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Researchers link massive atmospheric carbon injection to end-Triassic mass extinction

Researchers in the Netherlands have linked massive carbon injections in the atmosphere to the end-Triassic mass extinction (ETME, ~201.4 million years ago), which was marked by terrestrial ecosystem turnover and up to a ~50% loss in marine biodiversity.

In a paper published in the journal Science, they present compound-specific carbon-isotope data of long-chain n-alkanes derived from waxes of land plants, showing a ~8.5 per mil negative excursion, coincident with the extinction interval.

These data indicate strong carbon-13 depletion of the end-Triassic atmosphere, within only 10,000 to 20,000 years. The magnitude and rate of this carbon-cycle disruption can be explained by the injection of at least ~12 × 103 gigatons of isotopically depleted carbon as methane into the atmosphere. Concurrent vegetation changes reflect strong warming and an enhanced hydrological cycle. Hence, end-Triassic events are robustly linked to methane-derived massive carbon release and associated climate change.

...The ETME interval, with rapid and large-scale carbon release, may be regarded as a natural deeptime analog to today’s anthropogenic carbon emissions. Cumulative anthropogenic carbon release of >5000 Gt likely will enhance greenhouse warming by several degrees and substantially lower oceanic pH values. Earth’s biosphere also is projected to experience major disruption of ecosystems, with associated loss of biodiversity. A direct link between massive carbon release and the ETME suggests that modern-day ecosystems could experience a further loss in biodiversity, not only by habitat reduction but also by carbon release–driven rapid climate changes.

—Ruhl et al.


  • Micha Ruhl, Nina R. Bonis, Gert-Jan Reichart, Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté, and Wolfram M. Kürschner (2011) Atmospheric Carbon Injection Linked to End-Triassic Mass Extinction. Science 333 (6041), 430-434 doi: 10.1126/science.1204255



Eeek. More evidence of natural variation!!!




Eeek. More evidence that a massive release of carbon into the atmosphere is a huge risk!!!


Yes Anne. And it is accepted science that human activity contributes about 3% additional CO2 to our atmosphere. Paleo-geologic events like the the Tri-J extinction are thought to be triggered by far larger, far more energetic action than any man can provide.

"The Tr-J coincided with massive volcanism associated with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean (13–15), which led to a four-fold increase in atmospheric CO2 levels (16) and a consequent rise in global temperatures of between 3 and 6 °C (16–18)."

Other events like PETM are thought to have been triggered by meteorite impact or tectonic shifts. And we know the Devonian featured CO2 levels as high as 1300ppm - while the first forests and plant life flourished.

All of which indicates that geological time lines are interrupted by thousands of climate effecting events - none of which are caused by man.

Do we need to stop burning fossil fuel? Yes. For reasons far more pragmatic than AGW. Combustion is an outdated method of energy production. We know how to make abundant sustainable energy without "burning" stuff and we are on our way to doing that. Which is a positive step forward for mankind.

richard schumacher

So you agree that we must give up fossil fuels, but only for the proper reasons? and only after we drown the world's coastal cities, destroy our existing agricultural regions, and create a billion refugees? Yes, that certainly does sound like a positive step forward for mankind. Thanks for sharing.



And it is accepted science that human activity contributes about 3% additional CO2 to our atmosphere

That is not accepted science at all. You are lying.

Pre-industrial was 280 ppm, now it is 390 ppm. Human emissions have caused an increase of 110 ppm, or 40% of atmospheric CO2. So you claim that 3.5 ppm was due to human emissions and 106.5 ppm due to.... what exactly? You don't mention it, but it's not hard to guess it must be the magical 'natural variations'.

Three questions to you:

1. If the 106.5 ppm rise has nothing to do with us digging up and burning many gigatons of fossil fuels, then explain what happened to all that CO2 that was released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the 18th century?
2. What the natural source for the 106.5 ppm increase? (And provide the data to prove it actually happened).
3. If the many gigatons of CO2 from fossil fuels were somehow absorbed by some carbon sink, then please explain how this sink did not absorb the CO2 from the magical 'natural source'. I.E. how can it tell the different CO2 molecules apart?

Answer the 3 questions and people might believe you.


Alarmists: what difference, aside pride is the reason to amend energy use? Be it economy, security, global employment, or ecology - the goal remains the same. The Energy Independent campaign gathers political left and right in its appeal and thus is far more effective in ending fossil use.

Richard, alarmist claptrap is no longer germane. It's old school AGW.

Anne, when you have the civility to not accuse those who disagree with you of "lying" - you will earn an answer.

Meanwhile, Energy Independence is here. And...

Resistance is futile.


When you have the civility not to lie, people will stop accusing you of lying.


We seemed doomed to repeat the brainwashed purchasing of gas guzzlers that the dinosaurs perfected near the end of the Triassic.

Have we learned nothing in the last 201.4 million years?

Yes, we've learned that;
- to have any effect, more than 80% of the world must make MAJOR reductions in carbon release, and

- there is almost NO chance that more than a small percentage will make even respectable reductions

- then wise up and work for energy independence.


EP - you are aware of studies showing early Holocene CO2 content at levels as high as 348ppm (higher with error.) [Wagner, F., Bohncke, S.J.P.,Science 284] And more studies (including cited above) confirming vast emission of CO2 from hundreds of thousands of terrestrial and marine subducted volcanic vents. The 42ppm difference (390-348ppm) is about 10% current CO2. Human activity possibly accounts for 30% of that difference, or about 12ppm, which is 3% current CO2.

It's also helpful to review visually just how trace, this alarming trace gas is:



You are talking about the early Holocene. That spike lasted only 500 years. Over the next 10000 years up to the 18th century, it was a near constant 270 ppm. So the starting point is not 348 ppm, but 270 ppm. You know that and that's why I have the courtesy of calling you what you are: a liar.

