The Math Is Complete And Its Ocean Carbon Math
It Proves A Sixth Mass Extinction Is Nearly Upon Us
A new analysis of past mass extinctions based on the ocean carbon fossil record show that already our near lethal overdose of CO2, our yesterday’s CO2 emissions, will doom life on and in this blue planet before the end of this century.
Like all poisons one can commit suicide by taking a little poison over a long time or a lot of poison over a short time, we Suicidal Attention Deficit humans have taken the short course.
This seminal paper does the eco-toxicology poison dose math and has clearly defined the lethality of our big fast dose of proven death-dealing CO2. No amount life-style changes will save us, only a dramatic, immediate, and effective medical intervention with the antidote offers even a slim hope for survival.
Don’t despair, the cure is at hand, if we have the wisdom and will to use it. Ocean pasture restoration will save the world.
A new paper published Wednesday in the Journal Science Advances ‘shows the math’ and the inevitable mass extinction conclusion as reported by acclaimed planetary geophysicist and mathematician, a.k. a. toxicologist, Daniel Rothman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It’s a horrifying paper but I urge you to continue reading as I provide a reward in that this paper helps prove the way forward to save the world and ourselves from the impending doom of mass extinction.
Rothman, who has previously been awarded for his mathematical analysis of the carbon cycle, set out to perform a wide ranging meta-analysis of available data relating to the five previous mass extinctions, that’s roughly half a billion years of data – including the Permian Great Dying, which saw the end of 95% of all marine species – and see what, if any, conclusions could be drawn in relation to today’s concern over the impact of our fossil fuel emissions to drive ocean and climate change.
The study began with the hypothesis that every mass extinction, the first of which began around 540 million years ago, could be characterized as a major disruption to the Earth’s normal carbon cycle as would be seen in the geologic record of ocean life, ultimately the ocean plankton pastures which are the primary natural biological control mechanism for planetary CO2.
Another condition examined in the past planetary mass extinctions was timescale of the CO2 disruptions that were hypothesized to drive the extinctions. These time frames varied and have occurred over time frames of thousands, or even millions, of years. Rothman, a consumate mathematician who I envision to be much like Sheldon on the TV series The Big Bang, wanted to find out how the mathematics used to describe and define events of that magnitude of the past mass extinctions might be compared with the equations that could mirror this blue planet’s current condition. The difference is that today the massive carbon overdose has taken place over the course of mere decades starting at the beginning of the fossil fuel age which really did not become ‘suicidally’ dangerous until the end of World War Two.
“How can you really compare these great events in the geologic past, which occur over such vast timescales, to what’s going on today, which is centuries at the longest?” he says.
“So I sat down one summer day and tried to think about how one might go about this systematically.”
Rothman combed through hundreds of geo-chemical papers to find occasions on which big disruptions happened in the Earth’s carbon cycle taking note of the dose and duration parameters like any good toxicologist would do with in an emergency room where a patient had just been admitted for treatment of attempted suicide by poison.
The Full Plankton Manifesto – Replenish and Restore our Ocean Pastures, or else! Click to read more.
The new study details
The tools at Rothman’s disposal are state-of-the-art and impeccable and allowed him to ascertain historically how similar planetary poisonings have proceeded whether from a massive dose of poison ingested over a short time or smaller but also lethal does of the same poison taken over time frames of millennia to eons. He also noted the length of the event, expressed as the time it took for life of our blue planet to return from those great dyings.
The Lethal Dose Is Determined
Eventually, Rothman found 31 events that made up a working data set was able to devise a formula that described the total mass/dose of carbon that was added to the Earth’s oceans for each event. It became clear that there was a threshold dose in play what we environmental ecologists call the LD90, lethal dose that kills 90+% of life.
“It became evident that there was a characteristic rate of change that the system basically didn’t like to go past,” Rothman says. “Then it became a question of figuring out what it meant.”
Four of the five mass extinctions were well beyond the LD90 threshold, with the biggest of them all, the Permian, the furthest away from it.
He went back to his earlier work for which he has won not only high praise but also Science’s most prominent awards for excellence. In that work he’d derived equations to describe the carbon cycle as a LOOP. That loop that is 90% taking place in the blue part of this planet, our oceans. It cycles CO2 between photosynthesis by ocean pastures and the decay of that ocean pasture plant life back into CO2.
His toxicologist math introduced a vital “leak function”: that’s the inherent capacity of nature to safely sequester or bank a proportion of the total carbon mass over long time frames as it becomes bound in the oceans and becomes effectively isolated from the deadly LD90 equation. From what you know about suicide treatment this is the equivalent of the immediate administration of a dose of an life saving agent to bind to the poison in your stomach so that the poison doesn’t make it into your blood where it will kill you.
The critical function in the Rothman model, therefore, was the rate at which carbon (as carbon dioxide) enters the system above the rate at which the leakage/antidote renders it harmless. Additional carbon that arrives that is beyond the capacity of the antidote cannot be accommodated and if sufficient it will insure a kill.
