Megafauna Extinctions

About 13,000 years ago, close to 80% of the megafauna were wiped off the map.  Mammoths, mastodons, dire wolves, giant sloths, and smiledons or sabre-tooth tigers all disappeared.  And Clovis points made by Paleo-Indians cannot be found in dig sites after 13,000.  What caused this mass extinction?

About 13,000 years ago, a climate change occurred, called the Younger Dryas, also known as the Big Freeze.  The weather got colder and dryer for over 1,000 years.  Typically, the megafauna had survived many climate changes over the years, so why was this change so devastating?  Well, it seemed to be rather sudden with temperatures dropping about ten degrees and large dust storms and draught killing off plant life.  What caused the Younger Dryas?

There are two major theories as to what caused the Younger Drysas stadial.  First, scientists argue that the earlier warming period caused a significant influx of freshwater along the St. Lawrence River to the North Atlantic that disrupted the current and conveyor system that moderated the weather.  This could have led to colder weather.  Second, some scientists have discovered nano diamonds and other extraterrestrial evidence in the layers above 13,000 years ago.  They have uncovered fullerenes, extraterrestrial carbon carriers, which were also discovered in the Permian-Triassic layer, which could be evidence of a meteorite or comet that caused that extinction as well as that in the Younger Dryas.  Actually, the second theory could be the primary reason with the influx of freshwater being a secondary reason.

The Wisconsin Glacial Episode technically ended about 11,000 years ago, about the same time that the Younger Dryas ended.  The megafauna had survived significant climate variations during the different ice ages over the centuries, so why did the Younger Dryas lead to extinctions?  The first theory does not provide a good answer, but the second one does.  The megafauna could not survive the rapid changes caused by the comet or meteorite that may have hit.  Where is the evidence of a crater in North America?  Well, since it probably struck the deep ice sheets that covered the northern part of North America, the crater in the ice would have melted.

No Clovis points have been found during the Younger Dryas period.  Folsom points dating back to 9,500 years ago were the next spear heads located in America after the Clovis points.  The 3,000 year gap is difficult to bridge.   The Folsom Paleo-Indians seem to have genetic connections to Asia and the Clovis Paleo-Indians may have a nexus to Europe.  If this is true, the Asian presence either was able to survive the Younger Dryas period or entered North America when the climate improved.  They clearly were the forefathers of the Native Americans that populated North America when the European explorers landed on the east coast.

If you examine the moon, there are hundreds of craters, so it would not be unusual for earth to be the target for numerous comets and meteorites over the years.  Most of these craters have been erased by erosion.  If the meteors were large enough, they could have had a devastating impact on life on earth at that time.

One of these was probably the culprit that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.  At the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary, when the dinosaurs went extinct, there are large amounts of the metal iridium, which typically is not found on earth, but is found on meteorites.  It is highly likely that a large comet or meteorite impacted earth about 13,000 years ago, causing the extinction of the megafauna.

Evolution for Afterlife

We are all familiar with Darwin’s theories of evolution during life, but very little has been written on evolution after life.  If you believe that there is nothing after life, then you will not be interested in this discussion; however, you might want to read this just in case there is something waiting for us after we die.  Since it is impossible to say with certainty that there is nothing after we die, it might be good to at least think about the possibilities.

You have heard stories about parents who wanted their children to have a better life and sacrificed their own lives to provide an education and whatever else they could to give their children a better chance than they had.  Evolution is a part of that process.  Survival of the fittest is one of the evolutionary principles that generally create a better and stronger species.  The weaker and less efficient members of that population die or don’t reproduce.

We know that Homo sapiens was lucky to become the dominant species.  If the dinosaurs had not suffered a mass extinction, mammals would not have had the opportunity to flourish.  And our species was nearly wiped out several times, but it fortunately survived the eruption of Mt. Toba and the ice ages.

So even though we consider ourselves as the ultimate species at the top of the evolutionary peak, this is not true.  Consider the source of that belief.  Our species consists of very fragile animals that cannot survive in extreme conditions.  The species has only existed for a short period in geologic time.  Our selfish tendencies will eventually doom us.  We would rather satisfy our individual needs than do the right thing to protect our progeny.  An example is our inability to preserve our environment for future generations.

