tagged w/ Hysteria
56 million years ago a mysterious surge of carbon into the atmosphere sent global temperatures soaring. In a geologic eyeblink life was forever changed.
By Robert Kunzig
Earth has been through this before.
Not the same planetary fever exactly; it was a different world the last time, around 56 million years ago. The Atlantic Ocean had not fully opened, and animals, including perhaps our primate ancestors, could walk from Asia through Europe and across Greenland to North America. They wouldn't have encountered a speck of ice; even before the events we're talking about, Earth was already much warmer than it is today. But as the Paleocene epoch gave way to the Eocene, it was about to get much warmer still—rapidly, radically warmer.
The cause was a massive and geologically sudden release of carbon. Just how much carbon was injected into the atmosphere during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, as scientists now call the fever period, is uncertain. But they estimate it was roughly the amount that would be injected today if human beings burned through all the Earth's reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas. The PETM lasted more than 150,000 years, until the excess carbon was reabsorbed. It brought on drought, floods, insect plagues, and a few extinctions. Life on Earth survived—indeed, it prospered—but it was drastically different. Today the evolutionary consequences of that distant carbon spike are all around us; in fact they include us. Now we ourselves are repeating the experiment.
The PETM "is a model for what we're staring at—a model for what we're doing by playing with the atmosphere," says Philip Gingerich, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Michigan. "It's the idea of triggering something that runs away from you and takes a hundred thousand years to reequilibrate."
Gingerich and other paleontologists discovered the profound evolutionary change at the end of the Paleocene long before its cause was traced to carbon. For 40 years now Gingerich has been hunting fossils from the period in the Bighorn Basin, a hundred-mile-long arid plateau just east of Yellowstone National Park in northern Wyoming. Mostly he digs into the flanks of a long, narrow mesa called Polecat Bench, which juts into the northern edge of the basin. Polecat has become his second home: He owns a small farmhouse within sight of it.
One summer afternoon Gingerich and I drove in his sky blue '78 Suburban up a dirt track to the top of the bench and on out to its southern tip, which affords a fine view of the irrigated fields and scattered oil wells that surround it. During the recent ice ages, he explained, Polecat Bench was the bed of the Shoshone River, which paved it with cobbles. At some point the river shifted east and began cutting its way down through the softer and more ancient sediments that fill the Bighorn Basin. Meanwhile the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River was doing the same to the west. Polecat Bench now stands between the two rivers, rising 500 feet above their valleys. Over the millennia its flanks have been sculpted by winter wind and summer gully washers into rugged badlands, exposing a layer cake of sediments. Sediments from the PETM are exposed right at the very southern tip of the bench.
It is here that Gingerich has documented a great mammalian explosion. Halfway down the slope a band of red sediment, about a hundred feet thick, wraps around the folds and gullies, vivid as the stripe on a candy cane. In that band Gingerich discovered fossils of the oldest odd-toed hoofed mammals, even-toed hoofed mammals, and true primates: in other words, the first members of the orders that now include, respectively, horses, cows, and humans. Similar fossils have since been found in Asia and Europe. They appear everywhere, and as if out of nowhere. Nine million years after an asteroid slammed into the Yucatán Peninsula, setting off a cataclysm that most scientists now believe wiped out the dinosaurs, the Earth seems to have undergone another shock to the system.
During the first two decades that Gingerich labored to document the Paleocene-Eocene transition, most scientists saw it simply as a time when one set of fossils gave way to another. That perception started to change in 1991, when two oceanographers, James Kennett and Lowell Stott, analyzed carbon isotopes—different forms of the carbon atom—in a sediment core extracted from the Atlantic seafloor near Antarctica. Right at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary a dramatic shift in the ratio of isotopes in fossils of minuscule organisms called foraminifera (forams for short) indicated that an immense amount of "fresh" carbon had flooded into the ocean in as little as a few centuries. It would have spread into the atmosphere too, and there, as carbon dioxide, it would have trapped solar heat and warmed the planet. Oxygen isotopes in the forams indicated that the whole ocean had warmed, from the surface right down to the bottom mud, where most of the forams lived.
