Mass Extinction Then, Mass Sickness Now – Oxygen Depletion Then and Now

Majid Ali, M.D.

Our planet is oxygen-depleted and fermenting now and so is life on it. Ours is not the first epoch of oxygen-depletion and fermentation. What might such epoch of the past tell us about the shape of things to come?


Oxyphils-Oxyphobes Conflicts

In our toxic preoccupation with daily intramural murders, we are missing the central story of our time: an epic planetary struggle between the oxygen-loving (“oxyphils”) and oxygen-shunning (“oxyphobes”) species and the incremental victories of the latter. A monumental tragedy of mass extinction of species is playing out on the global stage. Oxygen-loving frogs and related amphibian species are being decimated by oxygen-shunning fungi. The oxygen-shunners are also responsible for the disppearance of butterflies, collapsing bee colonies, and bats that fly out of their caves in daylight and drop dead. The fungus-ridden noses of those bats foretell things about the shape of the future.


Geologic records indicate that about 55 million years ago oceanic waters became corrosive enough to have caused near extinction of calcifying algae. Enormous geochemical events caused extreme global warming, sharp rises in atmospheric CO2 and acidity (steep falls in the pH) of sea water. The resulting corrosiveness of water killed an estimated 75% of all life on the planet. Most disturbingly, the prevailing trends seem to indicate oceanic corrosiveness may increase to those levels in twenty-five years or so, with apocalyptic consequences.


Oxygen Denialists

A distressing aspect of the problem of planetary chemicalization, oxygen-deficits, and fermentation is the position taken by most officials in the industrialized countries. I make my point by citing the case of bisphenol A (“Bis-A”), a chemical found in milk bottles of infants. Here is what the associate director of the National Toxicology Program (U.S.) said about the compound: “There remains considerable uncertainty whether the changes seen in the animal studies are directly applicable to humans, and whether they would result in clear adverse health effects.” Now consider this: Yale University researchers exposed monkeys to levels of Bis-A deemed safe for humans by the Environmental Protection Agency. They found that the chemical in those amounts interfered with brain cell connections vital to memory, learning and mood.


 


In April, 2011, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg introduced legislation to update “Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976” (TSCA) to protect Americans from exposure to dangerous toxins. Lautenberg chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, proposed that the chemical industry be held responsible for demonstrating the safety of industrial chemicals they manufacture for household products. Wether this effort will yield any meaningful results remains to be seen. Similar efforts in the past did not.

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