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April 18, 2011

Looking Back to the Future

Earlier today I pointed to an amusing web comic that mapped the future based on Google search results. But serious folks are looking into the future by studying the past. Atmospheric carbon is currently sitting at around 390 parts per million and creeping up toward the 400 benchmark. The last time it was that high was

around 3 million years ago, during the Pliocene. Back then, CO2 levels remained at around 365 to 410 ppm for thousands of years. Consequently, the Pliocene gives us vital clues of the long-term effects of raised CO2 levels. New research has just been published that examines this period and confirms previous findings that the Pliocene was dramatically warmer than current temperatures.

Back then, sea levels were about 25 meters higher than where they are at right now. Click here for more on the Pliocene period and links to the scientific research that's backing it up.

-- Brian Foley

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