In the early 1990s the same signs of a planetary convulsion began turning up on Polecat Bench. Two young scientists, Paul Koch of the Carnegie Institution and James Zachos, then at the University of Michigan, collected half-inch clumps of carbonate-rich soil from each of the sediment layers. They also collected teeth of a primitive mammal called Phenacodus. When Koch and Zachos analyzed the carbon isotope ratios in the soil and the tooth enamel, they found the same carbon spike seen in the forams. It was becoming clear that the PETM had been a global warming episode that had affected not just obscure sea organisms but also big, charismatic land animals. And scientists saw that they could use the carbon spike—the telltale stamp of a global greenhouse gas release—to identify the PETM in rocks all over the world.
Where did all the carbon come from? We know the source of the excess carbon now pouring into the atmosphere: us. But there were no humans around 56 million years ago, much less cars and power plants. Many sources have been suggested for the PETM carbon spike, and given the amount of carbon, it likely came from more than one. At the end of the Paleocene, Europe and Greenland were pulling apart and opening the North Atlantic, resulting in massive volcanic eruptions that could have cooked carbon dioxide out of organic sediments on the seafloor, though probably not fast enough to explain the isotope spikes. Wildfires might have burned through Paleocene peat deposits, although so far soot from such fires has not turned up in sediment cores. A giant comet smashing into carbonate rocks also could have released a lot of carbon very quickly, but as yet there is no direct evidence of such an impact.
The oldest and still the most popular hypothesis is that much of the carbon came from large deposits of methane hydrate, a peculiar, icelike compound that consists of water molecules forming a cage around a single molecule of methane. Hydrates are stable only in a narrow band of cold temperatures and high pressures; large deposits of them are found today under the Arctic tundra and under the seafloor, on the slopes that link the continental shelves to the deep abyssal plains. At the PETM an initial warming from somewhere—perhaps the volcanoes, perhaps slight fluctuations in Earth's orbit that exposed parts of it to more sunlight—might have melted hydrates and allowed methane molecules to slip from their cages and bubble into the atmosphere.
more at link56 million years ago a mysterious surge of carbon into the atmosphere sent global... more
Two Frack Off activists who climbed the Blackpool Tower to raise awareness about the controversial test drilling for shale gas a.k.a. fracking in Lancashire, are today on trail for aggravated trespass. On 6 August Current was on location to film the climb and interview the activists as part of our campaign to raise awareness for the Oscar nominated film Gasland, which is currently showing on Current.
The defence lawyers for the two activist on trail, Rob Basto and Robyn Monaghan, have asked Current to submit our footage from the day to the court to prove that the climb was not aggravated trespass but a publicity stunt to gain media and public attention to launch the Frack Off website and to obtain media coverage.Rob Basto, one of the climbers said, “It’s vital that people are able to highlight issues such as Fracking that pose such a huge risk to the environment and society in general”Robyn Monaghan, also on trial, said, “People in the Lancashire area should be seriously concerned. This is a completely unregulated corporate experiment. It is unacceptable and morally bankrupt that a private company can put something as sacred as people’s health and our shared environment at risk in the search for short-term profits”.
Two Frack Off activists who climbed the Blackpool Tower to raise awareness... more
I have a feeling God doesn't want to talk to you Rick Perry, or answer your prayer. Could that be because you are an ignorant closeminded anti-science fool? Or at least, playing one for the cameras for your oily benefactors? Yes, a phony now using all of these conservative talking points to feed your own personal ambitions while your state burns. Nero would be proud of you. I wonder, do you even know how to read a map?
