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In the current issue of Scientific American, (at this point, the global warming deniers and Bush supporters among you might want to take a moment to look up the word that appears in front of "American." We'll wait.) there is an absorbing tale of the weird and wonderful consequences of climate change and the depletion of the oceans' oxygen on planet earth. Over the course of our planet's history, there have been five mass extinctions—periods when more than half of all life was wiped out. Only one of them, so this SA story goes, was caused by asteroid impact. The rest, scientists believe, were caused by climate change. Here's what happens: during periods of relatively rapid global warming, oceans absorb less oxygen. This in turn destabilizes the balance of sea-dwelling, hydrogen sulfide-producing organisms which explode in number and take over the oceans at all depths, creating a suffocating, sulfurous hell that annihilates all aquatic, and eventually, land-based life. Any remaining living things on the surface of the earth are killed off by the sun, after the resulting atmospheric sulfur eats through the ozone layer. The kicker? At our current and predicted rate of carbon output, Earth will approach the conditions necessary to trigger this delightful series of events at the end of the next century. It's only a theory I guess, but. Geez. The piece came to mind when I saw this Greenpeace spot from Publicis Mojo New Zealand, as did a memorable passage in Al Gore's ballyhooed book An Inconvenient Truth, in which the seasonal cycles of plant life and death are compared to "the earth taking a deep breath in and out."
Both of those things probably meant I brought a bit of baggage to the viewing of this spot. But I like to think I would have still applauded this as a striking effort and given the agency and production company due for eschewing words (and lectures like the one I've just given) and letting the earth's beauty and the sound of the most basic life function—breathing—speak for themselves.