We attempt to improve ourselves during our lifetimes, but our humanness limits our ability to evolve into selfless creatures.  Perhaps the best we can hope for is that we would sacrifice our lives to protect our children.  So, it may be that any significant evolution of man must occur after death.  Assuming that we are still conscious after death, we may have the opportunity to evolve into a much better entity.

The Bible indicates that there are three Heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2).  We can only speculate on these different Heavens, but there may be three separate tests for each Heaven.

The first Heaven probably is the obvious one where Christians go if they believe in Jesus who died for their sins.  But Jews and Muslims also know this Heaven as a place where believers of God are admitted.  Other religions and beliefs are not excluded from this Heaven.  This destination is not an exclusive club for Christians, Jews, Muslims, or any religion.  But your choices made during life may be a part of the judgment, including analyzing your actions as evidence that you actually believed.  So, this Heaven perhaps is the easiest to reach as long as you believe.  There may be a clear division between believers and nonbelievers.  The Bible refers to an abyss between the two groups.  Near-death experiences consistently refer to crossing over.

We apparently will retain at least some of our senses to detect this Heaven.  This is the Heaven that has been seen and heard by those who have had near-death or death experiences.  It probably is a beautiful and peaceful place, but still should be within the confines of God’s created, closed universe.  This is where we may see and talk to relatives and friends who predeceased us, angels, and Jesus and Abraham, all in recognizable human form.  This probably is by design so we will feel welcome and will not be afraid of unfamiliar forms and entities.  The face of Jesus will be comfortable and familiar to us, so we may see Him here.  But the face of God might be more hidden from us in this Heaven.

The second Heaven may require an evolution of spirit, going from selfish, centrist thought to “big picture” thinking.  In other words, you become less important as an entity as the whole becomes more important than your part.  This Heaven, more than likely, is reached through your thoughts.  You may find the mid-Heaven quite a bit more difficult to reach since there may be temptations in the first Heaven that impede your progress.  However, if you become one with God, you should be able to avoid selfish and prideful thoughts.  Some religions teach this unification, which is critical in order to evolve and transfer into the second Heaven.  Reaching this goal requires much more than a belief in Jesus or God; it requires a complete makeover of your personality, focusing on the universe that is beyond you.  I have no idea about the structure of this Heaven, but it probably is still within the border of our closed universe.  We may be judged by our actions in the first Heaven to determine if we will be permitted to transition to the second Heaven.

The third Heaven probably is God’s universe, which is outside our known universe.  The law of conservation of energy basically states that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in a closed universe.  So, God’s creation probably occurred outside our closed universe in God’s kingdom.  The transformation that is required to reach this kingdom may be of such a magnitude that I would be surprised if many souls ever made it.  In fact, the Bible, including the teachings of Jesus, is very clear that only a very few make the grade to reach God’s kingdom.

Pastors rarely will discuss the three Heavens and even less often will mention the difficulty in reaching the third Heaven, God’s kingdom.  It would be too controversial.  The pastors would be run out of town.  Most believers only want to hear about the first Heaven, which is the easiest destination.  So, ministers focus on how members of their church can reach the first Heaven.  It would be difficult to sell Christianity or any other religion if people had to work too hard at it.  So, don’t expect too many articles on evolving from the first Heaven to the second and third Heavens.

The significant evolution of our spirits must occur after we die.  My wife and I look forward to the Heavens as a challenge.  We will do our best and reach as many Heavens as we can.  We believe we have a chance to reach the second Heaven, so we will prepare ourselves as much as we can during our lifetimes to be ready for whatever happens.

If there is no afterlife, then all will be still when we die, and we will not suffer from our beliefs.  However, if there is an afterlife, then we will be well served by our preparation for consequences.  The free will that God gave us must have some significance.  As religious existentialists we believe that free will without the consequences of God would be quite absurd.

Also, it seems logical that a creation must have a Creator and that a design must have a Designer.  If I were an odds maker, I would say that it is more likely than not that there is a God.  If I were a gambler, I would place my money on God not only because of better odds, but also because of the consequences if you are wrong.  Even if the chances of there being a God were one in a million, I would still bet on God because if I’m wrong, it will not cost me anything.  But if I don’t pick God and I’m wrong, it will cost me everything.

My wife and I have taken a vow of abstinence for the past twenty years.  We will die without having sex again.  This may seem a bit extreme, but believe me, getting to the other Heavens requires extreme effort.  It will not be easy, no matter what religion and beliefs you have.  You must be willing to sacrifice yourself and your desires.  My wife and I study the Bible together as we prepare for our final days.  We are not perfect, but we work toward reaching the final goal.  If you get halfway toward your goal each day, you will never reach the goal, but you will keep edging closer.