You must know what 'global warming' is. Afterall, you did work as the Texas chairperson for Al Gore's campaign in 1988 when you were playing a Democrat. But even regarding that, you lied and stated he never spoke about global warming then when it was one of the main issues of his platform. I even have a video of him speaking about it on NOVA in 1983... just for the record, that's before 1988. Al Gore has been out here for over thirty years reporting on what REAL scientists are saying Mr. Perry. Not out here spouting fairy tales. And it's those fairy tales you spout that have now led to your state by the looks of it going over a tipping point.
Your economy has lost billions, your agriculture is decimated, your people's livelihoods are being ruined with their futures unknown and biodiversity will suffer for decades. But let's just go out on the campaign trail and tell those same people who are losing it all that even their social security is unconstitutional and you will take that away from them too. Face it Mr. Perry, you are a failure of a leader and pointing the finger and blaming climate scientists for your ignorance isn't going to change that reality one iota. Take a look at the map Mr. Perry and don't wonder why God has your call on hold. Even (he) respects science.I have a feeling God doesn't want to talk to you Rick Perry, or answer your... more
A reminder that those who want to get rid of Medicare now are the same ones who got hysterical over it in 1962. Coincidence?A reminder that those who want to get rid of Medicare now are the same ones who got... more
In case you haven't noticed, today's feature release is serving up some major upgrades to our commenting system. Discussions on Current.com are extremely important to us, and we've come up with a few updates to existing functionality as well as some new enhancements that will help pave the way for the months to come.
Let's take a quick tour:
Comment Voting: That's right, comment voting is now officially implemented on Current.com.
Each comment will have an individual score based on the aggregate count of votes, so for example: If a comment has 51 votes up, and 52 votes down, a "-1" will display. So, what are you waiting for? Reward some discussion-driving folks by giving them a coveted vote up. Find someone detracting from the discussion at hand? Give 'em a vote down.
Sorting Options: Why not offer some alternative ways to sort comments?
We're changing the default sort on all threads to "Newest" first, this way you'll always see the latest discussions on the main landing page. But, for those of you who prefer to read threads in the order in which they developed, you can always sort by "Oldest" as well. And since we implemented comment voting, it would be a travesty not to offer a sort by "Popular" option. We think this will be an interesting way to find new and insightful commentary on Current.com threads as our discussions develop. Try it out!
[UPDATE] There has been some concerns about the switch from "Oldest" to "Newest" sorting, and I thought it would be best to clarify. For this iteration we are setting our sort to "Newest" for all threads, but we are investigating ways to store your preferred sort in a cookie. This means if you prefer one sort over the others, you will be able to make these stick across the site.
Replies and Pagination: We've made a couple important changes to the way that replies and pagination works on Current.com.
All reply threads are now "open" as a default, you are no longer restricted to replying only to the original commenter, and we've changed some of the design aspects for replies as well. In our older system, any time you reply to someone on a thread you were automatically replying to the first comment on the thread. Now you can elect a person to reply to, and their name will appear at the beginning of your comment. You'll also notice that replies longer indent on discussion threads -- instead, the avatars in reply comments are slightly smaller in size.
These decisions were largely made to help facilitate the ability to sort by popular. For example, a reply to a thread could be more popular than all of the comments on the entire thread. This allows us to display each comment ranked on popularity, while still retaining it's reply status.
Additionally, we've done away with pagination. That's right, each comment now loads by default, which means your scrolling finger will now be ready for a workout.
[UPDATE] How do I edit and reply to comments? Our admin controls for commenting are now hidden when reading through threads. When you mouse over a comment, you should see the vote buttons light up, as well as a "reply" button below the posted comment. If you happen to be the comment author, you should see both "edit" and "delete" functionality in this mouse over state.
[UPDATE] There seems to be some confusion around our decision to default to open threads without pagination, so let me clear a few things up. First, going this route actually fixes one of the bigger issues we've had since introducing threaded commenting -- broken email links. Now when you receive a comment notification email, the link you receive will actually direct you to the comment in line. Giving you the preference to hide replies on threads is something we are investigating, but there are some hurdles involved in accomplishing this without re-breaking our email notifications.
