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Earth will heal itself

| Modified 30 Nov, 2015 | Views 826

In Earth's most recent glacial melting, 15,000 years ago, the sea level rose by one centimetre a year for 10,000 years - and then abruptly stopped. The heat required to produce this melting was 10 times the total energy consumption of all human civilization.


Please remain calm: The Earth will heal itself

Stanford University physicist Robert Laughlin says governments - and people generally - should proceed with more humility in dealing with climate change. The Earth, he says, is very old and has suffered grievously: volcanic explosions, floods, meteor impacts, mountain formation "and all manner of other abuses greater than anything people could inflict." Yet, the Earth is still here. "It's a survivor."

Relax, Prof. Laughlin advises. Let it be. "The geologic record suggests that climate ought not to concern us too much when we gaze into the future," he says, "not because it's unimportant but because it's beyond our power to control." Whatever humans throw at it, in other words, Earth will fix things in its own time and its own way.

The rain that has fallen since the beginning of the Industrial Age measures 200 metres. The rain that has fallen since the age of dinosaurs would fill Earth's oceans 20,000 times. The rain that has fallen since oxygen formed would fill the entire world 100 times.

Yet, the amount of water in Earth's oceans hasn't changed significantly in all of this time. In Earth's most recent glacial melting, 15,000 years ago, the sea level rose by one centimetre a year for 10,000 years - and then abruptly stopped. The heat required to produce this melting was 10 times the total energy consumption of all human civilization.



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