Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web


Published on Friday, April 7, 2017

Permian Mass Extinction Reveals the Catastrophic Effects of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere


Permian Mass Extinction Reveals the Catastrophic Effects of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere

The Permian mass extinction of 250 million years ago is said to be the Earth’s largest mass extinction. According to the book When Life Nearly Died, approximately 90% of life on Earth was wiped out. Theories for the mass extinction include: massive volcanic eruptions, meteor strikes, and global warming. Scientists researching the Permian mass extinction are leaning towards the idea that it was caused by an unprecedented global warming caused by greenhouse gases.

Published Findings

In the journal Paleoworld, a paper was published to shed some light on the Permian mass extinction. Researchers predict that the large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during this time was from volcanic eruptions. This caused the Earth’s average temperature to increase by 8 to 11 degrees Celsius. Scientists predict that the global temperature during the Permian would have reached 29 degrees Celsius and above. The rise in global temperatures resulted in permafrost melt, causing large amounts of methane to be released into the atmosphere. And according to the paper, methane in the atmosphere is “lethal to most life on land and in the oceans”.

The researchers studied the measurements of gases that were trapped in the mineral calcite from the Permian mass extinction. The vast amount of greenhouse gases found in the mineral calcite has led them to believe that global warming and climate change is what caused most of the life on Earth to die at the end of the Permian period. Carbon dioxide was the trigger to the catastrophe, but when more methane was being released from its frozen state, the effects became apocalyptic.

Feedback on the Permian Mass Extinction Findings

Peter Wadhams, the head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, believes that this major pulse of methane could have happened during the Permian. However, he thinks that the methane pulse would not have been enough to cause an apocalyptic mass extinction on Earth. Wadhams said that “If there were a large methane release, which is now possible because of the instability of the methane hydrates underneath the Arctic continental shelves, the off-shore waters, that could quite easily give rise to a very large pulse”.

Wadhams is not disregarding the findings from the Paleoworld paper, but believes that the researchers have over exaggerated the effects of the methane hydrates. He even criticised the paper’s title, “Methane hydrate: Killer cause of Earth’s greatest mass extinction”. Yes, the release of methane hydrates in the atmosphere can be catastrophic, but it is not yet definitive whether their effect can be apocalyptic.  


Are We on the Road to Another Mass Extinction?

The team of researchers from the United States, Canada, Italy and Germany who discovered these findings say that their information is relevant in dealing with the world’s current global warming problems. Currently the Earth’s average global temperature is 15 degrees Celsius (about half of the predicted average during the Permian mass extinction). The world is currently faced with rising global temperatures and experiencing permafrost melt. Although it remains unclear whether methane can have apocalyptic effects, we must not discredit the negative effects it has on the planet.

Research on the Permian mass extinction gives us some food for thought in what might become of the Earth if we reach the point where our global temperatures rise at an unprecedented rate, if too much methane is released from permafrost and if our climate patterns become grossly unpredictable. According to Tim Palmer, Oxford University physicist, humanity faces an uncertain future. Science has presented the world with a wide range of possibilities for what might lay ahead.

Rate this article:
No rating
Comments ()Number of views (753)

Author: AThompson

Categories: Blogs, Research, Energy & Power, Climate & Weather, Space



Search Jobs


«January 2018»

Climate Change & The Poor: A Toxic Relationship

The impacts of climate change are undoubtedly affecting the world on a global scale. However, its effects are far more pronounced among the poor.

Read more

Pre-Historic Ticks

Ticks are some of the most aggravating parasites today but they've been around for millions of years - even long enough to feed on the blood of dinosaurs.

Read more

'The Cove' Nine Years Later

You may remember the uproar surrounding The Cove almost a decade ago. Today, the fishing community at the heart of the film has finally spoken up. 

Read more

Saving A Life

Watch this amazing footage of the rescue of a drowned puppy and the ingenuity, persistence, and passion of the man who saved it.

Read more

Winter Enviro-friendly Tips

This is the time of year for family, food, and holiday cheer. But it's also the season that produces the most waste. Here's how to get green over the holidays.

Read more

A Mesmerizing Flock

Have a look at this visually hypnotizing footage of one of nature's most arresting phenomenons - the flight of the flock of starlings. A gorgeous sight to behold!

Read more

The Controversy of Fracking

Fracking is in fact dangerous. Recent study proves that infants in areas surrounding fracking sites may suffer from permanent health effects and growth problems.

Read more

An Unobstructed Look Inside The Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA has long stood as one of the most powerful defenders of the health and safety of the environment and safety standards. A lot has changed. 

Read more

Master of Deception

Few living species can match the powers of deception and stealth quite like the amazing Zodrian spider - known for wearing the carcasses of their victims.

Read more

The Digital Impact: Bitcoin's Carbon Footprint

Bitcoin is becoming one of the most quickly growing cryptocurrencies today. But this new form of payment is more costly for the environment than you may think. 

Read more

Animals That Fit On Your Finger

There are few things as adorable and heartwarming as pint-sized pets. Here are just some of the most popular ones available today.

Read more

Amazing Fungus Breaks Down Plastic Within a Few Weeks

No doubt about it, plastics are amazing. But they're also particularly bad for the environment as they're tough to break down. A new study has a solution - fungus. 

Read more

Curious Bear Finds The Camera

Getting that perfect wildlife shot can be tough. That's why the BBC Earth team developed innovative spy cameras to catch each amazing moment, like the skiing cam. 

Read more

Baby Sea Turtle Treadmills

Light pollution has become a serious problem of modern living. And for turtles, it's even worse. That's why scientists devised this unique and adorable experiment. 

Read more

Consider This Before Your Next Virtual Shopping Trip

Online shopping has long been held in high regard as the more eco-friendly way to purchase. But e-commerce may actually be worse for our environment than you think.

Read more

Traffic Stopped by Silverback Gorillas

Silverback gorillas are amazing and beautiful creatures to be sure. Watch as a troop is filmed literally stopping traffic crossing a crowded road. 

Read more

China's Ivory Trade Ban: What It Means Going Forward

Elephant numbers have long been on the decline due to poaching for their tusks. But China's new ivory trade ban aims to curb that trend and protect these animals.

Read more

Hungry Deer Meets Delicious Snowman

Tis the season for snowmen to start popping up on front lawns. But don't leave carrots out for too long or you might get a hungry wildlife visitor.

Read more

The Future of Power: Solar Windows

While solar technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, one innovation in the industry is set to change the way we collect power forever - solar windows. 

Read more

Literally Swimming in Drugs

It's a tragedy that animals are trapped in our trash. But it's astounding that one turtle in particular was found wrapped up in over $53 million worth of cocaine.

Read more

Whose Responsible for Your Dirty Water?

Clean drinking water is supposed to be a right of every citizen in the nation. However, this right is often violated - and it isn't getting any better.

Read more

Global Warming & Cold Spells: What's the Connection?

When faced with bitter-cold weather, some people tend to think global warming isn't real. But in fact, global warming just may be the culprit behind dropping temps.

Read more

Spiders: Ancient & Amazing

Spiders have been producing silk for literally hundreds of millions of years. Take a look at just why these creatures and the silk they produce are so amazing. 

Read more

The Threat of Ocean Deoxygenation

We often hear of the widespread effects of pollution on the ocean and the life it holds. But there's another threat beneath the surface - ocean deoxygenation.

Read more

The Sun: An Introduction

The Sun is literally the source of life for everything on the planet earth. But what is that giant ball of light in the sky really? How does it work?

Read more


    Help Us Go Green
    Help Us Go Green