Back To The Eocene?

eocene_rainforest2

From Anthropocene To Eocene II?

A mountainside near where I live gave way in January 2009 (as a result of torrential rains) resulting in Racehorse Creek rock slide.

This landslide revealed a treasure-trove of fossils, mainly 55-million-year old fossils of plants that were alive during the Eocene. Most interestingly, perhaps, this time corresponds to to a period called the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which is characterized by a rapid (about 20,000 years) increase in atmospheric CO2 (primarily of volcanic origin) and global warming.

On a recent trip to the Racehorse fossil field, I couldn’t help thinking that not only was I revisiting the Eocene but also maybe getting a glimpse of what the predominant plant life may look like here in the Pacific northwest in a few thousands of years.

Do these Eocene plant fossils provide clues to the ultimate botanical outcomes of the Anthropocene?

Related Links:

  • The BBC view of the Eocene
  • Could human CO2 emissions cause another PETM?
  • The Emerald Planet
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