September 19, 2006

Extinction By Fart

Recent research suggests that only one of the 5 major mass extinctions was caused by meteor impact. The rest were more likely caused by deep-sea anaerobic bacteria:

In their models, if the deepwater H2S concentrations were to increase beyond a critical threshold during such an interval of oceanic anoxia, then the chemocline separating the H2S-rich deepwater from oxygenated surface water could have floated up to the top abruptly. The horrific result would be great bubbles of toxic H2S gas erupting into the atmosphere.

Warm things up a bit via volcanic sourced high CO2 and you create the making of massive bacterial farts of deadly gas.

The author of the article says that conditions for these bubbly killers occur in a massive scale when CO2 levels reach around 1000 parts per million. Current levels are at 385 and rising 2-3 ppm per year. Assuming the rate of increase does not go above 3 ppm/year then expect next mass extinctions to begin in at most 200 years.

Yep, your great-great grand children might be around, briefly, to see it.

Posted by Steve on September 19, 2006
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