More bad news about the planet.
According to a study published last week by researchers at the University of Washington, climate change—that thing Republicans are trying desperately ignore—was the cause of planet's largest-ever mass die-off.
Called the Great Dying, this period took place around 250 million years ago, and up to 80 percent of all species on the planet went extinct after global temps rose by over 10 degrees Celsius (18 F).
The event was precipitated by enormous volcanic eruptions over what is now called Siberia. These volcanoes emitted massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which then heated up the planet, much like coal-burning planets do today. Still, this happened over thousands of years, which is much, much slower than it's happening right now. Unless we get a time machine, go back to the year 2000, and convince everyone who voted for Ralph Nader to skip the third party and invest in Amazon, global temperatures are currently on track to rise 3 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial temps by the year 2100. That's extremely fucking rapid and is, despite what Donald will tell you, entirely due to burning fossil fuels.
All this temperature rise, according to the study's authors, will likely hit the oceans hardest. During the Great Dying, 96 percent of ocean species died off, primarily because as water gets warmer, it retains less oxygen. And that's exactly what's going to happen again. This won't just be tragic because biodiversity is a beautiful thing; it's also going to decimate industries that rely on the ocean—especially in cold temperature zones like the one we live in.
Meanwhile, White House representatives spent Monday at global climate talks in Poland, where they will promote burning more fossil fuels. It took volcanic eruptions and thousands of years to trigger the last Great Dying. Ours will just take a handful of wealthy men.