By Parnell McCarter


Mainstream modern science is presuppositionally devoted to the evolutionary model.  As a result, scientists interpret the data within an evolutionary, un-Biblical framework.  This erroneous framework means that in various important respects scientists err in their attribution of a given event or condition to a certain geological age.  But even with this flaw, the data and some of the findings of these scientists are of immense value to young earth creationist Christians.  This is especially true in seeking to derive an atmospheric history of the earth within a Biblical framework.  With that insight in mind, let’s consider the following information from various websites:



The Buteyko technique represents a development of the hyperventilation syndrome theory. This theory is based on the contemporary understanding of the immense biological role of carbon dioxide gas in the human organism. The human metabolism developed in the ancient geological eras when carbon dioxide in the air and water measured in tens of percent. It is probably due to this factor that a definite concentration of carbon dioxide gas (approximately 7%) must be an absolutely essential condition of each human cell in order for it to sustain all the normal pathways of the biochemical processes.  The problem faced by the evolving human organism has been the depletion of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere from the tens of percent of ancient eras to the current level (1982) of 0.03% [1996 of 0.035%].



But the experts who peer back millions of years, though they may debate what their work means, do agree on the relevance of their findings. They also agree that the eon known as the Phanerozoic, a lengthy span from the present to 550 million years ago, the dawn of complex life, typically bore concentrations of carbon dioxide that were up to 18 times the levels present in the short reign of Homo sapiens.
 The carbon dioxide, the scientists agree, came from volcanoes and other natural sources, as on Mars and Venus. The levels have generally dropped over the ages, as the carbon became a building block of many rock formations and all living things.  Moreover, the opponents tend to agree on why the early Earth’s high carbon dioxide levels failed to roast the planet. First, the Sun was dimmer in its youth. Second, as the gas concentrations increase, its heat trapping capacity slows and reaches a plateau.




Since of the Earth's atmosphere is out-of-balance with the conditions expected from simple chemical equilibrium, it is very hard to say what precisely sets the level of the carbon dioxide content in the air throughout geologic time. While scientists are fairly certain that a 100 million years ago carbon dioxide values were many times higher than now, the exact value is in doubt. In very general terms, long-term reconstructions of atmospheric CO2 levels going back in time show that 500 million years ago atmospheric CO2 was some 20 times higher than present values. It dropped, then rose again some 200 million years ago to 4-5 times present levels--a period that saw the rise of giant fern forests--and then continued a slow decline until recent pre-industrial time.  Most scientists agree that carbon dioxide has decreased over the last 200 million years because of speeding up of the passage of carbon atoms from their volcanic sources into sediments. As we learned in the last section, to lower the CO2 content one needs fresh rocks to provide calcium, and it also helps to bury organic matter.  Fresh rocks are provided through plate collisions and mountain building, that is, uplift of land and a drop in sea level. On the whole, there has been a trend to make more mountains during the last 100 million years, and especially since the last 40 million years. This is seen in the strontium isotope content of marine carbonates. The type of strontium derived from igneous rocks on land has increased relative to the type of strontium from other sources. Organic matter is buried in swamps (plant remains turn into coal) and in continental margins (marine algal remains become hydrocarbons). The climate cooled as the planet acquired mountain ranges (like the Himalayas) and as sea level dropped. Trade winds became more vigorous. Coastal upwelling of nutrients in coastal waters increased. Thus, more organic matter was buried along the coasts of continents. Also, an increase in the amount of mud from the rising mountains helped to bury the organic matter.   As time went on carbon dioxide was more readily turned into sedimentary carbon and the planet cooled some more. Methane hydrate could have formed on the sea floor, trapping methane and denying another source of carbon to the ocean-atmosphere system. (The exception might perhaps have been during sporadic release of this methane, followed by strange jumps in climate.)




PHILADELPHIA – The rise of the Appalachian Mountains may have caused a major ice age approximately 450 million years ago, an Ohio State University study has found.  The weathering of the mountains pulled carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, causing the opposite of a greenhouse effect -- an "icehouse" effect. Scientists have suspected that our current ice age, which began 40 million years ago, was caused by the rise of the Himalayas. This new study links a much earlier major ice age --one that occurred during the Ordovician period -- to the uplift of the early Appalachians .

It also reinforces the notion that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are a major driver of Earth's climate.  Seth Young, a doctoral student in earth sciences at Ohio State, reported the new study October 25 at the Geological Society of America meeting in Philadelphia.  Because we are currently living in an ice age -- or, more precisely, in a slightly warmer interglacial period within an ice age -- CO2 levels worldwide would ordinarily be low; but scientists believe that humans have raised CO2 levels by burning fossil fuels…"In this study, we're seeing remarkable evidence that suggests atmospheric CO2 levels were in fact dropping at the same time that the planet was getting colder. So this significantly reinforces the idea that CO2 is a major driver of climate," Saltzman said.




