Misleading Reporting from Smithsonian About Tropical Forests on a Warmer Planet

By November 11, 2011 February 20th, 2013 Deniers and Delayers

 An article in Science, published by the good folks at the Smithsonian, reports that 56 million years ago when Earth was 3 to 5 degrees C warmer durign a freak super abrupt climate change called the Eocene / Paleocene Thermal Maximum; in 10,000 years, CO2 doubled. The reuslting warming lasted for 200,000 years. The best cause for the warming at this time was probably gassing of methane clathrates, but there is still a lot of questions as to why the event occured. This resaerch team found that, on a warmer planet, tropical forests were more diverse. they looked at preserved pollen in 56 million year cracks in rocks. The authro of thepress release repeateeddly illuded to this finding as something that may not neccesarily mean that warming to come in the future will mean bad things for tropical forests. The study sites were in far northeastern Columbia and far northwestern Venezuela. Once, near the bottom of the release, one of the authors was quoted. He mentioned the possibility that some computer models said that drying could lead to droughts that would mean that their findings did not make sense. 

What makes less sense however is that it is a well established projection that the interior of continents will become drier as our climate changes.  These sceintists study sites that were near what was then the Caribea-Pacific Ocean / Sea.  You see, The Isthmus of Panama had not risen from the ocean yet. What’s more, the Northern Andes had not been uplifted yet either. The Earth that this press release compares to tody was hardly similar to Earth today.

Simple findings such as this should not be compared to anything, unless the author has a full understanding … or at least a half-assed understanding of what the hell is going on!

Jaramillo, et. al., Effects of Rapid Global Warming at the Paleocene-Eocene Boundary on Neotropical Vegetation, Science, November 2010.