It is interesting that many people do not like their lives, their work, their sex lives, their sex (male or female), but there are days when my wife and I find that we don’t like our species.  We apologize for this, but sometimes, we like our dogs better than humans.  In fact, we hope God has animals in the first Heaven.  We feel confident that the second and third Heavens require a complete transfiguration from our species into something altogether different and, of course, becoming a better entity through the evolution for afterlife.  Good luck.  We all will need it.

Stromatolites – Our Ancient Ancestors

Our earliest ancestor was a plant, not an animal.  This most ancient ancestor was a stromatolite dating back more than 3.5 billion years ago or about a billion years after our earth was first formed.   Stromatolites consist of blue-green algae that aggregates, creating layers.  Even though most of our early ancestors have gone extinct, stromatolites still exist today.  A large population is located in the Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay in western Australia.

Stromatolites were the most abundant fossils found in rocks dating to the Precambrian era, from the origin of Earth about 4.5 billion years ago to 544 million years ago.  Stromatolites became prolific starting about 2.5 billion years ago, releasing oxygen into the environment which set the stage for animal life.  Both plant and animal kingdoms diversified over the years, but stromatolites remained the same since they were able to adapt to many environments and did not require diversification to survive.  They formerly existed all over the world, but today they are endangered.

Over billions of years, both plants and animals evolved into large trees and dinosaurs, but there were many mass extinctions that cut off the branches in our family tree.  One of the most widely discussed was the death of the dinosaurs, which occurred about 65 million years ago.  The K-T boundary or thin geologic line representing the end of the Cretaceous and beginning of the Tertiary ages included iridium.  Iridium is found primarily in meteors.  This was strong evidence of when the large mountain of a meteor about six miles wide crashed into the Yucatan Penninsula near the town of Chicxulub in Mexico.

Scientists are fairly confident that this meteor caused significant stress on the dinosaur population, but are not certain if this event could have accounted for the mass extinction by itself.  However, if you examine the effects of the meteor’s impact, it might be sufficient.  The impact set off volcanic eruptions, massive earthquakes, and tsunamis, all sending dust and debris into the atmosphere, where it blocked sunlight for centuries.  This created a nuclear winter with temperatures plummeting.  There were wildfires all over earth, causing acid rain.  This sounds pretty convincing, but there is one more piece to this puzzle.

About this same time, a large volcanic eruption occurred in the Deccan Traps located in the northwestern part of the Deccan Plateau in India.  It may be the largest volcanic province in the world, consisting of more than a 6,600-foot depth of basalt lava flows covering an area of 190,000 square miles.  When the event occurred, some estimates show that 580,000 square miles were impacted.  This would have been a significant event, which when combined with the meteor could have been too much for the dinosaurs.

Some scientists believe that the Deccan Traps eruption occurred first about 66 million years ago, lasting for thousands of years, and then the Yucatan meteor smashed into the earth about 65 million years ago, causing a double whammy which wiped out the dinosaurs.  However, it may be more than a coincidence that the Yucatan impact area is on the opposite side of the world from the Deccan Traps.  If you place your finger of your right hand on the area where the meteor landed and a finger of your left hand on the Deccan Traps on a globe of the earth, these locations are eerily opposed to each other.

I don’t believe in coincidences.  I would argue that the time lines need to be reexamined.  It is more likely that the meteor stuck first, which triggered the great Deccan Flats eruption.  Whether this occurred 66 or 65 million years ago is not known, but it must have been closer in time than scientists believe.

Mammals were able to survive these events and over time, an animal called Homo erectus popped up in the east African rift zone about 2 million years ago.  These hominids were able to stand upright, so we believe that we descended directly from them.  Homo sapiens seem to have entered the scene about 500 thousand years ago, and the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens, which is very similar to modern man, can be found about 200 thousand years ago.

Our subspecies just barely hung on after the mega-volcanic eruption at Lake Toba in Indonesia about 75,000 years ago.  This was the biggest eruption that we know about during the history of earth, which caused a nuclear winter just like the Yucatan meteor and Deccan Flats eruption.  Our species came very close to being wiped out.  There were only about a thousand of our species that survived this event, which explains why all humans are so genetically similar.  After surviving the ice age, our species started repopulating the earth about 10,000 years ago.

