Scientists Alarmed by Telltale Sign of Global Mass Extinction

The perfect conditions have been created by humanity for ecological catastrophe.
Mass Extinction

Around 90 percent of all species on Earth died in the Great Dying, which occurred 251 million years ago. Researchers now believe that human activity has restored one of the most important warning signs that preceded it.

On the rise are toxic algal and bacterial blooms, in which algae and microbes quickly blanket freshwater systems and effectively choke out any life below. They are already similar to the Great Dying blooms, Chris Mays, a Swedish Museum of Natural History paleobotanist, told Motherboard.

Mays and his colleagues published research last week in Nature that shows alarming parallels between conditions that led to the Great Dying, and the effects of the current climate change emergency. This is a warning sign that we may be facing another global crisis.

Motherboard spoke to Mays that unlike the species that experienced mass extinctions in the past, we have the ability to prevent toxic blooms by maintaining clean water and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.



Backup Planet

Massive volcanic eruptions were likely responsible for the ancient mass extinction. They warmed the earth, created greenhouse gases and decimated carbon sinks such as forests. Humanity is now causing all three of these problems without Mother Nature's help. This is due to the widespread burning of fossil fuels, the destruction of forests, and other ecological destruction that has led to a sharp rise in the severity and number of blooms.

Motherboard's Mays said that the beauty of prehistoric extreme warming events like the end-Permian is that they offer arguably a better indicator of the effects of climate change.

Good news is that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations have not risen as much as they did before the Great Dying.

Motherboard's Mays said that we aren't there yet. Although there was a sixfold increase in carbon dioxide at the [extinction event], carbon dioxide levels today haven't doubled since preindustrial times.



Mays said that we are making progress quickly and that current models show that we can get there in a matter of decades if we don't take action. There is still hope, however, in the fact that modern algal blooms are not natural but caused by human activity.

READ MORE: Scientists say that a mass extinction event is on the rise.

Continue reading: Scientists warn of mass extinction as organisms flee the Equator.

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