During what geologists call "oceanic anoxic events," it has long been suggested that a large amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere by millions of microscopic organisms that dwell in the oceans.  They do this by trapping carbon in their bodies. When they die, their bodies rain down to the ocean depths and are buried by sediment, locking away the trapped carbon from the atmosphere for million of years….




Carbon dioxide is a necessary nutrient that plants depend upon. Carbon Dioxide levels many times higher than current levels on earth improve plant growth and vitality. A significant portion of the increased farming productivity observed during the last 50 years may not be due to pestisides or improved techniques, but to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (Sherwood B. Idso, Bruce A. Kimball, "Tree Growth in Carbon Dioxide Enriched Air and Its Implications for Global Carbon Cycling and Maximum Levels of Atmospheric CO2," Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 7(1993):3:537-555, p. 537-5380)




The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been monitored for over forty years. These measurements show that the carbon dioxide levels have increased every year. Carbon dioxide is known to be a greenhouse gas, which means that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could lead to global warming. This could have serious environmental consequences for the entire world.




Mauna Loa is a mountain on the island of Hawaii. The data collected at Mauna Loa has demonstrated conclusively that the amount of carbon-dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is rising rapidly. Carbon dioxide is an invisible gas that is harmless to humans. In fact, we breathe out carbon dioxide every time we breath. Both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are produced by burning fossil fuels (gas, coal,and oil).  The Mauna Loa carbon dioxide data set is the largest continuous record, 35 years, in existence of atmospheric carbon-dioxide. Unfortunately, this is still a very short time on the scale that climate is often studied, which can span thousands of years. One of the most arresting facts about the data is how fast the levels of CO2 is climbing. The speed or rate of change (about 1.2 ppm per year) is widely believed to unparalleled in the history of the earth.



US climate scientists have recorded a significant rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, pushing it to a new record level.  BBC News has learned the latest data shows CO2 levels now stand at 381 parts per million (ppm) - 100ppm above the pre-industrial average.  The research indicates that 2005 saw one of the largest increases on record - a rise of 2.6ppm.  The figures are seen as a benchmark for climate scientists around the globe.  The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has been analysing samples of air taken from all over the world, including America's Rocky Mountains.  The chief carbon dioxide analyst for Noaa says the latest data confirms a worrying trend that recent years have, on average, recorded double the rate of increase from just 30 years ago.  "We don't see any sign of a decrease; in fact, we're seeing the opposite, the rate of increase is accelerating," Dr Pieter Tans told the BBC.  The precise level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is of global concern because climate scientists fear certain thresholds may be "tipping points" that trigger sudden changes.


With the above information in mind, combined with Biblical data, we can form a hypothesis concerning the atmospheric history of the earth.


First, let’s posit the chronology of earth history.  Conservative Christian scholars have long recognized that the world was created some time around 4000 BC, based upon the Biblical data.  For reasons explained in various resources at www.puritans.net , I have guessed that the year of creation was 3967 BC, making 2033 AD the beginning of the “seventh day” millennium (3967 BC + 6000 years = 2033 AD).  This would mean the Noahic Flood was sometime around 2400 BC, the age of the Patriarchs around 2000 BC, and the Hebrew Exodus around 1400 BC.  Also we know from scripture that in the ante-diluvian age mankind was blessed with great longevity, but this longevity progressively decreased in the period from the Flood to the Exodus.


Now combining the scriptural data with the natural data, we begin to see a picture of the atmospheric history of the earth.  From Creation to the Flood, the earth seems to have had much higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide than presently.  The earth during this time would have been like a greenhouse.  Since man was created to thrive in such a higher carbon dioxide atmosphere, it is not surprising he enjoyed higher longevity. And there was greater farming productivity. But between the Flood and the Exodus carbon dioxide levels rapidly fell, and the earth went from being a greenhouse to an icehouse.  Human longevity consequently decreased in this period.  From the Exodus to the present time the earth has remained in this icehouse period and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have remained relatively low, though there were undoubtedly some fluctuations within the overall trend.  Under these conditions of low atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, people have struggled with various and sundry debilitating physical conditions, such as the one noted at http://www.puritans.net/news/asthma2081807.htm .


Isaiah 65:20-23 provides insights into what the coming millennium will be like: “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner [being] an hundred years old shall be accursed.  And they shall build houses, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.  They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree [are] the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they [are] the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.”


The very fact that atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature levels are rising may be an anticipatory sign of the coming millennium, when the earth and God’s elect will enjoy great blessing.  But those who oppose God will increasingly feel the heat: “men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (Revelation 16:9).  During the millennium itself it is reasonable to believe the earth would again enjoy high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and greenhouse conditions.


This scenario would at least be my best guess of the atmospheric history of the earth.