Humans Soon to be Extinct... Say it ain't so!!

by Ryan Shoquist English 121 Dr. Gilliard November 23, 1996

Table of Contents





Ever since Dewey McLean (1978) proposed a dinosaur extinction theory
that states that a climatic change killed the dinosaurs, it has become the
single most accepted theory for the dinosaur extinctions within the scientific
community. It is called the dinosaur- greenhouse extinction theory. It says
that a climate change via the greenhouse effect killed off the dinosaurs. My
paper takes this proposed theory and relates it to the world today. Some of the
things that happened back then are also happening now, and if the dinosaur-
greenhouse extinction theory is indeed true, then we are also in danger of dying
from the greenhouse vertebrate killing mechanism, abrupt atmospheric changes,
and the other effects caused by the increased greenhouse effect and people
should know about the consequences of what we are doing to the earth. My paper
examines the similarities occurring in the two time periods and the possible
results that we may soon be facing in the very near future. I am hoping that
exposure to the inevitable danger that we are soon going to be facing, will
spark action and concern within whomever reads my paper. It is a problem that
we all have tended to shrug off and not worry about, but if we don't start
worrying about it soon, there will not be anyone around to worry about. The
time for action is now. We may still be able to change the future.
Humans Soon to Become Extinct? Can it be?
Roughly sixty-five million years ago a tremendous extinction of global
proportions hit the planet earth. This global extinction was so severe that it
has defined the boundary between two periods of geologic history called the
Cretaceous and the Tertiary periods. All but a few mammals on land and water
became extinct. (McLean,1978,p.1) The best known of these extinct animals from
this mass extinction are the huge and mighty dinosaurs. What killed them nobody
really knows and probably will never know, but scientist haven't hesitated to
theorize about it. There have been theories ranging from human involvement to
disease to even aliens. However, of all the theories of the so called K-T
extinctions, the single most accepted theory is called The Volcano Greenhouse
Theory. This theory states that a chain of volcanoes in India, called "the
Deccan Traps", released vast quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide
into earth's atmosphere trapping heat from the sun, (McLean,1988,p.2) and
turning earth's surface into "the hot, sterilizing, hell of a major greenhouse."
(McLean 1981,p.1) If the dinosaurs did in fact die from the Volcano-Greenhouse
theory, then we are also in danger of becoming extinct from the Vertebrate
Killing Mechanism, abrupt atmospheric changes, and other results from the
greenhouse effect that they too died from.
The earth is what is referred to as a "Greenhouse Planet". This means
that the earth is warmed by certain gases (fig a1) that without which our earth
would be as cold and barren as the moon, and unsuitable for even the most basic
life to exist. These greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide and water vapor,
in the earth's atmosphere trap heat from the sun causing the earth to be thirty
degrees warmer than it would be without them. (fig a3) (McLean, 1978, p.1) It
is this extra warmth that allows earth to harbor life.
Carbon dioxide was and still is released into the atmosphere
continuously by natural sources such as volcanoes, hot springs, fumaroles, and
geysers. The natural processes on the surface of the earth will absorb this
normal effect. (fig a9) Over long periods of time, the process was accepted and
became in balance with the earth. (McLean, 1985, p.1) Then a time of volcanic
activity arrived as the Deccan Traps of the late Cretaceous Period erupted and
the pieces had almost all fallen in place for a change.
Volcanic dust and CO2 was strewn into the upper atmosphere for a period
of around two hundred plus years. (McLean, 1985,p.1) This caused a time of
cooling on the earth due to the dust blocking out the sunlight. The dinosaurs
began to adapt to the climatic cooling from the volcanic dust very well. The
large body size of the dinosaur was beneficial on the cooling earth, because it
easily kept in their body heat allowing them to comfortably survive without
harboring their ability to find food. (McLean, 1995 p.1) It seemed as if they
were going to stay for a while.
Then the ash cleared and, that was when the whole process was thrown out
of balance. The carbon dioxide had been produced faster than the natural systems
could absorb it. Also, instead of