Skip to comments.Earth's massive extinction: The story gets worse
Posted on 01/07/2012 6:23:42 PM PST by SunkenCiv
Scientists have uncovered a lot about the Earth's greatest extinction event that took place 250 million years ago when rapid climate change wiped out nearly all marine species and a majority of those on land. Now, they have discovered a new culprit likely involved in the annihilation: an influx of mercury into the eco-system.
"No one had ever looked to see if mercury was a potential culprit. This was a time of the greatest volcanic activity in Earth's history and we know today that the largest source of mercury comes from volcanic eruptions," says Dr. Steve Grasby, co-author of a paper published this month in the journal Geology. "We estimate that the mercury released then could have been up to 30 times greater than today's volcanic activity, making the event truly catastrophic." Grasby is a research scientist at Natural Resources Canada and an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary.
Dr. Benoit Beauchamp, professor of geology at the University of Calgary, says this study is significant because it's the first time mercury has been linked to the cause of the massive extinction that took place during the end of the Permian.
"Geologists, including myself should be taking notes and taking another look at the other five big extinction events," says Beauchamp, also a co-author.
(Excerpt) Read more at physorg.com ...
This graphic shows historical variations of Mercury (Hg) deposition before and after the Latest Permian Extinction event as recorded in a sedimentary section in the High Arctic, Canada. The vertical axis demonstrates the depth of the sedimentary section relative to the extinction boundary while the horizontal looks at the amount of mercury accumulation (concentration in the rock) as measured in milligram per kilogram. Credit: Hamed Sanei, Steve Grasby and Benoit Beauchamp. (Sanei et al., 2012, Geology).
Early Neanderthal EPA consequences of CFL light bulb compliance.
"Researchers at the University of Calgary believe they have discovered evidence to support massive volcanic eruptions burnt significant volumes of coal, producing ash clouds that had broad impact on global oceans... Grasby and colleagues discovered layers of coal ash in rocks from the extinction boundary in Canada's High Arctic that give the first direct proof to support this and have published their findings in Nature Geoscience.
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Would traces of Mercury be detectable in Dinosaur bones affected by the event?
LOL! my first thought!
Nope. This way way before dinosaurs even existed.
I’m surprised someone hasn’t blamed volcanos on CO2, mercury, or some other natural product.
Personally, I think liberals cause volcanos. Now what can we do to eradicate liberals? It’s already proven that liberals are a danger to society.
Sacrifice them to the volcano gods?
Volcanic activity as a source of mercury runs a really, really, distant second to sub-sea erosion.
Both are, of course, exponentially greater sources than the burning of coal.
A man made extinction event (MMEE.)
When the contents of millions of these little fellows start reaching the water table we will have big trouble.
All nonexistent information here has been verified by Chokem, Hokem and Fiat.
But are you guys aware that old-fashioned standard fluorescent light bulbs (the long tube types in your shop fixtures, and the circular ones in the kitchen and bathroom) have just as much mercury if not more than CFLs?
The warning about not playing with broken fluorescent bulbs goes back at least to when I was kid in the 50's, and probably way before that.
Anyone like me, who has been in offices and factories where there are hundreds or thousands of 4-foot-long fluorescent tubes in the ceiling, views the current "OMG!! OMG!! OMG!!" reaction to CFLs with a certain amount of skepticism.
Not that the potential danger isn't there -- it is. My point is: it's not a new thing, and somehow civilization survives with all the long tube bulbs too.
The lesson here is: Don't confuse the social/political aspect of CFLs (having them crammed down our throats by bureaucrats) with the technical/scientific aspect which is the same-old-thing as with the long tubes.
I'm not disagreeing with you. Just pointing out that the problem has nothing to do with CFLs in particular, but instead with ALL fluorescent bulbs, including the long straight tubes, and the circular ones, etc. and that somehow we learned to deal with that in the past 60+ years. While there are more little CFLs than big tubes, the CFLs tend to have only a fraction of the mercury of the big ones. It evens out to a degree.
If you're going to complain about mercury in CFLs, be sure to include their bigger brothers too.
