Contributed by William Walter Kay BA LL B ©2019
60-to-50 million years ago (60-50 Ma) Earth’s surface temperatures averaged 10-to-15 degrees Celsius higher than present. Reduced temperature disparities between equatorial and high latitudes meant Tropical Regions were mildly warmer than now; while Polar Regions were qualitatively hotter. Azolla ferns graced lakes near the North Pole. Alligators glid into steamy swamps across Alaskan everglades. Zephyrs fluttered palm leaves aside searing Swedish shores.
In this Eden, ice crystals were rarer than diamonds. Polar caps were ice-free; so too mountain peaks.
Tropical ocean temperatures topped 30 C; warmer than we keep swimming pools. This heat nurtured a plethora of sea-flora; in turn cultivating a fine bounty of fishes. Little wonder that during this time ancestors of whales and dolphins forever forsook dryland.
Terrestrial lifeforms multiplied and diversified. Greenland and Antarctica, blanketed with conifers and deciduous trees, resembled modern Oregon. As for Oregon, its forests consisted of plants similar or identical to those now found in Colombia. As for Colombia, recent paleontological research deep in a coal mine reveal 58 Ma to have been a time of dense high-canopy jungle. Across the planet, forests were thick and grasslands scarce. It wasn’t just the heat; it was the humidity.
Terrestrial environs favoured the nimble, the arboreal and the airborne. Few animals weighed over 10 kilograms. Sprightly Dawn Horses appeared. Standing 1 foot at the shoulder, and equipped with elegant physiques, these leaf-eaters darted through the thickets. Dawn Horses thrived and morphed during these years as did forbearers of deer, sheep, cattle and pigs. Primates wrested themselves from an existential struggle with their evil kin – the rodents.
Ham-headed, jargon-muddled Geology profs defend border-posts at 56 Ma to separate the Paleocene (66-to-56 Ma) and Eocene Epochs (56-to-33.9 Ma). Epochs consist of Ages. The 60-50 Ma Climate Optimum overlays Thanetian (59.2-to-56 Ma) and Ypresian (56-48 Ma) Ages.
Geological periodization is woefully Eurocentric and preoccupied with accessible, easy-to-analyse sea-bed sediments. “Ages” often reflect analyses of coastal cliffs and quarries hiking distances from 19th century European campuses. Modern discoveries and techniques downgrade earlier designations into obsolete provincialisms.
“Thanetian” derives from 1870s excavations on the Ilse of Thanet (UK). Originally said to herald the arrival of calcium-rich plankton, the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) resolved, in 2008, to preserve the designation while conceding it lacked paleontological significance.
“Ypresian” derives from 1840s digs near Ypres, Belgium. In 2007 ICS backdated Ypresian origins 800,000 years; aligning it with double-flagellate plankton’s debut.
Lifeforms co-evolve. Predatory culling sculpts plankton. No phylum holds World Clock status. Geology’s plankton fetish convolutes climate communication. Worse, catastrophists guide the periodizer’s pen.
The unfashionable phrase “climate optimum” refers to periods when warm temperatures and abundant rainfall created conditions more favourable to life than now. Global Warming catastrophists, wary of their implications, shield optimums from public view.
For instance, before climate alarmism’s rise, paleoclimatologists rightly believed a Medieval Climate Optimum prevailed, world-over, from 950 to 1250. Incontrovertible evidence of this optimum resides in historical records. Post-1988 alarmists nefariously imprisoned this optimum into a North Atlantic anomaly.
There is no disputing the 60-50 Ma Climate Optimum’s global reach. Arctic and Antarctic digs into strata corresponding to this era unearth fossils of subtropical biota. Similar excavations in Hess, Germany and Wyoming, USA provide plentiful proof of tropical paradises persisting for millions of years.
Unable to isolate the 60-50 Ma Climate Optimum; alarmists divert attention toward a Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). This canard, which alarmists neurotically keep renaming, allegedly happened sometime between 55.9 and 55.5 Ma and consisted of a conjectured 5 C temperature rise over a 10,000-to-20,000 year span; the warming purportedly lasting 100,000-to-200,000 years.
Alarmists can’t date PETM to within 400,000 years; nor explain the source or timing of its imagined CO2 instigation. As for century-to-century temperature fluctuations during their 20,000-year uptick; alarmists haven’t a plausible pretense of a clue. Toss PETM into the quandary basket.
The real climate story neither begins nor ends with the PETM. Pre-PETM temperatures were already 10 C warmer than present. Post-PETM, temperatures returned to PETM’s peak within a few million years.
Alarmists flout this. Their horror-show is titled “PETM” and PETM is its climactic climax. Their arch-villain – Carbon Isotope Excursion – inflicts PETM by spraying CO2. The epilogue warns that human CO2 emissions exceed those of the Carbon Isotope Excursion – be very afraid.
PETM is a red herring. The relevant fact about 60-50 Ma is not a dubious blip circa 55 Ma; but rather an undisputed 10-million-year run of balmy rain.
Ask not what causes climate optimums; ask what climate optimums cause.
Paleontologists separate fossils which lead down evolutionary dead-ends from fossils which link to lineages leading to contemporary lifeforms. “Eocene” originally referred to rock strata containing the earliest fossilized ancestors of modern species. Eocene means “New Dawn.” This sweltering epoch didn’t spell the End of the World; au contraire, it constitutes the beginning of our modern world.
Fast-forward to 2019. Protestors block traffic. People weep in public. Politicians endure grueling negotiations. Why? Because they dread a 1 C rise. The true tragedy is that current warming will take millennia to revive Eocene glory. We’ll be harvesting barley on Mars by then.
Alarmist single ledger accounting would have us mourn the inundation of a few South Pacific sand dunes while disregarding the blossoming agricultural potential of humongous landmasses across Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia, Siberia and Antarctica.
Adjourn the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change until it’s too hot to grow bananas in Finland.