Gizmodo goes fuller retard… on the geologic time scale – Watts Up With That?

Gizmodo goes fuller retard… on the geologic time scale – Watts Up With That?

Guest “You never always go full retard” by David Middleton

7 Epic Epochs of Earth, Ranked


1. Pleistocene, 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago

The very best time on Earth. Extremely recent as far as geologic time goes, the Pleistocene was momentous. It’s also the last chapter in which Earth’s climate was untarnished by human changes.


Isaac Schultz

Science writer at Gizmodo, previously of Atlas Obscura. A native New Yorker. Mostly covering ancient things (on Earth and beyond) and masses extremely big or incredibly small.


The author has a 2018 bachelors degree in religious studies and a 2019 MS in journalism. In his mind, he never actually lived in the Holocene, perhaps explaining its absence from his list. Very little in the article was worth quoting.

Isaac Schultz’s 7 Epic Epochs of Earth, Ranked…

7. Late Permian, 260 million to 251 million years ago… This epoch certainly ended with the worst time for life on Earth.

6. Anthropocene : Not an epoch, not an actual geological time period of any kind.

5. Eocene, 56 million to 34 million years ago… He got one right! The Eocene Epoch is actually an epoch. He ranks it below the Pleistocene because, “the Eocene ranks lower than the Pleistocene for sheer lack of woolly mammoths and Neanderthals.”

4. Paleoarchean, 3.6 billion to 3.2 billion years ago… He does note that this is “technically not an epoch,”… It’s an erathem/era… A time period equivalent to the Paleozoic, Mesozoic or Cenozoic.

3. Late Cretaceous, 100 million to 66 million years ago… Isaac seems to have a penchant for mass extinctions.

2. Early Cambrian, 541 million to 510 million years ago… Actually two epochs (series), the Terreneuvian and “Series 2.” The Cambrian Explosion would certainly have been an interesting time period.

And now for Isaac Schultz’s favorite geological epoch…

Coming in a #1… Drum roll, please… The Pleistocene Epoch, 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago… This explains the point to which the Climatariat would like to reverse climate change.

The very best time on Earth. Extremely recent as far as geologic time goes, the Pleistocene was momentous. It’s also the last chapter in which Earth’s climate was untarnished by human changes. Modern humans were around then, though, and we were busy interbreeding with Neanderthals and the Denisovans. The Pleistocene saw the first art, and, perhaps most importantly, woolly mammoths and adorably armored glyptodonts bopped around the cooler stretches of the planet. There were also cave bears, marsupial saber-toothed tigers, and giant ground sloths. At one point, the recent northern glaciers reached as far south as Manhattan. The Pleistocene is a fascinating liminal space between our recorded history and deep time, one that holds many clues to how humans ended up the way we are today.


Which do you think Isaac hates more? People or capitalism? While it’s nearly impossible to determine the average human life span during the Pleistocene Epoch, the vast majority of fossilized modern humans appear to have died in the range of 20-40 years old (Trinkaus, 2011). If we returned to the Pleistocene, this would be the norm:

“The very best time on Earth.” Science News March 1, 1975

This is how he described the nonexistent Anthropocene:

So here’s where things went wrong. A single species managed to heat and pollute the globe and cause mass extinction

Of course a fake mass extinction fits right into a fake epoch.

However, he loves the Eocene…

Great times. Basically the prequel to the Pleistocene in terms of mammalian domination, the Eocene was the middle epoch of the Paleogene, which came on the heels of asteroid impact that did away with nearly all dinosaurs. 

David Middleton
3a. Marine pCO2 (foram boron δ11B, alkenone δ13C), atmospheric CO2 from plant stomata (green and yellow diamonds with red outlines), Mauna Loa instrumental CO2 (thick red line) and Cenozoic temperature change from benthic foram δ18O (light gray line).
Cenozoic seawater pH from boron isotopes in planktonic foraminifera (modified after Pearson & Palmer, 2000). Note that pH was lower than the PETM 51.5 (EECO) and 59.5 Ma. Note: Older is to the right.  Modern pH data (HOTS, Dore et al., 2009) are posted for comparison.  As with temperatures, the amplitude of the proxy time series on multi-decadal to centennial time-scales should be considered to be the minimum of the true variability on those time-scales, due to the much lower resolution than the instrumental data. Older is towards the right.

Most people who go full retard and babble about the Anthropocene, pine away for the pristine climatic stasis of the Holocene (/SARC). Isaac Schultz goes fuller retard and pines away for the Pleistocene… An epoch in which “pine” trees often had trouble “breathing” (Ward et al., 2005).

For reference, here is the official geologic time scale:


On my usage of the word “retard”

I’ll let comedian Jim Breuer explain the context. If you don’t want to watch the entire hilarious skit, the most relevant part starts at about the five minute mark…


Trinkaus, Erik. Late Pleistocene adult mortality patterns and modern human establishment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Jan 2011, 108 (4) 1267-1271; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1018700108

Ward JK, Harris JM, Cerling TE, Wiedenhoeft A, Lott MJ, Dearing MD, Coltrain JB, Ehleringer JR. Carbon starvation in glacial trees recovered from the La Brea tar pits, southern California. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jan 18;102(3):690-4. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0408315102. Epub 2005 Jan 10. PMID: 15642948; PMCID: PMC544040.

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