What null and void said. However, there’s a suggestion in the article that the other paleontological boundaries now be examined — obviously these jokers are I.D. (Impact Denialists) — for mercury. What actually needs to be done is examining the P-T boundary found in other locations — no mercury, no dice. It’s obvious they’re looking at a local fossil record of contamination by a nearby volcano.
Lead. Works way faster than mercury.
Women and minorities hurt the most.
Good catch, it’s localized.
Iridium spikes cause extinctions...
You're very welcome!
Have you seen the videos of this crazy team of Indian (Asian, not Nat. Amer.) fellows, "Warriors of Goja", who perform rapid-fire dangerous stunts on stage? Among a number of insane things like smashing bricks with a sledge on top of their heads, the guys take some long fluorescent tubes, and beat themselves and each other with them, breaking them all over the place... and one fellow EATS THEM -- bites right into the bulb, glass and all -- it's disturbing on so many levels.... but wild and funny to watch. (Put up with about 30 seconds of singing before the mayhem starts.)
The amount of mercury in these is minuscule compared to the old style fluorescent tubes which have pretty much lighted the world's large buildings since the 1940s.
Did George Bush detonate a super hyper mega SUV bomb rendering the world's environmental mercury a million billion times more toxic than it has ever been before?
How is this going to be a problem that can be detected or measured without the finest test equipment mankind can manufacture?
Oh, and for.the record, the “Ozone hole” has waxed and waned in sync with volcanic eruptions in the decades since CFCs were banned. Did you fall for.that one too?
You really can fool some of.the people all of the time.
That's why they have a lead scientist on the team. ;^)
"Typically, algae acts like a scavenger and buries the mercury in the sediment, mitigating the effect in the oceans," says lead-author Dr. Hamed Sanei, research scientist at Natural Resources Canada and adjunct professor at the University of Calgary.
I doubt we have very many Luddites here on FR. If our fascist government wants to shove Volts and CFL's down our throats, the most we workers should expect is that THEY have thought through the "technical/scientific" and pragmatic aspects of the products of their green agenda.
When superior products are introduced, consumers generally buy them, assuming they are affordable.
Admittedly, I have a fierce prejudice against the CFL. I don't consider it a scientific/technological advancement, and esthetically (and for reading, practically), the garage is the only "room" in my house I would tolerate having that special supermarket, factory, office "feel"---as long as I have a choice.
Nevertheless, while not presuming to speak for Dallas59, my skepticism about the merits of the CFL is more statistical---a matter of scale.
What has been the ratio of lightbulbs to fluorescent bulbs in the average home? I have about 50 incandescent bulbs to 3 long fluorescent tubes.
I can't find any statistics that quantify how many incandescent bulbs vs fluorescent tubes are currently in use in the US. I would like to see those statistics. How much more mercury will we introduce into our environment if every incandescent bulb is converted to a CFL? Has the government provided that information? I haven't seen it and can't find it.
The only reason I think CFL's are not likely to be a mercury problem is because I believe the public will probably reject them ---particularly if the price of LED's continue to decline and assuming we can't get the bill repealed.
"If a compact fluorescent lamp breaks in your home, open nearby windows immediately to disperse any mercury vapor that may escape, carefully sweep up the glass fragments, and wipe the area with a disposable paper towel to remove any remaining fragments. Do not try to pick up glass fragments with your hands, and do not use a vacuum. Place all glass fragments in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of them with your other household trash. "
If that's not possible, call the Hazmat crew. /sarc/
No kidding! And to the best of my knowledge, it's not faked -- they're really doing those things!
Those are legitimate questions. Let me give you what information I have.
The mercury in a fluorescent bulb is excited by applied electrical current to produce UV radiation, which in turn causes the coating of the bulb to "fluoresce" -- to give off the visible light we see from the bulb. Roughly, the amount of mercury in the bulb is proportional to the amount of light expected from the bulb, which is in turn proportional to its wattage. So one would expect a standard 4-foot long 40-watt tube fluorescent to contain perhaps four times as much mercury as a 9-watt CFL (the "40W-incandescent equiv."). The CFL considered equivalent to a 100W incandescent is about 25W, so about half the mercury of the 4-foot 40-watt fluorescent tube.
