Q: Is there anything I can do to protect myself?
A: There are some things you can try. I will tell you all of the things that I am trying, to protect my myself and my household.
1) I had some centrifugal fans and activated carbon filters laying around, so I am running those non-stop. That would have been too much cost normally, but I already had them, so why not put them to use?
2) I got three ozone generators and I run them non-stop, spread around the house. The ozone should react away at least a good deal of any hydrogen sulfide that infiltrates the house, and also help eliminate any that might get absorbed into absorbent materials (like rugs and carpet seem particularly dangerous, because they rest on the floor).
3) I eat melatonin once per day, since it helps protect the neurology (it's used to treat Parkinsons symptoms, which is a neurological affliction), and because it helps prevent DNA/RNA damage, and the increased UV levels are surely causing some of that.
4) I surrounded the house, as best I could, with plants. Tree, shrubs, whatever. That may help knock any plumes blowing through to the ground, and the gas would then hopefully drain into the sewers and away from me. I was also having probs with plants not doing too well, or dying, so I surrounded their bases with bricks, which would help push any ground-level plumes away from their root systems. (And they all started doing better after I did that.) Indoor plants are also a good idea, if you can keep them alive, as they produce oxygen.
5) I spend as little time outdoors as possible, and I wear a hat when I'm outside, so if a plume descends on me, then the hat might make it run off away from my air intake systems (nose/mouth) and eyes. Also, I drive as little as possible and when I am in the car, I try to keep the windows and vents closed and not run either the AC or the heat.
6) I covered all my upper windows on the inside with Reflectix insulation and duct tape. Looks like sh#t, but it does actually help with heating/cooling bills, which means the central air/heat runs less, which means less exposure to outside air.
7) My outdoor central AC unit is elevated off the ground, on a pedestal, and is also on the side of the house most shielded from wind, which means it is less exposed to whatever may be blowing through in the atmosphere. I didn't do that; it's just fortunate that it was that way originally. And it's also in a kind of shielded nook too, and the roof doesn't slant toward it, which is again simply another fortunate coincidence.
8) I don't own a car. My significant other does. We only need one, and even BEFORE this problem cropped up, we were only driving about 2500 miles per year. Now it's less than that. She parks on the street, but the house is set back a ways, so it's not ever right next to the car. We have no driveway or garage and though in the past I have wished that we did, now I'm happy we don't, since they wouldn't be any benefit and might be a liability (especially a garage, which is like a small semi-vacant house with a combustion vehicle inside). We don't take the battery out, so we're taking chances with that.
9) Given the fire potential, I have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor (one in each room on the main floor), and one in the car too. They don't cost much, especially considering the potential price you might pay if you need one and there's none handy.
10) Because wood fences, decks and porches are now such a danger, I coated all exterior wood (in my case fence and small porch) with a sealant. Now I can see water bead up on the wood instead of being absorbed. That same anti-absorption quality should at least help prevent the wood from absorbing hydrogen sulfide or methane. Ideally, if I had it all to do again, I'd use that plasticky 'recycled wood' stuff, since it's nowhere near as absorbent as actual wood, or I'd simply forego the fence and porch entirely.
A reader submitted this information, as regards quick-connects for vehicle batteries:
"I just checked and a company named Wirthco makes quick-connects for batteries which are marketed mainly towards the boaters because they are frequently installing & uninstalling batteries. There are some on Ebay."
What you decide to do, if anything, is entirely up to you. I merely try to provide information, so people can decide for themselves what they want to do. Those are the things that *I* thought were at least worth trying, for myself and my household.
Q: What was the most important clue that this extinction event was happening?
A: The following article, titled 'Impact From The Deep', which was published in Scientific American in 2006, was critically important to me, and I highly recommend reading it. It is in PDF format.The article lays out some general steps that this extinction event is likely to follow, and I will reprint those here in case you have problems with PDF files:
Impact From The Deep
Impact From The Deep
(1) Trouble begins with widespread volcanic activity that releases enormous volumes of carbon dioxide and methane.
(2) The gases cause rapid global warming.
(3) A warmer ocean absorbs less oxygen from the atmosphere.
(4) Low oxygen (anoxia) destabilizes the chemocline, where oxygenated water meets water permeated with hydrogen sulfide (H2S) generated by bottom-dwelling anaerobic bacteria.
(5) As H2S concentrations build and oxygen falls, the chemocline rises abruptly to the ocean surface.
(6) Green and purple photosynthesizing sulfur bacteria, which consume H2S and normally live at chemocline depth, now inhabit the H2S-rich surface waters while oxygen-breathing ocean life suffocates.
(7) H2S also diffuses into the air, killing animals and plants on land (8) and rising to the troposphere to attack the planet’s ozone layer.
(9) Without the ozone shield, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation kills remaining life.
The authors of the article never seriously considered the possibility that this could be happening now, so there is little or no detail on how such an event might affect human civilization in the present. For example there is no mention of the copper reactivity problem, or the rusty iron/steel reactivity problem, or the neurotoxic effects on animal life (including humans), or the problem with biogenic sulfide corrosion eating away at steel and concrete, or the brake-friction and absorbency problem, nor any mention of the destructive fires and explosions. Also, though they do not mention it, we will see multiple steps simultaneously; step 7 need not be completed before step 8 begins and so on.
Still, even without the important details on how such an event might affect the present, this was a great piece of science here and without it, I never would have been able to figure out all that I have. It was the foundational kick-start that helped wake me up to the danger we face, and the authors deserve a huge amount of credit.
If you're going to take the time to read just one of the links I have provided on this site, I would encourage you to make it this one.
Q: Will a gas mask help?
A: Depends on what you mean by 'gas mask'.
Standard el-cheapo N95 masks won't help versus hydrogen sulfide. What does help is a full-body hazmat suit with a powered respirator that maintains positive air pressure at all times and is either connected to a known clean air supply or has its own attached canister-based clean air supply. If you ever saw the movie 'Contagion', the cobbled-together suit that the character played by Jude Law wore as he walked around - something like that would probably work. But obviously, any suit is a purely short-term solution. We need 'Plan B' habitats for long-term survival.