How pitiful that you have to resort to one of the most debunked denier talking points floating around: that volcanoes are responsible for the rise in CO2. They are not.

Even Willis Eschenbach at wattsupwiththat has conceded that your position is utterly undefendable. You are fighting a lost battle, alone.

Quote from the article:
As I said, I think that the preponderance of evidence shows that humans are the main cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2.



If you think the 'trace gas' incantation is going to save you, you must be really panicking.

Might I suggest you inhale a trace of sarin and report back to us on the negligible effect that had on your health...


Er, what caused the pre-19th century CO2 levels of 348ppm? Elves?

Alarmists need to read and internalize THIS fact:

As we have said MANY times... There is HOPE. It is with the successful and growing Energy Independence campaign. IF you really care about environment (not Marxian theory) you will support the most immediate way to end fossil fuel use; replaced by a sustainable portfolio of alternatives. The transition to electrified transport is just the beginning.

Energy Independence.

Resistance is futile.


Er, what caused the pre-19th century CO2 levels of 348ppm? Elves?

Well howabout melting ice and warming oceans releasing their stored gases? It was the end of the last Ice Age afterall. And the earliest period of the Holocene WAS called the "Preboreal" which means the huge carbon sink of the great northern forests was not yet up to speed.

Of course that's just pure speculation on my part.



Er, what caused the pre-19th century CO2 levels of 348ppm? Elves?

You have nothing more to say, but you keep talking.

The subject is the cause of the current rise in CO2. Your attempt to divert attention to what happened 10000 years ago is in fact an admission that humans are indeed the main cause of the current rise in CO2 levels. Yay, we're making progress!

Wether Cancun failed or Kyoto is on 'life support' does not change one iota or tittle of the science. The laws of nature are not up to vote. Good luck with you wishful thinking. Climate change is not a bad dream that will go away.


We have now established the early Holocene reflecting CO2 content higher than alarmists acknowledge – Yay! Let`s look at the Mid-Holocene and see what relationship between CO2 and temperature existed across the 7000-5000 year time line.

During this time we know the average global land temperatures cooled. [Steig, E.J. Science 1999.] Simultaneously the concentration of CO2 INCREASED a little over 10ppm (about the same caused by humans today.) For 2000 years!! Raising the awkward specter of CO2 jettisoned from the temperature driver seat. Arghhh.

Of course none of this changes the fact that governments, politicians, citizens et al, have soundly rejected the climate campaign. But are climbing on board the Energy Independence campaign at a steady pace. All are welcome aboard.


Reel$$ (and the majority in USA) would reduce GHG emissions ONLY IF it gives USA Energy Independence, i.e. by building 500+ new coal fired dirty power plants and 220+M electrified vehicles. The NET reduction in GHG would be minute but using local coal instead of imported crude oil would give USA the desired energy independence.

Isn't that the best of both worlds?


Isn't it ironic how Reel will preform the most complex mental gymnastics to defend his position but simplifies the science of global warming to 'CO2's in the driver's seat'? That is, when he's not out and out lying.


Harvey - not true a majority wants to replace foreign oil with coal-fired electric plants. The goal IS to end the use of fossil fuels. But expect to see a transitional period where NG combined cycle replaces coal in newer power plants with longevity. Independence from foreign AND domestic fossil fuels.

ai - indeed I have simplified the "science" of global warming in order to demonstrate how little a role man-made CO2 plays. Latest satellite data show clearly IPCC climate models vastly overestimate the heat retention/feedback characteristic of atmospheric CO2. Thus further reducing the "science" of global warming to a dated theory based on a crumbling foundation.

Also note the recent NASA paper on overestimated warming of East Antarctica. Where 90% Earth's ice resides:

Shall we call the IPCC and sycophant scientists liars too?


Try telling Steller's Sea Cow, the Dodo, the Great Auk, the Passenger Pigeon and hundreds of others how little of a role man plays in nature. And as for CO2: It took nature 300 million years to build up the fossil fuel reserves we use today and it's taken man only 200 years to put half of that carbon back into the air.


I'm still wondering who pays Reel for his propaganda; I'm leaning toward the coal industry. That he's a paid propagandist is based on several lines of evidence:

  • It's obvious that he doesn't have a regular job. He posts during regular working hours. (So do I, but I do contract work and have free time between them.)
  • He denies CO2 is a problem (either through AGW or oceanic acidification), using the most transparently dishonest supporting arguments/sites.
  • He has recently touted both Rossi's E-Cat (fraud) and the Blacklight "hydrino" scam, both of which are the alleged answer to nuclear fission... which is the major competition for coal.
  • He won't take me up on my bet that Rossi is a fraud, which any real believer in Rossi ought to have jumped at.
Pretty good case, if you ask me.


Ah!! Defeated alarmists last resort... Ad hominem attack. Defeated by the unveiling of your own corrupt "science." Nice. The glow of victory is warm and bright!

EP, first you claim Reel works for "the coal industry." Then you claim he's touting "the major competition for coal..." These statements in black and white are convincing evidence of deep confusion, cognitive dissonance, and an emergent psycho tic break.

They will haunt you. You are learning that "Resistance is futile."

BTW, the LANR-CF technology threatens only those without vision to make use of it. It will bring heat, light, and fresh water to millions in need.


Why are you all so sure that Rossi´s E-Cat experiment is a fraud or not ? Any new developments ?


The best summary I've seen so far is Ugo Bardi's recent post, "The E-Cat loses steam".


Reel, if you think I'm crazy, you've got an easy way to make beaucoup bucks from it. Take me up on my bet.

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