Human activity has brought back one of the top warning signs that preceded the “Great Dying” at the end of the Permian era, when roughly 90 percent of the species on Earth went extinct about 251 million years ago.
According to Swedish Museum of Natural History research, toxic algal and bacterial blooms — in which algae and other microbes rapidly blanket freshwater systems and essentially choke out anything living beneath — are on the rise.In some cases, they’re already comparable to the blooms that strangled aquatic life during the Great Dying.
These findings are alarming parallels between the conditions leading up to the Great Dying and the impacts of our current climate change emergency — a dire warning that we could be facing a similar global crisis.
The ancient mass extinction event was likely caused by massive volcanic eruptions that warmed the planet, flooded the air with greenhouse gases, and destroyed carbon sinks like forests.
Now, humanity is causing all three problems, thanks to the rampant burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and other forms of ecological destruction — causing a sharp increase in the number and severity of blooms.
The good news is that so far, atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations aren’t nearly as bad as they were before the Great Dying but we are catching up pretty quickly and current models suggest that if we don’t take action, we’ll get there within decades.
Reference- journal Nature, Motherboard, Futurism, National Geographic