1 Billion years ago

Cyanobacteria absorb carbon dioxide and add oxygen to atmosphere






Longer and larger cycles of warming and cooling swing between a frozen planet and a warm Earth.  Land plants have yet to evolve.  Carbon dioxide levels are several times higher than currently, feeding an ocean soup of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae.  The sky is empty.  Ocean algae slowly absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen that gradually changes the atmosphere, bringing temperatures down.  As they die, their organic bodies drift down in shallow seas, creating large reservoirs of carbon.


These reservoirs of oil and gas, we now dig up, pump into our cars, and burn, releasing carbon into the atmosphere, which has been dormant for hundreds of millions of years.

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Rodinia with approximate location of constituent continents

Adapted from Adapted from: Chao Liu/EarthByte
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7.8 billion

2020 Population

415 parts per million

2020 CO2 concentration

14.9° C

2020 Average Temperature

22 cm above level in 1900

2020 Sea Level

End of 'Snowball Earth' period of extreme climate cycles

Cambrian Explosion of multi-cellular organisms

Ordovian Extinction

Devonian Extinction

Permian Extinction

Pangea Rifting

Triassic Extinction

Temperature high ~ 27°C

Sea Level high ~ 120 meters

Millions of Years


Image: Photo by author.  Photo of cosmos credit: Astrobackyard.com

Map: Blakey, R. "Global Paleogeography and Tectonics in Deep Time Series." 2019 https://deeptimemaps.com

Carnegie Science. (2015). "One of the Supercontinents is different from the others (It’s Rodinia)."   Retrieved 23 September 2018, 2018, from https://carnegiescience.edu/news/one-supercontinents-different-others-it%E2%80%99s-rodinia.

CO2: Rothman, D. H. (2002). "Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels for the last 500 million years." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 99  (7): 4167–4171. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11460400_Atmospheric_carbon_dioxide_levels_for_the_last_500_million_years

Temperature: Zachos, J. P., M.; Sloan, L.; Thomas, E.; Billups, K. (2001). "Trends, rhythms, and aberrations in global climate 65 Ma to present." Science 292(5517): 686-693.https://science.sciencemag.org/content/292/5517/686.full Chart also available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_temperature_record

Temperature and Sea Level: James Hansen, M. S., Gary Russell, Pushker Kharecha (2013). "Climate sensitivity, sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences 371(20120294). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3785813/

Sea Level: Miller, K. G., M. A. Kominz, J. V. Browning, J. D. Wright, G. S. Mountain, M. E. Katz, P. J. Sugarman, B. S. Cramer, N. Christie-Blick and S. F. Peka (2005). "The Phanerozoic Record of Global Sea-Level Change." Science 310(5752): 1293-1298. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7458328_The_Phanerozoic_Record_of_Global_Sea-Level_Change

Contact:  readg@fiu.edu
© Gray Read