Monday, June 05, 2006

Great Dying: space rock probably replaces global warming

What was the most striking event in the history of life on this planet that can be justified by geological observations? Yes, it is the Great Dying, technically known as the
that occured 252.3 - 251.4 million years ago; both numbers have error of 0.3 million years. More than 90 percent of marine species plus 70 percent of terrestrial species went extinct. 20 million years later, dinosaurs appeared - so their existence can probably viewed as a consequence of the Great Dying.

What is the explanation of the event? If you asked left-wing mainstream media, such as the Washington Post, which theory would they favor, what would they answer? Yes, it's always global warming. It's the same greenhouse effect that is going to kill all of us soon after we return from Al Gore's scariest movie we have ever seen. ;-) Volcanos were suddenly active for one million years and the species were dying. Why not? It's self-consistent. Volcanos can decide to turn on for 1 million of years if the animals don't behave, can't they? ;-)

There have always been people who said that a space rock had to hit the Earth, but no rock was ever found. The global warming theorists were happy and their politically correct theory could have been considered as the best one.

Alternative theories are based on some phenomena that look too slow to be able to kill so quickly - continental drift (Pangaea was formed 1 million years before the dying), atmospheric H2S buildup or methane ice that suddenly evaporated from the seabeds. They also include speculative fast events such as gamma rays from a nearby supernova explosion.

All these theories-not-laws are great - except that three days ago, Ralph von Frese from Ohio State University with Laramie Potts and others have found
in Antarctica - hidden half a mile beneath ice - that is apparently linked to the event. They used the fine measurements of gravity with NASA's GRACE satellites plus airborne radar images of the ground under ice that displayed a concentration of mass ("mascon") along the boundary of a disk (a circle) of diameter of 483 kilometers.

There exist possible alternative explanations but if the crater was due to an impactor, the new Wilkes Land crater was caused by an impactor that was 6 times larger than the object that has caused the
that eventually and probably killed most dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago and that created the Chicxulub crater. Needless to say, some people deny all the craters as the cause of anything, and they argue that the exctinction of dinosaurs - much like the Great Dying - was caused by too low carbon taxes that the dinosaurs were paying to the budget at that time. ;-)

If we observe relatively fast events that seem dramatic, I personally prefer explanations based on processes that are known to be fast and dramatic rather than processes that are hypothesized to be important and fast enough by politicized speculative science.

Climate modelers devastated

Incidentally, 10 million years after the death of dinosaurs, i.e. 55 million years ago, the Arctic was full of ice that eventually melted because of global warming. Shockingly, it was shown 3 days ago that at that time, there was already no ice in the Arctic at all. This insight all but destroys the climate modelers' picture of this piece of geological history, and reinforces the belief that the warming in polar regions is primarily an increasing function of the number of hurricanes.

Via Benny Peiser

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