Global Warming Killed 90% of Life on Earth?

By Alan Stewart Carl | Related entries in Environment, Science

Could be true.

Mounting evidence suggests a supervolcano located in modern-day Siberia may have killed 90% of life on Earth by wrecking havoc on the planet’s climate. The event happened 250 million years ago at the end of the Permian era.

The theory is the supervolcano’s magmas intruded on massive coal fields and turned the volcano into the world’s largest carbon burning plant, spewing out 100,000 gigatons of carbon. Reaction with salt deposits may have also shot methyl chloride into the atmosphere, causing the ozone layer to effectively collapse. The volcano remained active for 200,000 years, so the timeframe for this climate destruction remains unclear.

Global warming has been an increasingly popular theory as to what caused the Permian mass extinction. The question is, can our own carbon spewing ways lead to a similarly drastic result? In total, humanity is responsible for the emission of about 8 gigatons of carbon a year. But I’m guessing our planet and climate are quite different from that found 250 million years ago. Nevertheless, the research is fascinating.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 and is filed under Environment, Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Global Warming Killed 90% of Life on Earth?”

  1. Dave Says:

    Instead of looking at the amount of CO2 in gigatons I suggest you look at the percentage it represents of the total atmosphere.

    less than 1/2 of 100th of ONE percent.

  2. Craig White Says:

    great article………..keep it up

  3. Rich Says:

    The way I understand it, there is a basic cause-and-effect problem with the whole “increased CO2 leads to increased global temperature” premise.

    It seems that increased global temperatures happens BEFORE the CO2 levels rise, not after. Thus, increased CO2 levels are the result, not the cause, of global warming.

    Perhaps it was the release of all of the toxins, not the CO2, that was the cause of the end of 90% of life on earth a quarter of a billion years ago?? Maybe it was all of the ash that covered and killed the plant life that all other species depend on – either directly or indirectly – that caused the extinction??

    Interesting research, for sure, but I hope it’s not a bunch of environmentalists trying to pin a past extinction event on “global warming” so they can use it to continue to try to scare the chocolate out of everybody.

  4. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Al Gore should travel to all the volcanoes in the world and get them to sign a cap-and-trade deal before they erupt.

  5. brannigan Says:

    You mean all that warming that happened after Pinatubo erupted? Derrrrrrr….

  6. Jim S Says:

    CO2 increases as part of earlier natural cycles (I do not count the Siberian traps eruption as “natural” in this case.) would be expected if you’re “recovering” from an ice age. That fact makes no difference whatsoever in terms of the science of things such as the kind of massive low level volcanic eruptions of the Siberian traps or our current civilizations habit of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. To be precise, as measured by mass (More pertinent to the issue than measuring by volume, which would make it 0.0385%) CO2 currently makes up 0.0582% of the atmosphere. But…in chemistry it doesn’t take huge amounts of a material to produce an effect. Look at recommended limits on toxic materials like mercury or lead. How many chemicals have the acceptable exposures measured in parts per million? Many of them. Arguments relying on low percentages of CO2 in the atmosphere, especially percentage by volume aren’t really very strong.

    It’s unlikely that our current actions will lead to something as massive as the increase caused by those massive ancient eruptions. But that doesn’t mean that what is going on doesn’t have the potential to disrupt the climate enough to do serious damage to our civilization. One reason atmospheric temperatures haven’t increased more than they have is the ocean taking in both the heat and the CO2. There are some preliminary indications that its ability to both is nearly maxed out. And oceanic absorption isn’t without problems without maxing out. Much of the CO2 that goes into the ocean contributes to increasing its acidity which isn’t good for the ecology that supports the kinds of sea life that we love to eat and is a major part of the diet of a huge part of the human race. It goes on and on but I’ll stop there for now.

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