Wednesday, April 02, 2014

If You Love to Wallow in Nature —

 The Sixth Extinction:
Elizabeth Kolbert  The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Henry Holt and Company, New York, New York, 2014

"To find carbon dioxide levels (and therefore, ultimately, global temperatures) higher than today’s requires going back a long way, perhaps as far as the mid-Miocene, fifteen million years  ago. It’s quite possible that by the end of this century, Co2 levels could reach a level not seen since the Antarctic palms of the Eocene some fifty million years ago.  Whether species still possess the features that allowed their ancestors to thrive in that ancient warmer world is, at this point, impossible to say.

“For plants to tolerate warmer temperatures there’s all sorts of things that they could do,” Silman told me. “They could manufacture special proteins.  They could change their metabolism, things like that.  But thermal tolerance can be costly.  And we haven’t seen temperatures like those that are predicted in millions of years. So the question is: have plants and animals retained over this huge amount of time—whole radiations of mammals have come and gone in this period—have they retained these potentially costly characteristics?  If they have, then we may get a pleasant surprise.” But what if they haven’t?  What if they’ve lost these costly characteristics because for so many millions of years, they provided no advantage?

“If evolution works the way it usually does, “ Silman said, “then the extinction scenario— we don’t call it extinction we talk about it as ‘biotic attrition,’ a nice euphemism— well, it starts to look apocalyptic.”

# # #
If you love to trek, hike, paddle, or climb in nature, you may wish to head for your favorite natural attraction and enjoy.  There is no telling how long the beauty will continue to exist.  The bark beetles of the central Sierra Nevada of California are on the move - could it be due to the change in climate?
The Oceans are acidifying as they are forced to accept massively higher amounts of carbon dioxide.
Amphibians across the planet are plagued to death by virus.  Whole species have died off in the past few years.  Is there a relationship between Carbon dioxide emissions from man made sources?  Probably.

I am reminded that it is time to head for the hills, to paddle over the seas, to take what may be this last opportunity to bask in nature as those of us over 40 have enjoyed it.  Creationists aren't worried about the outcomes.  Scientists are.  Fill your backpack, grab your trekking poles and your canoe, your kayak before the devastation is so extreme as to destroy what we love.  Take pleasure in what we have known because it may not be here for long.