Appreciating the immense timescales of climate change and ocean acidification

4 thoughts on “Appreciating the immense timescales of climate change and ocean acidification”

  1. There is a similar article to this post by Mason Inman, “Carbon is forever” in Nature Reports Climate Change (posted on 20 November 2008), available at

    Inman refers to several new articles and a new book by David Archer and other authors that were not noted in this post:

    1. Archer, D. et al. Ann. Rev. Earth Pl. Sc. (in the press).
    2. Archer, D. The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate (Princeton Univ. Press, 2008).
    3. Tyrrell, T., Shepherd, J. G. & Castle, S. Tellus 59, 664–672, doi:10.1111/j.1600-0889.2007.00290.x (2007).
    4. Matthews, H. D. & Caldeira, K. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, L04705, doi:10.1029/2007GL032388 (2008).


  2. A new article discussing the immense timescales of climate change from burning fossil fuels is Solomon et al (2009), “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions” PNAS 116 (6) 1704-1709, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812721106, available (for free download) at

    David Archer has an excellent post on RealClimate about this publication:


  3. I am preparing a conference paper for a group of environmental lawyers and consultants and I was trying to find a simple way of explaining why CO2 emissions will continue to affect the atmosphere for a long time even after CO2 emissions initially leave the atmosphere.

    I thought this was a simple analogy to use:

    “Once coal is burnt and its carbon emitted to the atmosphere the carbon atoms will revolve through different parts of the carbon cycle for centuries and millennia like clothes in a washing machine going around and around.”


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