New study shows global temperature highest in 1,400 years

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Posted Sun, Apr 28, 2013

Small remnants of snow melt as the sun previews the upcoming warm weather on April 24 in Broomfield, Colo. [Photo by Maureen Bayne]

Small remnants of snow melt as the sun previews the upcoming warm weather on April 24 in Broomfield, Colo. [Photo by Maureen Bayne]

DENVER— According to a study released by an international compilation of climatologists on www.nature.com, from 1971-2000 average global temperatures peaked higher than they have in almost 1,400 years.

With summer in sight, this means a whole new set of problems—drought, heat exhaustion and crop shortages. It could even mean devastating climate changes that could negatively affect the economy and environment.

Additionally, after the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, many activists and scientists have increased their attention on global climate change, an issue that has dominated the environmental discussion for almost a decade. However, imposing or terrifying the aspect of a global climate shift may seem, according to a study released by Gallup, only 34 percent of Americans actually believe that global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetimes.

Moreover, some are still questioning whether human beings are to blame. Some scientists argue that increased temperatures merely represent a common cycle that can be observed many times in Earth’s geological past.

Dr. Uwe Kackstaetter, professor of geology at Metropolitan State University of Denver, describes a moment in Earth’s history where increased temperatures wiped out 95 percent of all living things.

“If I look at some huge catastrophes, much greater than what we as humans could probably could ever live out in even our most mischievous ways,” Kackstaetter said. “The end of the Permian period saw the greatest mass extinction that the planet has ever seen. There are several theories what might have happened. The best one is connected with the Siberian flats. In Siberia, there was a tremendous basalt flow off many colossal sights. It’s termed a flood-basalt eruption, similar to the Colombia river plateau, which means you get a crack somewhere, and magma oozes out.”

The resulting magma flow released carbon dioxide and many other toxic gasses into the atmosphere, which raised temperatures, and the high temperatures released methane gas.

“Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide,” Kackstaetter said. “That went into the atmosphere and then our global temperatures would have risen at this time by more than 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).”

The rise in global temperature that we are dealing with today is roughly 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit. So it’s true that this slight increase is not going to mean the end of all life on the planet. However, it does mean that the Earth is going through a period of change, from which it will probably bounce back.

Kackstaetter points out that even after the last devastating mass extinction, the Earth returned to normality in about 100 thousand years.

“In geologic terms that is a snap of a finger,” Kackstaetter said. “We can burn all the fossil fuels and all the tires in the world and we wouldn’t even get close to what happened in this time. And this rebounding we see over and over again in the Earth’s history.”

This means that the planet—if it were a conscious entity—does not view this warm weather as particularly threatening. But, as humans, this miniscule change in climate could be extremely destructive. However this heat wave continues, it is likely to be yet another unbearably hot summer.

GLOBEL WARMING?

• 18 percent of Americans view climate change as a high priority
• 69 percent of Americans believe that there is solid evidence for global warming
• 74 percent believe that the government should regulate greenhouse gas emissions
• 49 percent of the public believes that global warming is caused by humans, as opposed to 84 percent of scientists

About Maureen Bayne

Maureen Bayne grew up in the small town Aztec, New Mexico. Later, she moved to Bakersfield, CA, where she graduated from Bakersfield High School. After attending Colorado State University for two years, she moved to Berkeley, CA, where she studied art at Berkeley Community College. She is currently living in Westminster, CO and is seeking a degree in magazine journalism at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

View all posts by Maureen Bayne

3 Responses to “New study shows global temperature highest in 1,400 years”

  1. Aaron Lambert Says:

    Interesting topic! Informative and well-written. In the future, I would try and shy away from using “according to…” statements, and instead attribute information or statistics using “said” or “says”. Also, I think there should be an “as” before the word “imposing” in the third paragraph.

    Reply

  2. Emily Pennetti Says:

    Very informative! Liked the box at the end.

    Reply

  3. Davy Says:

    Great story. Good idea to discuss this important topic.

    Reply

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