300 million years ago the global transition from ice age to greenhouse occurred. It was marked by repeated dips and rises in the amount of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere as well as erratic temperatures. This had drastic effects on forests and vegetations according to the report which is published in Science.
"It was a real yo-yo," said UC Davis geochemist Isabel Montanez, who led researchers from five universities and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in a project funded by the National Science Foundation. "Should we expect similar but faster climate behavior in the future? One has to question whether that is where we are headed."
This new report counters the usual view that global warming may be gradual and its effects easily anticipated and able to be somewhat controlled.
In 2006, carbon dioxide levels reached 380 ppm. This has influenced the annual temperature rising about 0.36 of a degree Fahrenheit each decade for the last 30 years.
The scientists studied the late Paleozoic period, between 305 million and 265 million years ago, when Earth was far different.
"This is the closest thing we have to a direct analogue to the future," said geoscientist Lee Kump at Pennsylvania State University, who also was not a member of the research team. "If we want to better understand the [contemporary] climate response, we have to go back to this late Paleozoic period."
Montanez, leader of the project, said that the studies suggest that "the normal behavior in major climate transitions is instability, erratic temperature behavior and carbon dioxide changes."
Less fuel for those who say global warming may be a gradual occurrence that will be manageable.. this report definitely shows something quite different, at least in relation to the past. Definitely a breakthrough. Hopefully this is something we can all learn for and it really is another motivator to do what we can to curb global warming now.