22 Nov '11, 4pm

We’re on track to kill the planet faster than the worst extinction in history

Earth has had many mass extinctions, but about 250 million years ago something really, really bad happened. In an event known to paleontologists as "the Great Dying," life itself was nearly extinguished by massive releases of greenhouse gases. And by “massive releases” we mean “releases slower than what we’ve got going on today.” Scientists at MIT recently established that the Great Dying happened even faster than they'd previously imagined, and that "the average rate at which carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere … was slightly below today’s rate of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel emissions." The good news is that the extinction happened faster than scientists thought, but not remotely what you’d call fast. The greenhouse gas buildup required to accomplish the near-total extinction of the only known oasis of life in the entire universe took s...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/list/2011-11-22-were-on-track-to-kil...

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