Leading researchers at the DoCCYDEKYHtF headquarters in Gantsmouth, North Carolina (pictured above), have discovered the horrifying fact that Earth may be trying to kill us.
That's right, even as we speak – or, you know, as I write and you read, though, really, I've written this perhaps hours or days ago, so the illusion of contiguous presence in our communication is really more of . . . We don't have time for this! The freakin' planet Earth wants us freakin' dead!
According to a deliciously fear-mongering piece in NewScientist, the planet Earth regularly "flushes" its eco-system in an effort to rid the planet of destructive elements. Dubbed "Medean events" – named after the child murdering sorceress of Greek myth in a satiric jab (who says scientists don't have a sense of humor) at the popular Gaia theory – these global corrections involve, to quote NS, "drastic drops in biodiversity and abundance driven by life itself." In layman's terms, we're talking about worldwide, spontaneous multi-species extinctions.
Unlike "global warming" or "asteroid strikes" or any other of the millions of man-made or extraterrestrial apocalyptic scenarios we tend to focus on, the creepy thing about Medean events is that they do not represent a breakdown of the global ecosystem. They aren't the product of attacking mother Earth. Instead, the Medean hypothesis suggests that ecosystems regularly correct them in spectacularly catastrophic ways. Mother Earth has evolved to regularly slaughter most of her "children."
By way of example, 2.5 billion years ago, all life on Earth was microbial. The planet was home to a teeming diversity of tiny life. Because the life spans of these tiny little beasties were so short, the planet was nearly the Platonic ideal of an evolutionary laboratory. It may well have been Earth's singular greatest moment with regards to the sheer diversity of life on the globe. But then, some almost infinitesimally small subset of these mini-monsters evolved the novel capacity to photosynthesize: turning sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy and releasing oxygen. This evolutionary leap was an utter disaster for life on the planet. For an overwhelming majority of the microbes on Earth oxygen was a deadly toxin. In short order, only photosynthesizing plants and a handful of microbes that evolved to adapt to an oxygen environment survived.
The NS article has a spiffy timeline of the Medean events.
What's the take-away? You are not Mother Earth's precious and unique little snowflake. She's not really that kind of mom.