Enjoy today because we may have just months left (no joke)

Yesterday, I thought we had only 16 million years left till the next mass extinction. But after reading this article — the scariest thing I’ve ever read — I fear I might have been 16 million years too optimistic. If this article’s fears come to pass, BP has triggered the imminent eruption of a civilization-annihilating methane bubble that will soon destroy humanity, along with most life on Earth:

251 million years ago a mammoth undersea methane bubble caused massive explosions, poisoned the atmosphere and destroyed more than 96 percent of all life on Earth. Experts agree that what is known as the Permian extinction event was the greatest mass extinction event in the history of the world.

55 million years later another methane bubble ruptured causing more mass extinctions during the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum (LPTM).

The LPTM lasted 100,000 years.

Those subterranean seas of methane virtually reshaped the planet when they explosively blew from deep beneath the waters of what is today called the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, worried scientists are increasingly concerned the same series of catastrophic events that led to worldwide death back then may be happening again-and no known technology can stop it.

The bottom line: BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation may have triggered an irreversible, cascading geological Apocalypse that will culminate with the first mass extinction of life on Earth in many millions of years.

The oil giant drilled down miles into a geologically unstable region and may have set the stage for the eventual premature release of a methane mega-bubble.

…Many geologists concur: “The consequences of a methane-driven oceanic eruption for marine and terrestrial life are likely to be catastrophic. Figuratively speaking, the erupting region "boils over,” ejecting a large amount of methane and other gases (e.g., CO2, H2S) into the atmosphere, and flooding large areas of land. Whereas pure methane is lighter than air, methane loaded with water droplets is much heavier, and thus spreads over the land, mixing with air in the process (and losing water as rain). The air-methane mixture is explosive at methane concentrations between 5% and 15%; as such mixtures form in different locations near the ground and are ignited by lightning, explosions and conflagrations destroy most of the terrestrial life, and also produce great amounts of smoke and of carbon dioxide."

The story is being discussed at TIME and Business Insider and The Nation and City-Data.com.

The author of the original article also claims that BP is preparing some desperate measures — called an “explosively pumped flux compression generator” (EPFCG) — it hopes could prevent apocalypse. The fear is that the immense pressure of the methane has weakened — and will continue to progressively weaken until it fails entirely — the seafloor that protects humanity from the deadly methane long trapped below. The EPFCG would be deployed in the hope that it would re-strengthen the seafloor:

The pulse can be shaped and directed and used to knock out electronics-or more importantly in this case—to fuse virtually any material—including crumbling rock strata deep under the sea. The fantastically energized pulse can also compress objects to very high pressures and densities.

According to engineers familiar with the technology, the devices can generate plasma arcs hotter than the surface of the sun that will melt and fuse materials in nanoseconds.

I sure as heck hope this is all untrue. And there are credible scientists saying this is not a realistic fear. But given the willful secrecy the U.S. government has placed on this, it’s possible there are real fears beyond the oil-and-gas gusher itself.

Posted by James on Wednesday, July 14, 2010