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The Sixth Extinction (Environmental News)

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    Makes reading Last Chance to See even more depressing.

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      Very interesting piece from the Atlantic about the Fifth Extinction

      While the majority of her peers embraced the Chicxulub asteroid as the cause of the extinction, Keller remained a maligned and, until recently, lonely voice contesting it. She argues that the mass extinction was caused not by a wrong-place-wrong-time asteroid collision but by a series of colossal volcanic eruptions in a part of western India known as the Deccan Traps—a theory that was first proposed in 1978 and then abandoned by all but a small number of scientists. Her research, undertaken with specialists around the world and featured in leading scientific journals, has forced other scientists to take a second look at their data. “Gerta uncovered many things through the years that just don’t sit with the nice, simple impact story that Alvarez put together,” Andrew Kerr, a geochemist at Cardiff University, told me. “She’s made people think about a previously near-uniformly accepted model.”

      Keller’s resistance has put her at the core of one of the most rancorous and longest-running controversies in science. “It’s like the Thirty Years’ War,” says Kirk Johnson, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Impacters’ case-closed confidence belies decades of vicious infighting, with the two sides trading accusations of slander, sabotage, threats, discrimination, spurious data, and attempts to torpedo careers. “I’ve never come across anything that’s been so acrimonious,” Kerr says. “I’m almost speechless because of it.” Keller keeps a running list of insults that other scientists have hurled at her, either behind her back or to her face. She says she’s been called a “bitch” and “the most dangerous woman in the world,” who “should be stoned and burned at the stake.”

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        I'm going to get stuck into that article later. The Chicxulub theory has always felt - at best - incomplete to me. That even if the impact was a trigger, it should have been insufficient on its own, that there has to be a whole lot more going on. This is, of course, based on little real data and not much reading - I feel properly in the company of climate change deniers on this subject - but it just doesn't quite ring true.

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          Cheers for that link ursus, I'll get stuck into it later. Someone had mentioned that article to me this week but I'd forgotten about it.

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            A part of how these big name scientists get money is by creating two competing theories to explain something and then securing funding by promising to prove that one of the two theories is correct. A fake controversy, in other words.

            The K/T meteroite was a fuck off huge meteroite and it probably could have made the dinosaurs extinct all by itself. However, it is possible that the dinos were on their last lags anyway due to the volcanic activity. So the impact may have got them at a vulnerable time. Will we ever know if the impact alone could have done it? No. But that's not something worth getting angry about.

            My geology lecturer in Amsterdam was one of the guys who discovered the impact crater and if you asked him a question about the Deccan Traps theory he'd lose his head altogether.
            Last edited by anton pulisov; 20-10-2018, 21:32.

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              60% of all animals since 1970. That's since 1970, not since 5000 BC or something, that's in my lifetime. 60%. Wiped out. I can't even. There are an increasing number of days, and weeks, when I get more and more convinced that the end of humanity would be a positive step
              https://www.theguardian.com/environm...r-report-finds

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                Originally posted by anton pulisov View Post
                A part of how these big name scientists get money is by creating two competing theories to explain something and then securing funding by promising to prove that one of the two theories is correct. A fake controversy, in other words.

                The K/T meteroite was a fuck off huge meteroite and it probably could have made the dinosaurs extinct all by itself. However, it is possible that the dinos were on their last lags anyway due to the volcanic activity. So the impact may have got them at a vulnerable time. Will we ever know if the impact alone could have done it? No. But that's not something worth getting angry about.

                My geology lecturer in Amsterdam was one of the guys who discovered the impact crater and if you asked him a question about the Deccan Traps theory he'd lose his head altogether.

                Isn't "theory 'C'" that as a result of the Earth lensing the shock wave of the impact, the Deccan Traps erupted at the same time.

                (Or has that been completely debunked?)

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                  The Chicxulub theory has always felt - at best - incomplete to me. That even if the impact was a trigger, it should have been insufficient on its own, that there has to be a whole lot more going on.
                  I know what you mean, but I think that's at least in part based on our perception of time. "An asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs!" seems like a dramatic and final event like Deep Impact or Threads.
                  When in reality the people talking about this are talking in geological time. so the impact causes a "nuclear winter" and huge volcanic activity which dims the sun and acidifies the oceans and the water cycle, which lowers the surface temp and kills foliage which means megafauna find the going getting harder, which slowly collapses the food chain, which means that smaller animals (small raptors, small mammals, small winged dinos) start outcompeting them etc. etc and over a few hundred thousand years giant dinosaurs as we know them just sort of fade away. Which to the fossil record looks like a hard stop, given the unimaginably huge amounts of time that they were around. So the scientists say wiped out, meaning over a million or so years and our brains hear wiped out and process that as an immediate thing. Which it both is and isn't depending on your viewpoint.

