About 250 million year ago, during the late Permian the world’s oceans stagnated causing a huge and lethal build up of hydrogen sulphide produced by anaerobic bacteria. Up to 95 percent of marine species and 85 percent of those on the land went extinct.
At least that is the view of Peter Ward writing in last week’s issue of New Scientist (Precambian strikes back, February 9, 2008)
The oceans stagnated because global warming from massive emissions of greenhouse gases from sustained volcanic eruptions warmed the high latitudes more than the equator, slowing the ocean currents.
A reader of this weblog, Dr Steve Short, recommends everyone read the article:
“This subject is not only close to my personal interests (as a geochemist) but raises some very interesting issues I have been mulling over for some years about the immense significance of the ‘partnership’ which actually applies on Earth between oxygen-breathing animal life and the oxygen-creating and CO2-absorbing cyanobacteria and plant kingdoms and the roles of methanogens and sulfur reducing bacteria.
I am coming round to the view that this is the real paradigm which the human race needs to embrace in order to manage issues such as AGW (if it actually exists) and (perhaps more importantly) the levels of dissolved CO2 and O2 in the surface layers of the ocean and the sustainability of the continental plant biomass.
Realization of this over-arching paradigm has deep implications for how we look at coal, oil and gas, how we may re-create it sustainably, how we manage our partnership with the oceanic cyanobacteria, the sea floor methanogens and continental plants in a truly intelligent and symbiotic way.
In my view this article might almost be classed as seminal, so profound are the issues which it raises in a popular science context.”