Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Near Total Wipeout--The Permian Exintiction Event

 ...And how it is something we should worry about now.

There is something to be said for those that can live in a state of blissful ignorance. That type of mindset sure makes existence in a world where change that is barely distinguishable from chaos a lot simpler.  It is actually a monumental effort to wake every morning and believe the world is a static place and that your position in it is ordained by God himself. Excuse me if I sound more than a little flippant, it’s just that such an attitude courses through the veins of all true American patriots these days and they generally call such a mindset “American Exceptionalism.” While there are several different facets to American Exceptionalism, the one I want to bring attention to is the idea that our hyper-consumerist lifestyle based of the widespread use of fossil fuels could actually cause the extinction of all life on Earth.  

That is an extreme claim to be sure. But hold on and hear me out if you can set aside your arthritic state of mind for a few minutes. Yes, I’m going to mention that we have been spewing carbon into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution due to the burning of various type of fossil fuels but my story actually begins 250 million years ago during the onset of the Permian Mass Extinction.

The “Great Dying”, as some in the scientific community call the Permian Mass Extinction resulted in the death of ninety-five percent of all life on the planet at that time, both terrestrial species and those living in the ocean. For years the natural assumption was that the Great Dying was caused by an asteroid or comet impacting the Earth, however given the size and speed of the resulting global extinction event no crater of sufficient size was ever found to corroborate what was known. There is still a possibility that an extraterrestrial impactor was part of the overall global disaster but another, even greater source was the trigger event.

The Siberian Traps is a large region of volcanic rock that was the site of one of the most massive eruptions in the history of the world and it just happens to span the Permian-Triassic boundary. The event, attributed to a plume of lava rising up from the mantle eventually covered seven million square kilometers, over twice the size of Western Europe, and released untold trillions of tons of carbon dioxide into that prehistoric atmosphere. Yes, the initial result was a global cooling but that came from the dust released from the eruptions. Once the dust settled back on land and the oceans all that carbon dioxide was still in the atmosphere, along with the sheer heat from the still raging volcanic events in the Siberian Traps brought on a massive increase in global temperatures due to the greenhouse effect.

With the death of most plant life, due to the preliminary global cooling from the volcanic dust there was nothing to absorb all that excess carbon dioxide. That was bad, but the worst had not even begun to happen and that was the melting of frozen methane that had been trapped in tundra and at the bottom of the ocean.

Current models suggest all it took was a six-degree increase in global temperature to initiate the massive release of frozen methane. It wasn’t long before a feedback loop was created where the release of methane increased temperatures even more, which in turn thawed out even more of the stuff and that raised temperatures again.

The increased carbon dioxide levels during the onset of the Permian Mass Extinction caused the oceans to acidify, which was bad enough. But things went from bad to worse when the frozen methane at the bottom of the ocean was released further altering the natural chemical makeup of the marine environment. This nightmare was not yet over, methane is a super-greenhouse gas and its release into the atmosphere more than doubled the average global temperature at that time.

Now the usual question from the misguided masses that have their heads stuck up their butts is how does all this really ancient history affect me? I’m glad you asked good sir ore madam.

Globally the burning of fossil fuels has already increased CO2 levels to over 400 parts per million. That is an increase that dwarfs all previous natural events, even that of the Siberian Traps. Many simply do not want to comprehend these facts but there is simply no precedent for what we are doing to the atmosphere. The World Bank itself, in no way a fuzzy, bleeding heart tree hugger group has warned that unless the burning of fossil fuels is curtailed the world will see a five-degree increase in global temperatures. The best data we have strongly suggested that the massive thawing and release of frozen methane can start with a six degree increase. This is where your average American, awash in the belief of his or her own magnificence should take note that there is now evidence that methane thawing and release might have already started. 

Now, with the help of satellite imagery, researchers have located four additional craters--and they believe there may be dozens more in the region. That has them calling for an urgent investigation to protect residents living in the area.
"I am sure that there are more craters on Yamal, we just need to search for them... I suppose there could be 20 to 30 craters more," Prof. Vasily Bogoyavlensky, a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute, told The Siberian Times. "It is important not to scare people, but to understand that it is a very serious problem and we must research this." 

Here is a video that gives much better information: 

Also see:

How global warming could turn Siberia into a giant crater Time Bomb


The Bug said...

Pretty scary, isn't it?

And, that's "God HERself," sir :)

Rose L said...

It is all so scary and I am surprised when some people say they do not believe it. I have a nephew who believes it is a government conspiracy to get money from the people!!! He is not my favorite nephew and is a bonehead!!
At the college where I work they teach classes on the issues of our environment today and what will happen without drastic changes. I hope the youth take it all in and work toward changes to salvage the disaster we older generations caused, not meaning to do so of course.

Pixel Peeper said...

It is scary!

Ranch Chimp said...

Pretty good posting on this Bum. I dont think folks realize what we have done in just over a century alone, or realize at times, just how climate sensitive life forms are (including ours) ... I mean ... it isnt too complicated either to see that we are doing some foul stuff, its actually as simply as knowing what would happen to your car engine if you lost water or oil ... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... we've been "exceptional" alright {: ) on that end ... the most exceptional animal on the earth for that matter. The decades long debates have became a total bore, with all the rent-a- scientist's, high dollar ad's and media, etc. What is most remarkable to me listening to some of these folks that deny we are doing damage to earth ... is that they are saying basically, that you can just dump millions of ton's of chem's and toxin's into the atmosphere, water, land's ... and it has no impact on a bloody damn thing, yet o the other hand talking about the damage cigarette smoke can cause ... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... that's weird thinking guy {: ) .

Anywayz, dont know what weather id like in the Carolina's this morning, but Dallas- Forth Worth is covered in ice and snow this morning (last week we had 70's temp's and sunny skies, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh {: ) ... but I have heard folks say that all this cold and snow we been seeing proves global warming is a myth ... which is more nonsense ... this extreme weather in warm or cold month's is EXACTLY what would happen with changing and warming climate. Enough from me guy ....

Marja said...

Great post I hope many people read this. Look at how long this is already a topic of discussion and how little has changed in regards to do things better. I feel especially sorry for our children as the inherit this earth :(

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

It is mind-boggling how many people refuse to believe in the reality of climate change, no matter how many scientists tell them otherwise.