Rothman determined that the most critical part of the earth’s carbon cycle involves the small amount of carbon dioxide that is converted by ocean pasture plant life and the bits of those ‘ocean leaves of grass’ that sink to the bottom of the oceans, where it re-enters the Earths geologic cycle. But if the rate of carbon dioxide being added to the environment becomes too fast, that living ocean process is overwhelmed and cannot keep up to be the antidote for the extra CO2. That’s when the carbon cycle trips over into unstable territory and mass extinctions result.
The paper shows with deadly precision that in the long history of global great dying’s the lethal dose of CO2 usually crossed the threshold over long timescales if it grew faster than the ocean pasture ecosystem could neutralize it a great dying occurred. Over shorter periods, the rate of excess carbon production didn’t matter nearly as much as it was the incapacity of the oceans to neutralize it that was the determining factor.
Ducking for cover
Rothman ducked and covered and chose not to enter into more stormy ocean waters and discourse. His work fails to do more than identify the all important role of the oceans healthy capacity to manage CO2 overdoses. He ignores the present day double whammy effect where the oceans health has been reduced so dramatically that its natural capacity to heal is all but gone. That loss of carbon management is equivalent to be a vastly larger source of carbon than humanity. While Rothman clearly proves the only thing between us and another great dying is a healthy ocean he toes the line to the world where climate change speaks exclusively of the deadly emissions of CO2 wrought by modern technology and the determination that only a matching human technological effort can save the world.
Here’s my explanation of where Rothman goes down the wrong rabbit hole and then chooses to take the wrong color pill.
310 Gigatonnes of Carbon Is The Deadly Number
MIT’s Rothman very aptly, and in my view perfectly, proves that it is the 310 gigatonne additional dose of CO2 that is or will soon become the lethal dose resulting in a sixth mass extinction.
But he bases when we will reach this point of lethality upon his figure of 38,000 gt of carbon that he cites is now in the oceans and thus when we hit 38,310 we are toast.
Sadly many other authors point out there is already a much higher number for the carbon in the ocean, for example I am looking at an IUCN paper of 2014 that cites 40,453+ gt. That number is already far beyond Rothman’s Sixth Mass Extinction tipping point.
We are tipped
The fact that the oceans have been losing an entire Amazon Forest worth of plant life and biodiversity every five years since 1950 is for me ample evidence of the mass extinction process that is already well underway in our oceans. There are a thousand other ocean mass extinction data points.. Click the image of the ocean grim reaper to read more.
What Rothman does is perfectly prove that we are very near the tipping point and will see a sixth mass extinction though he waffles on the ‘will see’ part, those are my words. He diverts from the pure math and scientific logic of his paper to posit some political science. He makes the proposition that since human technology is the source of the 310 giga-tonnes of imminent doom that only human technology might avert the problem. This looks to me like classical human sin, confession, and act of contrition dogma.
To support that everything is all about us, humans and our sin, he crafted his paper to diminish the role and capacity of the living ocean such that it cannot be the contrition that mitigates our technological sin. He discounts the living ocean standing biomass and its role in managing our carbon and only allows the minuscule sedimentation rate of carbon that re-enters the geologic system in the sediments of the seabed as the living oceans means to solve the crisis.
Note that on land all climate and carbon science acknowledges, accepts, and banks on biological carbon in the entire living standing biomass as being part of the cure.
Bring back the fish, save the world on the side.
I maintain that the living ocean can and will save us but instead of the ocean needing to be anointed with holy water (mansplaining technological dogma) it needs minuscule amounts of Mother Nature’s own holy dust. That dust administered at the rate, far below that which holy water relieves the sin of a congregation in a cathedral, administered to Mother Nature in her natural cathedral of life, our oceans, will immediately be Natures salvation and our technological act of contrition. Click this link to read more on the proven power of dust.
Rothman’s work can readily be interpreted to show that ONLY the power of natural ocean photosynthesis has ever been able to hold a candle of hope against global suicide by CO2. Here’s a collection of posts to inspire your understanding and hope that we can and must deploy the proven sustainable ocean health restorations that might save this blue planet.
We Act Now To Save The Oceans Or Else They Won’t Save Us
Crunching all the numbers, Rothman has shown that in the current circumstances the LD90 threshold will be crossed when the amount of carbon pumped into the ocean – above the ocean pasture capacity to neutralize it – hits 310 gigatonnes.
The real dooms-day corollary comes from the best-case scenario modelling by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who show that that by 2100 the actual added ocean carbon load will just scrape under that target, at 300 gigatonnes. Every other scenario other than the “best case scenario” lands substantially above it.
That deadly date is the tipping point, Once the oceans are allowed to diminish in their capacity to neutralize our deadly suicidal CO2 overdose, yesterday’s CO2, life on and especially in this Blue Planet is doomed to endure another great dying and the 50 million years it takes for life to re-emerge from the ashes.
Everywhere on this blog you can read about what we can and must do to restore the oceans and their pastures to health. Better yet, join me to bring back the fish and save the world.