So the bottom line is that Homo sapiens sapiens has not been king of the earth for very long.  In the great scheme of things, we should examine all our ancestors and realize that we are very insignificant in the great scheme of things, not only in the amount of time that we have occupied the earth, but also in our vulnerability to changes.  We have been very fortunate that we are right in the middle of a warm, moderate period, but will we survive the next ice age or cataclysm?  Time is really not on our side.

Extinction of Dinosaurs

It would be very unusual if one event or one problem wiped the dinosaurs off the face of the earth.  The dinosaurs were scattered around the world, so typically one activity would not completely annihilate a species that had adapted to multiple threats over millions of years.

Many scientists point to one event as causing the Cretaceous mass extinction about 65 million years ago, killing off all the non-avian dinosaurs.   That event was the resulting death from the impact of a meteorite about six miles wide, forming the Chicxalub crater in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  About half of the crater is on land and the other half is in the ocean with the center located near the town of Chicxulub.  The crater is more than 110 miles in diameter and 12 miles in depth, making the feature one of the largest confirmed impact structures on earth.

As detectives who are investigating murders will tell you, time lines are critical to establish in determining cause of death.  Clearly, the timing of the death of the dinosaurs and the meteorite’s impact was more than a coincidence.  The impact occurred about 66 million years ago, just about the time of the end of the Cretaceous period when the dinosaurs expired.  Geologists have even found a thin layer separating the Cretaceous and Tertiary (K-T) boundary, which evidenced an impact that would have distributed a layer of debris around the world that could have blocked out the sun for years, creating an impact winter.

This evidence is sufficient to prove that it was not just the impact of the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs.  The climate change, which killed off plants and some animals, would have also contributed to the mass extinction.

However, there may have been other factors that came into play.  On the other side of the world, the Deccan Plateau in India are one of the largest volcanic features on earth.  The Deccan Traps, a large igneous province about the size of Texas, is located in the Deccan Plateau.  These Traps were formed about 60 to 68 million years ago in pulses.  However, the largest eruption occurred about 66 million years ago.  Another coincidence?

Probably not.  The eruptions of the Deccan Traps had started millions of years before the meteorite crashed into earth, but the largest eruptions, which may have lasted about 30,000 years, may have been triggered by the impact of the meteorite on the opposite side of the earth.  But whether the meteorite caused the horrific eruptions in India or not, these two events occurred simultaneously, which would have caused an exponentially deadly environment for the dinosaurs.

Volcanic gases, especially sulfur dioxide, from the volcanic eruptions added to the debris kicked up by the meteorite would have caused a climate change.   Because of its magnitude, scientists have speculated that the gases released during the formation of the Deccan Traps played a role in the extinction.

This impact winter could have caused a sudden tipping point, so that the land-bound dinosaurs, perhaps already on the ropes from some other cause, could not recover as they normally would do.  For example if the creation of Pangea and land bridges allowed migrating dinosaurs to travel into areas where new pathogens and diseases would have weakened them, this may have set them up for the final kill.  Typically, when we stay in the same area for millions of years, our bodies build up immune systems that can survive well in those areas, but when we move into foreign areas with new pathogens, our immune systems may not be able to do as well.  An example is when Europeans brought diseases to natives in the Americas.

Even though it is not probable that one incident destroyed all land-based dinosaurs, it does seem likely that the dinosaurs were not doing very well when they got hammered with two major events, a meteorite impact and a super-volcanic eruption, that created the final, fatal turn of events for them.

Gibb’s Gut

A popular television program called “NCIC” has Leroy Jethro Gibbs as its lead protagonist.  He makes many of his decisions based on the famous “Gibb’s Gut.”  He may not know who committed the crime based on the hard evidence, but his gut instinct will point him in the right direction.

Homo sapiens will make many decisions based on instinct rather than reason.  This carries back to prehistoric times when our ancestors had to make choices within seconds.  We notice many of these instincts even today.

I will mention a half dozen things that appear to be programmed into humans:  (1) a startled reflex that awakens us probably dating back to when our ancestors lived in trees, preventing falling to the ground where a predator would snatch us up if we survived the fall, (2) a running instinct when we perceive danger, (3) sweating when we are afraid, perhaps allowing our ancestors to slip out of the clutches of predators, (4) getting “goose bumps” when we are afraid, which also stimulates our hair and makes it stand up, probably allowing our ancestors to appear larger and more muscular, (5) aggressive behavior, perhaps allowing our ancestors to compete more successfully for food and shelter, and (6) disgust with things that might carry disease, which would have been imprinted in our brains to protect us from contagions.

