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According to a study by a researcher at Yale University, carbon dioxide emissions will play a vital role in present-day global warming, just as they had around 55 million years ago.

Mark Pagani, associate professor of geology and geophysics at Yale, who conducted the study said this finding contradicted the position held by many climate-change skeptics that Earth`s climate was resilient to such carbon dioxide emissions.

He suggests that Earth`s temperature would rise substantially with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, that are expected to double around mid-century.

“The last time carbon was emitted to the atmosphere on the scale of what we are doing today, there were winners and losers.

There was ecological devastation, but new species rose from the ashes. Our work provides even more incentive to develop the clean energy sources that can provide for economic growth and development without risking the natural world that is our endowment,” added Ken Caldeira, co-author of the study from the Carnegie Institution`s Department of Global Ecology.

Pagani said that the temperature increase as a result of global warming then, lasted about 170,000 years.

This altered the world`s rainfall patterns, made the oceans acidic, affected plant and animal life in the seas and on land, and spawned the rise of our modern primate ancestors, he said, adding that this event known as Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) heated the planet by about five degrees centigrade.

“For some years, scientists have known that a massive release of carbon into the atmosphere caused the ancient global warming event known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) that began about 55 million years ago. The geologic record shows that the resulting greenhouse effect heated the planet as a whole by about 90 F (50 C), in less than 10,000 years,” said Pagani.

“It is a stunning example of carbon dioxide-induced global warming and stands in contrast to critics who argue that the Earth`s temperature is insensitive to increases in carbon dioxide.

According to this work, if the PETM was caused by the burning of plant material, then climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide is more than 4.50F (2.50C) per carbon dioxide doubling.

And if methane was the culprit, then Earth`s climate must be extremely sensitive to carbon dioxide – increasing, over 100F (5.60C) per carbon dioxide doubling,” he said.

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