Here at Carbon Brief we like to keep abreast of new climate
science, and we enjoy spotting interesting new studies to write
So we were surprised to read in the Mail Online today:
Global warming 'could make us shorter' after horses are found to
have shrunk the LAST time the world heated up. How had we
missed that one?
As it turns out, we hadn't. You can relax - there has been no
major scientific breakthrough linking shrinking humans to climate
Instead, published today was research linking the size of horses
some 55m years ago to climate change, and the Mail article, which
gets a few things slightly wrong.
Let's start with the research: A paper published
in the journal Science today finds that as temperatures rose during
the Palaeo Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) - a period of warming 55m
years ago - horses became smaller. Apparently they started off
about the size of a small dog, and 130,000 years and several
degrees of warming later were roughly the size of a house cat.
The research might have implications for how modern animals may
adapt to a warming planet, but neither the paper nor it's
press release made any mention of any impact on human
So where does the Mail get the idea that:
"Global warming could make us shorter,
It looks like a throwaway joke made by one of the authors of the
study quoted in the Mail Online article may be the culprit.