[UPDATE] Questions about the comments that have been removed from commenting threads have been popping up. We're now displaying wherever a comment is removed, and this includes comments removed as violations of community guidelines as well as comments removed by the original poster. Why? Well, whenever a comment needs to be removed, the replies to that comment often have to be pulled as well. By showing that a comment was removed, the replies can stay live as long as they meet our community guidelines. Eventually we would like to add additional clarification between removals for abuse purposes, and removals by the original comment author.
Like the changes? Have some feedback? Please be sure to share your reactions in the comments below, and if you notice any bugs or have any recommendations visit our Get Satisfaction support page and leave us some feedback.
In case you haven't noticed, today's... more
When President Obama declared the swine-flu outbreak a national emergency, he tapped into America’s time-honored tendency to freak out.When President Obama declared the swine-flu outbreak a national emergency, he tapped... more
Although women today use vibrators for sexual pleasure, the Victorians invented them for a very different reason...Although women today use vibrators for sexual pleasure, the Victorians invented them... more
I was in a bookshop the Sunday before last when my other half noticed a toddler running away from his mother, who had her back turned. The boy was moving fast towards the front door and the busy high street, so I chased after him and, just as he was about to make it to no man’s land, picked him up.
And then, for a split second, I was terrified that everyone in the shop would stop and stare at me, someone would shout “paedo!”, and before long a portable gallows would be improvised using various Swedish furniture parts.
The mother was very grateful, as it happened, but maybe it was because she was from overseas and had not picked up that strange British obsession with paedophilia.
The English language really needs a word to describe all those hundreds of small things that make life in the UK so needlessly unpleasant, such as overzealous parking attendants or overseas call centres or the Jeremy Kyle Show. And paedo-hysteria is certainly one of the more unpleasant ones.
This seedy and weird prurience really became noticeable at the start of the decade, when mobs in places like Portsmouth descended on suspected child molesters who had allegedly been placed in the area, whipped up by hysterical tabloid newspapers. What struck me was the site of 8 and 9-year-old girls in boob tubes carrying banners that said “Kill the pidofiles!” Only in Britain – a child dressed like a lap-dancer protesting against paedophilia.
The paedo-mania was an exercise in displacement by the British working-class, who had recently adopted wholesale fatherlessness and a consumer youth culture that glorified in child sexualisation. Mysterious nonces in dirty macs became suitable bogey figures, when sexual abuse of children was far, far more likely to happen in broken homes at the hands of a mother’s boyfriend.
At its worst this atmosphere makes people reluctant to discipline strangers’ children and puts men off becoming primary school teachers, but on an everyday level it burns out those invisible bonds that make a society. And what makes it more offensive is that it is encouraged by petty officialdom such as that displayed in Edinburgh.I was in a bookshop the Sunday before last when my other half noticed a toddler... more
As the number of swine flu cases rises around the world, so is a gradual backlash -- with some saying the threat the virus poses is overblown.
By Sunday, 787 cases of the virus, known as influenza A (H1N1), had been confirmed in 17 countries, the World Health Organization said. The number of fatalities grew to 20.
"There is too much hysteria in the country and so far, there hasn't been that great a danger," said Congressman Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas. "It's overblown, grossly so."
Paul, who was a freshman senator during a swine flu outbreak in 1976, said Congress voted to inoculate the whole country at the time.
The United States' only death this year from the virus was a 22-month-old boy in Texas who was visiting from Mexico. The other 19 cases were in Mexico.
"I wish people would back off a little bit," Paul said.
Others shared Paul's sentiment, saying the fear of the flu has gotten out of hand.
"We have people without symptoms going into the emergency rooms asking to be screened for swine flu at the expense of people with real illness," said Cathy Gichema, a nurse in Pikesville, Maryland.
"Schools are being shut for probable causes - sending these kids congregating to the malls. How is that helping," Gichema said.