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                    Originally posted by Guy Profumo View Post
                    Isn't "theory 'C'" that as a result of the Earth lensing the shock wave of the impact, the Deccan Traps erupted at the same time.

                    (Or has that been completely debunked?)
                    My recollection is that the latest evidence suggests the eruptions started before the impact

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                      Yes, there is a really fantastic recent paper about this stuff, which you can read because it is in one of the open access journals.

                      I like this paper because it is written by two youngish scientists who just used a standard PC and some basic programming skills to look at publicly available satellite data about the sea floor. They concluded that (1) the sea floor put down during the impact period (around 65 million years ago) is thicker, suggesting that there was a lot of volcanic activity going on and (2) when you reconstruct where the thickest parts of the sea floor were 65 million years ago, it was roughly at the opposite side of the Earth from the impact.

                      Like I said, these guys just used a PC and some freely available data and managed to scoop big scientists with their big ships, coring rigs and fancy mass spectrometers. Love it.

                      It brings everything together nicely, but the big scientists still need an impact vs Decan Traps controversy to get their money...

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                        It's my view that the dinosaurs were granted a vision depicting the coming of man, and decided they were better off out of it.

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                          Originally posted by ad hoc View Post
                          There are an increasing number of days, and weeks, when I get more and more convinced that the end of humanity would be a positive step
                          Don't be so teleological, none of this was really supposed to happen. Humanity was dealt a shit hand, like dying at 25 of your teeth and such before you had a chance to be eaten by a saber tooth, and we tried to make the best of it. Go re-read Hitchhiker's. Try not to have any more kids.

                          I feel you - this is just how I try to cope with it.

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                            The pictures and video from the Climate Strike demonstrations across the world are giving me some hope on a rather dark day.

                            https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg/status/1106439309605986305

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                              Yes, vitally needed optimism-inducing stuff.

                              Meanwhile, at the risk of seeming parochial and partisan, was struck by the absentee in this:

                              The Conservative party was invited to participate, but declined.
                              Today, youth climate strikers are demanding action on climate change. Our panel of politicians answer the activists

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                                FFS.

                                Are your olive products bird-free?

                                https://www.birdguides.com/news/mill...mediterranean/

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                                  [URL]https://twitter.com/laurie_garrett/status/1137496586362249218?s=21[/URL]

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                                    Another addition to the crimes of David Cameron

                                    [URL]https://twitter.com/crisortunity/status/1137746106396434432?s=21[/URL]

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                                      Originally posted by Nefertiti2 View Post
                                      Another addition to the crimes of David Cameron
                                      Conservatism kills.

                                      Study at the University of Bristol predicts thousands more will die in heatwaves if warming exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius

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                                        [URL]https://twitter.com/lisang/status/1139203723526152192?s=21[/URL]

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                                          Originally posted by Nefertiti2 View Post
                                          FYI- the carbon footprint of PV panels in the UK is negative, you're too far north, in too cloudy a climate. In other words, the production, shipping, installation and disposal of PV panels installed in Britain use up more CO2 than what they save from generating electricity over their lifetimes.

                                          The geographical PV CO2 breakeven line in Europe is probably somewhere below the Pyrenees, in America it's close to the Mason-Dixon Line (but juts up in sunnier drier western regions like Nevada or Idaho).
                                          Last edited by linus; 13-06-2019, 18:31.

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                                            Experts disagree with you.

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                                              Linus all worried about CO2 emissions.

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                                                Originally posted by laverte View Post
                                                That expert happens to be a fundraiser for solar energy. The life cycle estimates will vary enormously depending on how thorough the study is in including aspects like the carbon footprint of battery systems of the PV package, the full production cycle of the materials (starting with the mining of raw materials used and including the cost of disposal and treatment of toxic compounds like cadmium and lead) and the associated costs of cogeneration systems that have to be used alongside an intermittent energy source. It's a bit like the carbon footprint/energy balance estimates for biofuels, they vary enormously depending on how inclusive they are, and on who is doing the study.

                                                I am actually in this line of business, in real estate development. In the opinion of experts I've talked to, PV solar is, at my latitude/location, not carbon neutral. It's not cost-effective either, the best approaches from an energy conservation standpoint is passive solar, geothermal (for houses over 200m2 in continental weather like ours) and solar water heaters in that order. PV panels aren't cost-effective in my region, which gets nearly twice the solar energy as the average UK location, as well they only reach carbon neutrality further south in the US or in drier sunnier climates out west like the Okanagan Valley.

                                                https://i.imgur.com/vYpbh.png

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                                                  There's a difference between cost-efficency in comparison to, say, geothermal - which may well be true, and your initial statement about the carbon footprint of PV cells used at mid-latitudes.

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                                                    But I am glad, as Anton says, that you're finally on board with the idea of trying to reduce carbon emissions and finally seem to accept that they are damaging.

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