That approximation is "with all other things being equal". They're not -- CFLs are in general designed to use less mercury than the older styles of bulbs, for the same output, in that they only use enough mercury to last the expected lifetime of the bulb, with no excess. Older bulbs were typically manufactured with extra mercury. How much extra? I don't know offhand, probably could find out.
So it is NOT correct to merely count bulbs. A CFL contains much less mercury than a 4-foot tube. Unfortunately I do not have exact figures, because they vary with style of bulb, manufacturer, etc. But given the environmental regulations now in effect, I have to believe those numbers are available from the manufacturers as a matter of public interest.
> Admittedly, I have a fierce prejudice against the CFL.
I don't share your bias, largely because I have used CFLs exclusively for 20 years in my off-grid, extremely low-power-budget PV-powered house. I used the early OSRAM bulbs (awful) and Philips bulbs (also awful) and a variety of others (varied but mostly awful). But I have seen them improve over those 20 years to the point where I consider them pretty damn good, the last 5 years or so.
That said, I still prefer the warm glow of an incandescent for certain activities, and I am anything but a purist about CFLs. And I especially dislike the government forcing this issue, and resent it even though I'm already using the things.
Because there will be so many of them.
Your problem here is that you fail to concieve just how much mercury was tossed out in previous generations.
And we have not even touched upon the mercury in switches which used to be common.
We can use the liberals to try and plug up the volcanos.
It’s because they were cold-blooded. The destroyed all those useless thermometers and all hell broke loose.
I would have sworn that the warning was due to the beryllium based coating of the tube; not the small amounts of mercury in them...unless it was a mercury vapor tube.
How many Spikes are in an Iridium flare? Or is it the other way around, X number of Spikes/Flare?
My wife once told me I should stop throwing those new government light bulbs out with the trash when they burn out. (shrug) What am I supposed to do with them? Flush them down the toilet? (Of course, with these water-saving government toilets, I’d have to flush three times.)
Whatever... let scumbag government worry about it. I sure won’t.
> I would have sworn that the warning was due to the beryllium based coating of the tube; not the small amounts of mercury in them...unless it was a mercury vapor tube
Beryllium was indeed used in the phosphor in early fluorescent tubes. However, it fell out of favor: "...After it was discovered that beryllium was toxic, halophosphate based phosphors took over." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescent_lamp#Commercialization_of_fluorescent_lamps
The mercury vapor in the tube is absorbed into the glass and phosphor coating over the life of the bulb, and its decreasing availability for excitation by the electric current is what causes fluorescents to dim over time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescent_lamp#Loss_of_mercury At end of life (when the bulb is discarded), the white powdery phosphor is pretty nasty stuff.
The warning about airing out the room where a fluorescent bulb has broken is mainly about the mercury vapor, not the poweder, and thus for modern CFLs applies mainly during the working life of the bulb, not so much at the end of life when the mercury is no longer in vapor form.
Standard old-style long tubes are actually worse in that regard, since they tend to have an excess of mercury, and hence if they fail for some other reason such as filament burnout, there's a significant quantity of mercury vapor remaining in the bulb.
Do exactly the same as what you do with a standard long-tube or circular fluorescent bulb. The disposal problem is exactly the same, and indeed bulb-for-bulb, the long-tube bulbs are considerably worse in terms of contamination since they contain many times as much mercury as CFLs.
So.... Do you have any standard fluorescent tubes in your shop, kitchen, bathroom? How do you dispose of those?
When I was a kid in the 50's, the method I was taught was to put the tube in a garbage bag, tie it, and carefully break the tube -- in the bag -- to reduce its size, and then throw the bag in the trash. No doubt I'll spend time in purgatory for that...
(Put up with about 30 seconds of singing before the mayhem starts.)
Which is least awful these days?
One spike per bolide.
Make a shrine?