Is Our Planet Going the Way of the Dinosaurs?

We now think the big mass extinctions were caused by hydrogen sulfide bacteria. Two hundred hydrogen sulfide molecules among a million air molecules is enough to kill a human.

Is Our Planet Going the Way of the Dinosaurs?

Most of the big mass extinctions have been caused by nasty volcanic events.  The last one didn’t cause a mass extinction.  It was in the Tertiary Period.  This was in my own home state, Washington State, the Columbia River Basalts. 


Out came all this basalt, as liquid lava, and a lot of the carbon dioxide came out too, but not enough to cause the Earth to go into a really nasty mass extinction.  The mass extinctions caused by the basalts happen by simply heating the world.  When you heat the world you heat the pole more than you do the equatorial region.  When that happens, you start losing circulation.  The only reason you have wind now is you have a hot spot and a cold spot and they’re trying to equilibrate.  With an ocean current you have the same thing.  You have a cold Antarctic and then you warm them up, the ocean circulation system is dampened down. There’s much less heat difference.  

We already have very sluggish ocean circulation. The oceans are going oxic - losing their oxygen.  They only keep oxygenated now because of this vigorous mixing.  Even when you have oxygen in the atmosphere and contact with the surface, once you slow down any circulation, that whole basin can lose this oxygen.  The Black Sea is the same case.  It’s sits under a 21% oxygen atmosphere, and yet the Black Sea, except for the top several meters, in anoxic.  It’s black because it’s producing a lot of sulfur-producing bacteria and there’s very nasty gasses that are produced.  

We now think the big mass extinctions were caused by global anoxia.  The oceans themselves were so sluggish that the hydrogen sulfide bacteria were produced in huge areas of the ocean. The bottom bubbles up to the surface and starts killing things - rotten egg killing.  It would be extremely nasty.  Hydrogen Sulfide poisoning is a horrible death.  Two hundred hydrogen sulfide molecules among a million air molecules is enough to kill a human.  Just breathing in 200 of those little things amid all the million you’re getting in oxygen and boom, you’re down, horribly down.  

So, this is a really nasty poison and it was certainly present in past oceans during these short-term global warming events.  That’s why it’s really spooky what we’re doing now.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

COVID-19 amplified America’s devastating health gap. Can we bridge it?

The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.

Willie Mae Daniels makes melted cheese sandwiches with her granddaughter, Karyah Davis, 6, after being laid off from her job as a food service cashier at the University of Miami on March 17, 2020.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
  • Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
  • To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
Keep reading Show less

Chernobyl fungus could shield astronauts from cosmic radiation

A recent study tested how well the fungi species Cladosporium sphaerospermum blocked cosmic radiation aboard the International Space Station.

C. sphaerospermum

Medmyco / Wikimedia Commons
Surprising Science
  • Radiation is one of the biggest threats to astronauts' safety during long-term missions.
  • C. sphaerospermum is known to thrive in high-radiation environments through a process called radiosynthesis.
  • The results of the study suggest that a thin layer of the fungus could serve as an effective shield against cosmic radiation for astronauts.
Keep reading Show less

Bruce Lee: How to live successfully in a world with no rules

Shannon Lee shares lessons from her father in her new book, "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."

Bruce Lee: How to live successfully in a world with no rules ...
Videos
  • Bruce Lee would have turned 80 years old on November 27, 2020. The legendary actor and martial artist's daughter, Shannon Lee, shares some of his wisdom and his philosophy on self help in a new book titled "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
  • In this video, Shannon shares a story of the fight that led to her father beginning a deeper philosophical journey, and how that informed his unique expression of martial arts called Jeet Kune Do.
  • One lesson passed down from Bruce Lee was his use and placement of physical symbols as a way to help "cement for yourself this new way of being, or this new lesson you've learned." By working on ourselves (with the right tools), we can develop the skills necessary to rise and conquer new challenges.
Keep reading Show less

3 reasons for information exhaustion – and what to do about it

How to deal with "epistemic exhaustion."

Photo by Filip Mishevski on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
An endless flow of information is coming at us constantly: It might be an article a friend shared on Facebook with a sensational headline or wrong information about the spread of the coronavirus.
Keep reading Show less
Culture & Religion

Top 5 theories on the enigmatic monolith found in Utah desert

A strange object found in Utah desert has prompted worldwide speculation about its origins.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast