But who caused the CO2 levels 50 million years ago?

My friend Jerry Hoffmeister posted an article from Scientific American on Facebook:

We Just Breached the 410 PPM Threshold for CO2

Carbon dioxide has not reached this height in millions of years… Right now we’re on track to create a climate unseen in 50 million years by mid-century.

This is quite terrifying, if you understand what it implies.

One of Jerry’s friends is an outspoken conservative, and a lawyer. This man is deeply convicted of his beliefs, but rather than debate issues on their merit he tries to play little ‘gotcha’ word games. …dammit, Jerry, I’m a lawyer, not a scientist! In response to this article, Jerry’s friend posted this question:

“Really? It was at this level 50 million years ago? Well, who caused it then?”

Obviously, this is an important question. Here is my response [1]:

Timothy, the answer is that our ancestors did. 70 Ma (million years ago) a relatively unknown multituberculate mammal named Shprang Potober hatched a plot to reduce global temperatures. Shprang was well aware that lowering the temperatures would make it easier for mammals to compete with the dinosaurs. About 4 million years later, as Shprang’s offspring evolved into rodents, that plot came to fruition, and the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event eradicated about half of all animal species, making room for the mammals to dominate the world.

However, as they died, the dinosaurs (led by the velociraptors, specifically Hans the Great Velociraptor) came up with a plot for revenge. First, they froze a cache of fertile eggs far to the North, under a newly growing ice shelf. Then, one by one, all the dinosaurs buried themselves, along with their biome, deep under the earth. Because in addition to being a compassionate leader, Hans the Great Velociraptor was a brilliant scientist. He knew that in approximately 40 million years the compression forces would have converted their biomass into an energy-rich fuel source. He bet everything that the rodents which were springing into existence as the dinosaurs died out would forget about the Plan of Shprang Potober. Hans predicted the rodents would be unable to resist burning that fuel, returning the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and reversing the cooling effects.

As we now know, Hans had overestimated his opposition. It took approximatley 10 million years longer for the rodents to discover the fuel source than predicted, so it took longer for his plan to come to fruition. However, the secret cache of dinosaurs will be released soon.. released to mop up the remnants of Sphrang’s rodent offspring in a tempest of teeth and blood.

Does that answer your question?

Footnote 1: I did not intend to make this a blog post, but when I read it to my wife, she insisted. Hope others enjoy it.

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