But there are two others that deserve additional study:  (1) a conservative approach that allowed our species to have a greater chance of survival in a predatory world and (2) a quest for security that also led to the same end goal.

First, man was programmed with an instinct to take conservative approaches to life.  By being hard-wired to avoid dangerous conditions, man had a better chance of surviving the predators that were lurking in the shadows.  Early hominids might survey the area for minutes before climbing down from the tree.  Early hominids might not wander too far from water supplies.  Early hominids might form social groups for additional protection.

The other subconscious adaptation was to seek security or control in a chaotic and unpredictable environment.  There have been about 30 billion species of animals over the life of the earth, and only about 99.9% of them still remain.  Homo sapiens almost went extinct about 74,000 years ago when Mt. Toba erupted in Indonesia, creating an ice-age, destroying both plant and animal life.  Humans were reduced to about 1,000, thus creating a bottle-neck for our species.  This is why all DNA in all humans is 99.9% the same.

Perhaps because of all the mass extinctions and the potential for chaos in the universe to extinguish our lives in a heartbeat, man needed to have a God to protect us from asteroids, super- volcanoes, polar reversals, ice ages, draughts, floods, and all the other potential cataclysmic events.

God may also exist because we are conservative and do not wish to gamble on what may happen after death.  There is no downside to believing in God, but there is a big problem if we do not believe in God and there is an afterlife.  This ties in to the second instinct to seek security.  God would be our security blanket, providing control in a potential world of chaos in the afterlife.  God is the conservative bet.  Even if the odds are a million-to-one against there being a God, it still is the best bet because if there is a God and you don’t believe in him, there are significant consequences.

Gib’s gut should tell you that you should believe in God since it matches your instincts.  We know that man has honored and worshiped God or gods for millennia.  This probably is part of our instinct to satisfy our craving for a conservative approach and security.

More than likely, there will never be any hard, concrete evidence proving that God exists.  The evidence will only be circumstantial.  The only proof will be what we find in our Gib’s gut.  One of our instincts, as we discussed earlier, is disgust.  We feel sick when we view a mutilated body.  We are disgusted primarily because we fear that it could happen to us.  We may be disgusted when we see dead bodies in morgues.  Again, part of this disgust is because it brings home our temporary position on earth.  We are disgusted if we have to face the fact that there is nothing after we die.  As existentialists would say, “We are disgusted because life is absurd.”  However, let’s take it a step further.  A Christian existentialist like Soren Kierkegaard would say, “Life is absurd without God.”  So we will not be disgusted if there is a God.

Thus, God appears to be a gut reaction to our living on earth.  We instinctively know that God exists.  Therefore, we are comforted in a chaotic universe.  Even if there is no God, the fact that God is imprinted in our minds is sufficient evidence of his existence.  He certainly exists in our minds, which may be the most important location for his existence if we are still thinking after we die.

Of course, we make many decisions during our lifetimes, and not all of them are based on reason.  Many choices are made based on instinct.  So, it is not unreasonable for us to believe in God based on a priori reasoning.  We can infer that God exists from his fingerprints of the Big Bang, DNA, and the controls within our universe.  If these fingerprints did not exist, then we would not exist.  Controlled existence is some evidence of a creator or God.

However, the bottom line is that Gibb’s gut tells us that God exists.

Tipping Points

Our earth is located in what scientists term the “Goldilocks Zone” because it is “just right.”  If we were not located exactly where we are in the solar system and in the galaxy and in the universe, we probably would not exist.  Extremophiles probably live in hostile environments throughout the universe, but mesophiles, like our species, need a stable and moderate habitat or they cannot survive.

There have been mass extinctions throughout the life of our planet with the Permian extinction having the distinction of killing off the most – about 90% of the species on earth at that time.  Some scientists are concerned that we may be on the brink of a sixth major extinction since plants and animals are dying off anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times faster than they did before humans came on the scene. 

Scientists at Duke University completed a study, published May 29, 2014, in the journal Science, that measured the rate at which species are disappearing from earth.  In 1995, the researchers found that the pre-human rate of extinctions was roughly 1. Now, that rate is about 100 to 1,000.

