Friday, June 26, 2009

Your new favorite unstoppable doom scenario from the Department of Crazy Crap You Didn't Even Know You Had to Fear.

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.


Jeff Allard said...

Well, who could blame the planet for being pissed? Any revenge it wants to take on us is richly deserved.

Anonymous said...

It seems indignant and ignorant self loathing has become a replacement for virtue. Sad really.

Unknown said...

Now I want to see the 1970s-era revenge flick where Mother Earth cleans up the streets.

Brian said...

Well, I am just naturally misanthropic enough to find this idea rather comforting (and tidy) where humans are concerned. Mother Earth, it turns out, is more Joan Crawford than June Cleaver.

(Anonymous - Not to worry, Jesus will no doubt gather the virtuous ones up into the clouds before it all comes down.)

CRwM said...


You lost me. Do you mean the Gaia hypothesis included a concept of virtue? Or what?

CRwM said...


Would we call it "Big Bad Mama" or is that played out?

CRwM said...

Jeff and Brian,

But it doesn't weird you out that this means that "The Happening" might have just been suddenly promoted to "smartest horror movie ever"?

Jeff Allard said...

If it has, I guess I'll have to finally break down and watch it!

Brian said...

Not as weirded out as I would be if it were (say) one of the self-righteous, totally removed from any reality, "Left Behind" flicks!

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

My God, M. Night was on to something!

You Have Lost The Game said...

Human extinction movement cultists have to have their doomsday scaremongering event, and this is certainly the purest form of it yet. Even this sexily named Medean phenomenon is an illusion though, no different in reality (ie utter lack of it) from anthropogenic global warming or any of the other Nazi science concepts that the elite and their lapdogs use to keep the enslaved in a scared state between guilt and unconsciousness.

CRwM said...


Actually, Medean events are vastly different than anthropogenic global warming theories (or accounts that suggest large disturbances in ecosystems require unearthly influence, such as meteors) insomuch as the theory of Medean events presupposes that such irregular sequenced system-wide disturbances would be a regular part of the normal functioning of an evolutionary system.

It would be utterly useless to hold the threat of Medean events over the heads of the "enslaved" (though who exactly has been enslaved by biological science is beyond me - are you referring to the millions of people saved by modern medicine daily?) very theory of Medean events proposes that there is literally nothing humans can do about them. Protect the biosphere or wreck it, save species or proliferate them, pollute the planet or not - so long as evolution is working, the capacity for random mutation to cause a system-wide disturbance persists.

Strangely, you and several other Freepers have decided that, somehow, this is the "new global warming." And that's a shame really, because, if you apply even rudimentary comprehension skills to the article in question, I think you'll find that the theory combines a heart-warming mixture of Revelations-style fatedness and a rejection of Green-friendly interventionism that dove-tails nicely with your own rejection of science and the importance of environmental issues.

It could well be the greatest intellectual coup since the "discovery" of Obama's non-citizen status (which worked like gang busters for y'all).

Seriously, find somebody who understands basic science to explain the article to you. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.