Bacteriadammerung

Bacteriadammerung

[Ed. – We post excerpts.  You decide if they mean you should look for another line of existence.]

This event was monumental, an apocalypse that was literally global in scale, and one of the most deadly disasters in Earth’s history.

It began about 2.5 billion years ago (though opinions vary). The Earth was very different then. There were no leafy plants, no animals, no insects. Although there may have been some bacterial life on land, it was the oceans that teemed with it, and even there life was far simpler than it is today. Most of the bacteria thriving on Earth were anaerobic, literally metabolizing their food without oxygen.

But then an upstart appeared, and things changed. This new life came in the form of cyanobacteria, sometimes called blue-green algae. …

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At some point…as cyanobacteria flourished, the minerals and other [oxygen] sinks became saturated. They could no longer absorb the oxygen being produced. It built up in the water, in the air. To the other bacteria living in the ocean—anaerobic bacteria, remember—oxygen was toxic. The cyanobacteria were literally respiring poison.

A die-off began, a mass extinction killing countless species of bacteria. … But there was worse to come. …

It was perhaps the first of the mass extinctions life would face on our planet, and its impact resonates through the eons (and of course there is quite a lot of detail to this story). …

It’s an interesting tale, don’t you think? The dominant form of life on Earth, spread to the far reaches of the globe, blissfully and blithely pumping out vast amounts of pollution, changing the environment on a planetary scale, sealing their fate. They wouldn’t have been able to stop even if they knew what they were doing, even if they had been warned far, far in advance of the effects they were creating.

If this is a cautionary tale, if there is some moral you can take away from this, you are free to extract it for yourself. If you do, perhaps you can act on it.

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