The earth’s mass extinction occurred some 250 million years ago and caused the disappearance of 90% marine life and damaged the planet to a great degree, it is feared by the scientists that unprecedented use of the earth’s resources may land us in a similar situation today.
Johnson Marcos is a Marine Conservationist and Writer – based in Sydney.
Global warming is the process of long-term rise in the average temperature of the earth’s climate. Global warming is generated by a range of human interventions that have particularly enhanced in the post-industrial world.
Global warming is seen to be having adverse impacts on the world of animal and human species along with the diversity in the plant kingdom. One of the worst repercussions of global warming is that a large number of animal species around the world is becoming extinct.
Rapid spurts in global temperatures have caused the largest extinction process in world history which has led to the destruction of a wide range of marine animals along with terrestrial species that have been unable to cope with the changes in the climate.
More than 252 million years ago the phenomenon called the ‘Great Dying’ took place in the world which led to mass extinction.
The study of the fossils from this time suggests that this could be the largest calamity to befall on earth and was greater even compared to the extinction of the dinosaurs that took place 65 million years ago. It is important to note that in the ‘Great Dying’, 95% of the earth’s marine species and 75% of the terrestrial species had disappeared.
This moment in the earth’s life brought such a huge change that most of the plants, trees, lizards and even the microbes faded away from the planet. One of the major reasons that the scientists around the world have pointed at for the massive extinction was the rise in global temperatures.
The warning that they give is that because the earth is similarly rising in temperature, the land and ocean could again be dramatically impacted. It has been reported that it was the worst extinction that planet earth has gone through and today when the temperature of the earth is rapidly increasing, it is important for us to think about its results.
The study of the ‘Great Dying’ has introduced us to a variety of causes for the extinction of large scale animal and plant existence. One of the major causes of the extinction of marine life was that there began an absence and scarcity of the available limits of oxygen in the water that led to the deaths of marine animals.
They did not get access to even the minimum levels of oxygen that are needed for surviving and led to their extinction as the temperature of the earth increased by around 10 C (18F). It was in this period that the oceans on the planet lost 80% of their oxygen and parts of the sea floor turned completely oxygen free. Scientists assert that such a rise the global temperatures occurred due to volcanic activity and rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
The falling of the oxygen levels inside the water meant that marine life could no longer survive. This also asserted that there is a delicate balance between the temperature on the land and the level of oxygen in the water. When the life inside of the oceans wasn’t able to cope up with the lack of oxygen it led to its death in large numbers. Today we live in the post-industrial world where fossil fuels burn in large numbers and but volcanic eruptions rare. This rise in global temperatures has led to the melting of ice caps, death of animals- plants, extinction of species etc. Scientists are of the opinion that even if we reach half way to the ‘Great Dying’ we will have led to a rampant damage to the earth and it must concern us all. It is important that humankind learns lessons from the ‘Great Dying’ because although it was a time when industrialisation had not even started and there was no burning of fossil fuels it could lead to wide scale earth damage, today while we pollute and contribute in the rising global temperature- just imagine how serious our problems can be. Our carbon-dioxide emissions are geologically pathological and damaging to the earth’s ecosystem.
We have also seen how in several regions there are lower oxygen levels in many areas that affect the marine ecosystem. If we go on using the earth in such a restless manner and don’t take adequate steps to see to it that marine extinction is regulated, we will not be able to forgive ourselves.