January 10, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Climate change: then and now

Two recent news items offer divergent views on a perpetual controversy: climate change. First, there was a news item about a geological discovery that might explain the mass extinctions that took place in North America 12,900 years ago, as the Woolly mammoths and Saber-toothed tigers vanished from the face of the earth. The human race also suffered, as the prehistoric "Clovis people" disappeared. Scientists now believe that a massive comet or meteor struck North America at that time, and now they have evidence: tiny crystalline carbon particles called "nanodiamonds" have been found at many sites across the continent, at the same stratum of earth sediment. See the Washington Post

A more recent phenomenon is global warming. Many people fear that melting polar caps are causing the oceans to rise, threatening to cover most of Florida, the Seychelles Islands, Bangladesh, and other low-lying areas. Surprisingly, there has been a rapid rebound in recent months, and global sea ice levels are now the same as they were 29 years ago. This casts doubt on recent predictions that the North Pole ice cap could completely melt away this year. Read the article by Michael Asher at dailytech.com; hat tip to Dan. Cancel the polar bear extinction watch.