7.6.08

Anoxic Oceans and You

In a previous post I discussed what would happen if we continue to burn fossil fuels at our current pace. Sooner than later we will hit a critical mass and most life in the oceans will cease to exist. That term is called "anoxic event". Here's what happens.

The last anoxic event, roughly 125,000 years ago, happened as a result of a period of increased volcanic activity. The hundreds of years of heavy eruptions increased the global temperature of Earth. The polar ice caps started melting, and more areas of Earth became tropical environments (wasn't mentioned in the Bible, but this is all true). With the melting of polar ice and increased temperatures, massive rain storms attacked most of land. All this heavy rain washed to the rivers which, in turn, made it's way to the oceans. With the deluge of rain also came countless amounts of nutrient-rich sediment that washed off the land and flowed to the oceans. This gave rise to a massive increase in plankton and other organisms which fed on these nutrients. And, of course, larger ocean-dwelling animals increased in large number. This was a time of massive populations in the oceans.

Now let's discuss how oxygen gets into the oceans. There are massive currents in the oceans that circulate water over thousands of miles. One example is the Gulf Stream, which a part of actually stopped for 10 days a few years back (shit your pants scary). Warm surface water is circulated to the poles where it hits the cold, frozen caps. There the water cools and falls to the bottom of the ocean, carrying oxygen down also. There the oxygenated water is circulated back to the equator where it warms and is risen to the surface. Thus the term cycle.

Well, what happens if the Earth is warmed up enough that the polar ice melts and the temperature remains high, at the poles, for a long period of time? Well, the water at the poles stop falling and oxygen isn't delivered to the tropics. The cycle stops. Plants and animals in the ocean die off because of lack of oxygen in the water. This is what happened during the last anoxic event. This didn't happen slowly, over time. Scientists believe that the circulation stopped like a "switch was turned off" perhaps over only a few hundred years (chump change considering the age of Earth - 8000 years old).

All that plankton and animal life died, and sunk to the bottom of the ocean floor. There they rotted until the black, carbon sludge remained. Once the volcanic activity slowed, the smog over the planet fell back to Earth, the Earth cooled, and "like a switch" the cycle started back up, pumping oxygen back into the oceans. Over a hundred thousand years (oh, Bible people, I'm sorry, I mean 'over decades') landmasses changed: oceans forced land to the surface, earthquakes changed landscapes, and deep oceanic eruptions spread out the ocean floor.

Where am I going with this? That black, carbon sludge became the oil that is pumping out of the ground today in record numbers. Experts say that most of Earth's oil today was made as a result of that massive ocean die-off.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed. All that carbon is now being burned in record numbers. And we have a few hundred more years of burning (including coal and other types of ground mined carbons). The United States coal supply will last at least 250 years on it's own. The U.S.'s coal supply is equivalent to the Middle East's oil supply when it comes to concentrations of on the planet. We'll be burning something based on carbon for a long, long, long time.

Scientists also surmise that the current volume of burning these carbon fuels is increasing the greenhouse gases at a rate higher than those volcano's were pumping smoke in the atmosphere back at that time. And once we melt the poles, and stop the ocean currents, and drastically change the environment due to the currents stopping, and kill all life in the oceans, except for some bacteria which thrive on low-oxygen, high hydrogen sulfide environments, we will have completed our goal of destroying Earth for us to inhabit.

But, no worries, She is strong, though She has only met a few forces greater than us. Once we are gone, over time, all that carbon will fall back to the surface, and will be absorbed back into the planet, perhaps being used as fuel for a future species that will burn it all back into the atmosphere.


3 comments:

wmb said...

The earth is 4.5 billion years old mate , NOT 8k. Dont make shit up and post it , are you trying to sap the average IQ ,i mean honestly.

B-Town V.J.G. J Ho said...

Wow! A Moron above actually thought I was being honest when I said the Earth was 8k years old. Do More Than Stumble. Read. Then You Would Know That That Age Was Not Reflecting My Ideals.

B-Town V.J.G. J Ho said...

Didn't I say at the beginning of the Second paragraph that the last anoxic event may have happened 125,000+ years ago? So how can the Earth be 8,000 years old?