Stuart Pimm, the study’s lead author, said habitat loss is mostly to blame for the increasing death rates.  As humans continue to alter and destroy more land, animals and plants are increasingly being displaced from their natural habitats.  Climate change is also a factor, he added.

So, with the balancing point of nature being “just right” on our planet, it probably does not take much to tip the balancing scales to one side or the other, which will have devastating effects to those species which cannot adapt in time.

There are many potential tipping points on our planet:  (1) climate change, (2) ocean currents, (3) frozen methane, (4) buried black carbon, (5) permafrost and glacier melt, (6) hydrological cycle, (7) reduced sea ice, (8) draught, (9) bacteria resistant to penicillin, (10) proximity of sun, (11) proximity of moon, (12) volcanic activity, (13) pestilence, (14) movement of asteroid belt, and (15) other things that we may not even see coming, such as black energy and black holes.    

Although global warming focuses on greenhouse gas as the culprit, there are other more significant sources of carbon that would be more dangerous tipping points that would contribute to major climate change that might lead to mass extinctions.  These sources of carbon are black carbon buried in soil, methane frozen in water, and volcanic eruptions.  In fact, the Permian extinction may have been caused by all three of these releases of carbon. 

The most devastating of the three releases may be methane, which has an exponential impact.  As the climate warms, more methane is released.  As more methane is released, it causes our temperatures to go up higher than they would with releases of carbon dioxide.  This melts more methane, causing even higher temperatures with a tipping point being reached with runaway releases like in the Permian period.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, have found that there is black carbon only about six and a half meters below the surface in Kansas, Nebraska, and other parts of the Great Plains where ancient soils are filled with black carbon and plants that have not yet fully decomposed.  These carbon stores could be released into the environment via erosion, road construction, mining, or deforestation.

Erika Marín-Spiotta, a professor at UW-Madison and a coauthor of the study, which was published earlier this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, stated, “It was assumed that there was little carbon in deeper soil.”  Since most soil studies do not penetrate deeper than 30 centimeters, scientists had dramatically underestimated underground carbon reserves that could be released into the air.

Erika explained that carbon reservoirs in buried soils can lurk in a range of environments—under dust accumulation, in floodplains, in valleys, at the foot of slopes of hills and mountains and under lava flows.  She said they are likely to occur in many other parts of the world.

Marín-Spiotta said as much as 5.95 trillion pounds of carbon could be lurking in the depths of the Great Plains area her team looked at.  That’s assuming the ancient soil forms a continuous layer across the region; the researchers were only able to collect measurements from specific points and don’t really know what portion of the region contains the carbon-rich soil.

This giant carbon bomb could be released over the next few decades as we clear cut more forests and see more erosion in draught-prone areas.  We have already seen recent exposure to the atmosphere.  But for the subterranean reserves, Marín-Spiotta believes a number of factors are at work, including how much carbon there really is, how much has persisted since it was buried, and what kind of carbon is down there.

Though Marín-Spiotta says the buried reserves carbon don’t pose an immediate risk to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, but land managers need to take precautions, since the researchers found that the ancient soils are more reactive than was previously understood.

As with all tipping points, there can be multiple contributors to the final point of no return.  And these contributors can have exponential effects on each other.  We probably will not know when we have reached the tipping point, but our ancestors will not only know when that tipping point had been reached, but will also suffer the consequences.

Weather or Not, There Are Climate Changes

Some scientists argue that climate changes occur in cycles, not necessarily the result of temporal weather patterns.  For example, we had a series of vicious winter storms that struck the eastern United States in 2013-14.  On one day, all fifty states had snow.  This weather is not indicative of a climate change, by itself.  It may have been an anomaly.  So you may have bitter cold weather patterns interspersed during a warming climate change.

However, there may have been some interesting reasons for the unusually cold winter.  Typically, a Polar Vortex circling in Canada and the Arctic area, keeps frigid air north of the United States, but when there are unusual warming trends in the climate, this could disrupt the Polar Vortex, breaking it down, allowing cold air to drop into the deep southern states.

Many scientists now believe that man’s burning of fossil fuels has triggered a climate change that may be locked in and cannot be reversed.  Once the climate is tipped into a new direction, there are forces that not only continue down that path, but many times can accelerate it.  For example, the drought conditions in the southwest create more forest and grass fires, which, in turn, cause more soot to carry to the poles, causing “dark ice,” which causes accelerated melting of the ice. 

