Okay, maybe it wasn’t the Garden of Eden, but it was a lush, warm tropical habitat in the long ago time with a really, really big snake — Titanoboa.
You have to love a peer-reviewed climate science article in Nature titled, “Giant boid snake from the Palaeocene neotropics reveals hotter past equatorial temperatures,” (subs. req’d, abtract below). Nature News explains the article’s relevance:
Using models based on the largest modern-day snakes and their estimate of the Titanoboa‘s size, the team calculated how hot the tropics must have been 58 to 60 million years ago, a period known as the Palaeocene. The mean annual temperature would need to be at least 30-34 degrees Celsius to support the snake’s metabolism, the researchers report in Nature. This range matches previous estimates from Palaeocene climate models that assume high atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.
The results support the idea that the temperature difference between the Palaeocene tropics and higher-latitude regions was as large as it is today, even though the higher latitudes were much warmer during that time. This counters the so-called ‘thermostat’ hypothesis, which predicts that tropical temperatures would stay fairly stable even as other parts of the world heated up.
This “thermostat hypothesis” is a pet theory of famed denier Dr. Richard Lindzen, but like many small, defenseless pets, it was no match for a big snake, especially one estimated to have a “body length of 13 m and a mass of 1,135 kg.” A general debunking of Lindzen’s popular disinformation tracts can be found on RealClimate here.
If the world lets the sweet talk of denial and delay from the Lindzens of the world persuade us for another decade or so, then, like the snake’s seduction of Eve, we will lose our Garden of Eden — the miraculously narrow temperature window and livable climate that gave us modern human civilization — for 1,000 years or more.
The paper also sheds some light on the catastrophic greenhouse gas release of the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM):