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A new paper in Science casts further doubt on the usefulness of
the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) as a warning of what we
face from man-made carbon emissions. Tropical rain forests became
more diverse, not less, during the warm spell.
The paleontologist who made this discovery told Science News:
"We were expecting to find rapid
extinction, a total change in the forest," says study leader Carlos
Jaramillo, a biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research
Institute in Balboa, Panama. "What we found was just the opposite -
a very fast addition of many new species, and a huge spike in the
diversity of tropical plants."
So here is what we know about the PETM:
- the warming was gradual, about 5C over 10,000 years. That's
about one-five-hundredth of the speed of warming at the end of the
last ice age
- carbon dioxide levels increased but probably did not
- tropical forests thrived
- it was 55m years ago when all sorts of things were different,
including the shape and position of the continents
- nobody knows what caused it
And yet we are asked to believe that this is one of the
strongest arguments for spending trillions of dollars that could be
spent on allevi