As the air and oceans warm, the most dangerous consequence awaits us in the cold depths of the ocean.  Methane ice is frozen at great depths, but it only takes a few degrees of warming of the ocean to trigger the thawing of the methane gas, which would create a global warming scenario hundreds of times worse than what man can cause with fossil fuels.  This warming of methane in the oceans may have been what caused the Permian extinction.  Once the blanket of methane covered the earth’s atmosphere, we would move quickly into a Global Winter for decades with most plants and animals dying off.

The new normal with our climate will be its extremes and unpredictability.  We will have more intense storms, more mega droughts, more ice storms, more tornadoes, more hurricanes, more flooding, more fires, more snow… more extremes in weather.

The Arctic has been our bellwether for climate changes, and it clearly points to climate change that is here to stay.  The ice is melting at a rapid rate.  Greenland is losing 300 billion tons of ice each year.  The Inuit hunters are not finding wildlife along the ice pack near their home because the ice edge is moving further north away from them, causing the walrus and seal population to move north too.

There is a theory that the ocean currents are being impacted by the new climate change, so that normal warming from equatorial waters, being carried north and south, is also being interrupted.  This disruption of warming currents and the methane melt could combine to cause our world to go into a deep freeze.  It sounds strange, but global warming may actually be the trigger for the next ice age.

Global Warming

Global warming has been a tennis ball bashed back and forth by both liberals and conservatives.  And as usual, they are both wrong.  Or perhaps, I should be sensitive and say that they both are partly correct.  But indicating that they are both partly correct is dangerous because the public has a tendency to forget the word “partly” and only hear “correct.”

Global warming may be a misnomer.  The initial warming probably will turn into global freezing.  As the ocean currents which maintain a worldwide equilibrium are interrupted by global warming, the temperatures become colder.  So the liberals are incorrect.

But the conservatives do not tell the truth either.  The increases in carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide have definitely had an adverse impact on our environment.  However, if you examine the earth’s history, volcanic activity has pumped out a devastating amount of these elements that has made much more of an impact on climate and our environment than manmade emissions. 

The real question is what is the elephant in the environment that nobody is talking about?  The big ticket item is methane ice located at the bottom of our oceans.  When the seas warm, this methane is released into our atmosphere.  Methane is much more hazardous to our environment.  Within a short period of time, it could reflect the sun’s rays, blocking our life support system.  Earth could become a frozen planet.   This may have been what happened during the Permian extinction when so many species were wiped out.

The global warming could be a triggering event that warms the seas to such an extent that the methane ice starts melting; however, that does not seem to be happening.  As the polar ice has melted, the ocean’s temperature has not dropped significantly.  But global warming could be disrupting the major ocean streams, which regulate the temperatures throughout the world.  This may create climate changes, causing more drought and violent storms.  Some areas may become deserts while others may be flooded. 

It is not likely that the global warming described by both liberals and conservatives will be our reality.  Global warming will more than likely lead to colder temperatures, which is different than what both left and right wingers are saying.  The more accurate prediction is that we will be exposed to more violent climate changes, which could significantly impact our lives, but probably will not lead to global extinctions.

However, that being said, it is possible that the climate changes might cause a shifting in the tectonic plates as the weight of ice is lifted at the poles and redistributed as the weight of water elsewhere on the planet.  Tectonic activity can result in an increase in volcanism, which could lead to runaway global warming which could easily trigger the melting of methane ice.  Now, that could lead to global mass extinctions.   

True Believer – Giving and Accepting

We humans are almost identical in our genes, proving that there was a bottleneck about 75,000 years ago when our species was reduced to about a thousand scattered around the world.  Some scientists speculate that the super-massive eruption of Mt. Toba in Indonesia was the culprit that nearly caused the extermination of mankind.

Yet, we are all different in how we deal with the gift of life.  You might think that Homo sapiens would act the same since the genetic material is so close to being the same.  But you would be wrong.  We are given choices, and we are very creative in how we make the billions of choices in our lifetimes.  That’s why our species uniquely decides to commit mass murders, to torture, to rape, to mutilate, to sodomize, etc.  There is no bottom in the depths of depravity.

But some of our species go in the opposite direction, finding religion and becoming better humans as each day passes.  Generally, these people thank God for His gift of life and accept His gift of life with humility and deep appreciation.  Then they accept God’s gift of eternal life.  Then some take another step to give His gift to others.  They pass on the secret gift of eternal life to nonbelievers.

