Life After a Global Warming Extinction: The Story in Fossils

December 24, 2010

Google Permian extinction.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The Permian extinction, also known as the Great Dying, was the most extreme example we know of in Earth’s history of what a massive warming event has done to the planet in the past. The event, about 250 million years ago, was kicked off by enormous release of greenhouse gases from massive volcanic eruptions. Over time, it resulted in radical changes in ocean chemistry that destroyed more than 90 percent of the species then on the planet.

Recent fossil finds in China confirm that the destruction was so complete, it took life 10 million years or more to recover.

Peter Ward’s account in Scientific American paints the picture of an overwhelming disaster. He subsequently expanded the story into a terrifying book, Under a Green Sky.

Important to remember, we still have time to head this off.

I touch on the story, and Richard Alley’s account of it in this video.

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