The Great Dying, Methanoscarcina caused The Great Dying

 Significance of Planetary Flatus

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Evidence that methane emitted by the single-celled Methanoscarcina caused the largest mass extinction on Earth.

 It is called The Great Dying.

250 million years ago

(only seconds in Earth’s long day)

90 percent of all species perished.


It’s blamed on gas.


Eon’s amnesia hides certainty,

yet experts say our verdant Earth

was broiled and poisoned

by these likely suspects:


  1. Methane clathrate,  known as “fire ice”  (hat tip to Robert Frost).
  2. Massive volcanic eruptions.
  3. Asteroids slamming into shale deposits, instigating a sudden Permian-Triassic fracking.


Now, research incriminates

one-celled Methanosarcina.

It bloomed across oceans,

converting marine carbon

into so much methane

the weather broke.


You who insist humans

can’t change the climate,

consider this microbe.

It waits on the ocean floor.

It waits in your convoluted guts.

It asks you to remember.


Last time

our blue green world

needed ten million years to recover.

Laura Grace Weldon


First published by Litbreak. Find more poems in my collection, Tending.