Many turn away from religion since they associate it with cults and mindless followers or, in other cases, with extremists who will burn witches, who will become suicide terrorists, or who will murder under the guise of doing God’s will.  Even though man’s history is littered with these sordid tales, these faux religious leaders and followers were not true believers. 

A true believer is a good solid thinker and would never allow evil thoughts to prevail.  A true believer is a complex thinker and is not tempted to follow simplistic, hollow thoughts.  In effect, a true believer both gives and accepts with great thought.  A true believer gives of himself/herself by explaining the deceptions of life to others.  The great deception is that man is the center of his life, and is deceived into believing that he should enjoy it, taking whatever he wants, because he will soon die and there will be no consequences for his actions. 

I cannot prove that this is incorrect.  But, on the other hand, nobody can prove that we will not continue thinking after we die.  It’s possible that evil could consume mankind with no consequences, but there is always the question of what is behind the door of death.  Nobody knows with any degree of certainty exactly what happens in the afterlife. 

But a true believer would be prepared for whatever may come.  If a true believer is still thinking after death, all the anguish from poor decisions and self-torture will not come to pass.  The true believer has accepted Jesus death on the cross as dying for his sins, so will not think of them anymore.  Acceptance is critical.  Many people would have trouble accepting somebody dying for them, but a true believer does because that person knows that Jesus already gave His life for that purpose, so it would be a waste to cast this gift aside.  Also, it is the only way to completely eradicate the guilt that would pull you down into deep dark thoughts, leading to the gates of Hell.     

Mass Extinction is Our Future

There have been numerous mass extinctions on earth, but the most significant was the Permian extinction, “The Great Dying,” which occurred about 250 million years ago.  What caused this mass extinction? 

There are several theories, most of which center around climatic disturbances.  There were glaciations in the pole regions and desertification in temperate zones.  Severe weather fluctuations on earth occurred when the Permian mass extinction occurred.  But why did these climatic conditions kill off so many species?  We have seen ice ages and other weather patterns that haven’t wiped out so many creatures.  What was different about the Permian extinction?

One difference was there was primarily one giant land mass, Pangea, which was formed during the middle of the Permian era.  By the end of the Permian, the variety of species was on the downswing.  As a general rule, it takes isolated conditions to trigger evolution of new species.

Pangea was not conducive to creating new species that adapted to isolated environments.  We have seen extinctions when the continents were separated that did not have the same devastating effect as when there was only one continent.  Once the Permian extinction started, there were no new species that were available that could adapt to the weather changes.  Only a handful of species survived the Permian extinction to repopulate the world.  When the continents split breaking up Pangea, this triggered the development of new species.  For example, South America became the birthplace for the first dinosaurs in the Triassic, which did not exist in the Permian.

Even though the continents are separated today, our species, which is almost genetically identical worldwide, is overpopulating and is setting itself up for a mass extinction just as if we were on Pangea.  This is because Homo sapiens is homogeneous and exists as if we were all connected.  About 28,000 years ago, the Neanderthals, either a separate species from or subspecies of Homo sapiens, died off in Europe.  About 10,000 years ago, Homo erectus was last found in Java.  Neanderthals and Homo erectus went extinct, leaving Homo sapiens to stand alone as the last hominids on earth. 

There will be no additional hominids created as long as our species is globally connected and lives on the blue planet like it were Pangea.  Homo sapiens beat out the other hominids, surviving the last ice age.  Of the three hominids, the strongest survived.  There was true separation on Java, allowing Homo erectus to live on an island, separated from the mainland.  Today, there is global movement among ethnic groups, so there are few areas that are isolated.    

A genetic bottleneck in our species occurred about 71,000 years ago when a mega-volcano, Mt. Toba, erupted, creating a nuclear winter which killed all but a few thousand Homo sapiens on the earth.  Two points may be made from this event:  (1) this mass killing of our species is why our genetic makeup has very little variety today and (2) this shows how hominids prevailed by having multiple species to compete for survival.  But today’s lack of variety could lead to a mass extinction of hominids because there is only one point of failure.  The survival of the fittest only works when there are multiple species competing.  In our case, Homo sapiens, the last hominid, is vulnerable to weather changes.  Homo sapiens could be completely wiped out just like the animals who died on Pangea 250 million years ago.