Clusters of islands poked through hot oceans 3.4 billion years ago, when the world still had no oxygen and the seas churned under a pallid, overcast sky. But life thrived on Earth even then, scientists say — and now they have the world’s oldest fossils to prove it.
There were no plants or algae to photosynthesize and produce oxygen, so microbial life used sulfur for energy and growth, researchers say. Microfossils of these earliest microbes extend the sandstone record of life on Earth by about 300 million years.
Coal-derived emissions pouring from smokestacks across Asia are--perhaps counterintuitively--responsible for a pause in global warming in the decade following 1998, but that's no real reason to celebrate. The halt in rising temperatures is a result of the large amounts of sulfur in those emissions, which can have a cooling effect on the planet.
By Christopher MimsPosted 01.19.2010 at 10:43 am 6 Comments
The International Maritime Organization, which oversees the shipping industry, will begin enforcing rules this July that mandate cleaner fuel to cut air pollution and acid rain. Ironically, this eco-motivated change will undo one of our strongest, if accidental, defenses against climate change.