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About 250 million years ago, nearly all life on Earth suddenly died. One expert believes the die-off — which killed 90 percent of all species and is known as the end-Permian extinction event — happened over the course of just 100,000 years. But until now, most hypotheses about what caused it have seemed like pure speculation: asteroids, volcanoes, and massive coal fires among them.
A new theory, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers a different conclusion. And it's one most people have some familiarity with: climate change caused by greenhouse gases. Without humans around to spur it on, however, the scientists behind the research (from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nanjing) needed a new culprit. They found their suspect in tiny microbes called Methanosarcina. Through metabolism, these microscopic organisms emit enormous amounts of methane, which is extremely effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
I just found this interesting, Cows today, microscopic organism yesterday.
I guess anything is possible.
Enjoy the read.
Actually it is still microscopic organisms inside the cows (and other grazing animals) who produce the methane emitted by cows.
Cows today, microscopic organism yesterday....that is why yesterday's mass extinction took 100,000 years, because it was microscopic organisms at fault. This time it will only take decades because cows and man are a lot bigger than tiny little microbes.
The big concern about methane extinction isn't from cows, it's from all the frozen methane under the ocean. It's thought a temperature rise could cause these large reserves of methane to be released, causing more temperature rise and more methane to be released in a runaway greenhouse effect.
The capacity of an adult dairy cow’s rumen is about 184 liters (49 gallons) and the reticulum is about 16 liters (4.25 gallons). It is one of the most dense microbial habitats in the world. Microscopic organisms called rumen microbes break down (or digest) ingested feed by a fermentation process. ...The cow does not secrete any of her own acids or digestive enzymes in the rumen. Rather, all rumen digestion is done by the microbes....
Dairy cows produce 30-50 liters (8-13 gallons) of gas per hour. Carbon dioxide (CO2) (about 60%) and methane (CH4) (about 40%) are the main waste gases produced by the rumen microbes.
Scientists have long believed that thawing permafrost in Arctic soils could release huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Now they are watching with increasing concern as methane begins to bubble up from the bottom of the fast-melting Arctic Ocean...
What concerns some scientists is evidence from past geological eras that sudden releases of methane have triggered runaway cycles of climate upheaval.
So carbon and nickel were needed to make it bad enough to release that much methane? The article doesn't say how much of these things are in the ocean or atmosphere now but I will assume no nickel since no increase in volcanic activity.
Yesterday I was wondering how the extra warmth impacts the core of the earth. If the planet is heating up faster than it can cool itself back down (keep balance) where is the extra kinetic energy going? It's being absorbed by the earth but how is that distributed? We know the oceans are taking up a bunch of the extra energy but it's not clear to me yet where the rest is going.