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Saw a fascinating documentary last night on the Sahara. It seems that it has gone through cycles of being a lush, tropical jungle followed by (as it is today) being a lifeless, arid desert. It has happened repeatedly over several thousand year cycles, perhaps matching with the tilt if the earth's axis or other phenomena, including atmospheric "pollution" due to volcanic activity or perhaps other causes.

The interesting part is that the transition from one state to the other, based on the readings from earth cores from the area, seems to have taken less than 200 years. According to the scientists interviewed, the changes were readily apparent within one century, and complete by two.

Imagine an are the size of the United States turned from a verdant, forested state into lifeless desert within 200 years.

(This also helps explain the abundance of oil, where forest and animal detritus litters the ground for several thousands of years, then is quickly covered over by blowing sands, then thousand of years later covered again by greenery. Repeat, endlessly, and you wind up with the perfect conditions for the production of crude.)

Climate change: it isn't for sissies.
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