun about extincting ourselves off our own planet.

Carbon emissions are now pretty much the greatest they’ve ever been on Earth, surpassing even a massive release of frozen greenhouse gases 55 million years ago that fucked up the place good. Via Reuters:

That ancient release, which drove temperatures up by an estimated 5 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) and damaged marine life by making the oceans acidic, is often seen as a parallel to the risks from the current build-up of carbon in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.

A ten degree rise across the planet? That’s fucking terrible. But we are pumping more carbon into the atmosphere than what caused that cataclysmic event.

[Lead author Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii] examined the chemical makeup of fossils of tiny marine organisms in the seabed off the New Jersey in the United States to gauge that ancient warming, known as the Paleoeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

Current carbon emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are about 10 billion tonnes a year, against 1.1 billion a year spread over 4,000 years at the onset of the fast warming 56 million years ago, the study found.

Oh, so, by a lot. And much much much faster. This … this won’t end well.

U.N. studies project that temperatures could rise by up to 4.8C this century, causing floods, droughts and more powerful storms, if emissions rise unchecked. Carbon dioxide forms a weak acid in seawater, threatening the ability of creatures such as lobsters or oysters to build protective shells.

Well, I’m cool if lobsters and oysters go by the wayside, but the rest of it sounds pretty shitty.


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