One of the most powerful ways to figure out how the Earth will respond to all the carbon dioxide we’re putting into the atmosphere is to look back into the planet’s history. Paleontologists have spent a lot of time trying to understand a time, more than 50 million years ago, when the planet was much hotter than it is today. They’re finding that the news isn’t all bad when you take the long view…Paul Falkowski, a professor at Rutgers University, is also fascinated with this period of Earth history. He notes that the prehistoric hot spell prevented ocean waters at the surface from circulating into the deep. And that’s something he worries could happen again in a sharply warmer world. "That would lead to a major change in the cycling of many elements on the planet, such as nitrogen, sulfur, carbon, and so on," he says.
/ / / Our Once And Future Oceans: Taking Lessons From Earth’s Past