Dr. Mark Bell, principal of Emergent Medical Associates, which operates 18 emergency departments in Southern California, said the level of fear is unprecedented.
"I haven't seen such a panic among communities perhaps ever," Bell said. "Right now, people think if they have a cough or a cold, they're going to die. That's a scary, frightening place to be in. I wish that this hysteria had not occurred and that we had tempered a little bit of our opinions and thoughts and fears in the media."
Governments and health officials, however, say the concern is not unfounded.As the number of swine flu cases rises around the world, so is a gradual backlash --... more
1. In 1883 Joseph Mortimer Granville, a British doctor, patented the first electromechanical vibrator. It was sold as a cure for “hysteria”, a condition with familiar symptoms, such as rapid heart rate, sexual fantasies, pelvic heaviness, vaginal lubrication, impulse purchasing, etc.
2. When portable “massagers” began starring in Thirties porn films, vibrators were branded immoral. They didn't reappear until the Sixties, long after the announcement by the American Medical Association in 1952 that “hysteria” was not a clinical diagnosis but a female orgasm.
3. In 1998 the Rabbit vibrator made an appearance on Sex and The City and subsequently became, and still is, the world's bestselling sex toy.
4. In 1999 the sex shop chain Ann Summers launched online and sold one million vibrators in the UK in the first year.
5. For obvious reasons you can't try “before you buy”, but you can watch product demos on www.lovehoney.co.uk/sex-toys-tv , and read user reviews at www.lovehoney.co.uk/ orgasmarmy .
6. Because they are classed as “novelty” items, the plastics used in sex toys are largely unregulated. A study in 2000 by Hans Ulrich Krieg, a German chemist, identified ten dangerous chemicals leaching out of European sex toys made of jelly and rubber. Phthalates that are used to soften plastic in vibrators may be linked to cancer and infertility, but reputable retailers and manufacturers voluntarily inform customers about phthalate-free sex toys.
7. If you are concerned about phthalates, have sensitive skin, or are prone to yeast infections, choose elastomer, silicone, or glass toys, or use polyurethane condoms over jelly/rubber sex toys.
8. Women over 40 need more powerful vibrators, according to the psychotherapist Julia Cole, who designed the Emotional Bliss (www.emotionalbliss.co.uk) range. With 6,000 vibrations a minute, the Hitachi Magic Wand (www.loveshackuk.com, £44.95) won't disappoint. Check the intensity of the leading brand vibrators at www.mybodyvibes.com/ guidance/vibrator_intensity.html.
9. Buy the lockable Adult Toybox Sex Toy Case, £24.99, from www.lovehoney.co.uk to keep your vibrator away from prying eyes.
10. Two million sex toys are sold in the UK every year. That's a lot of landfill, so join the Rabbit Amnesty at www.lovehoney.co.uk/rabbit- amnesty. Send them your old Rabbit and they will recycle it, give you a new one half price, and donate £1 to The World Land Trust. Yes! 1. In 1883 Joseph Mortimer Granville, a British doctor, patented the first... more
Eight states have already outlawed salvia; Michigan is among 16 other states seeking to criminalize its use and sale.
Translated from Latin, the drug's name means "sage of the seers." A website dedicated to the plant (salvia.net) tells us that its "psychoactive properties have been known to the Mexican Mazatec Indians for ages ..." and that its effects range from uncontrollable laughter to a sense of "profound understanding" to feelings of "total confusion or madness."
"In recent years," the site says, "salvia has become increasingly popular amongst explorers of nonordinary states of consciousness."
Sort of like News Hits itself.
Earlier this year, the Michigan House voted 106-0 to approve House bill 5700, which seeks to criminalize use of the plant by classifying it as a "schedule 1 Narcotic," putting it in the same league as drugs such as marijuana, heroin, ecstasy and LSD. If the bill makes it into law, getting caught just using the stuff could land you in jail for up to a year, with a $1,000 fine to boot.
Although currently legal under federal law, eight states have already outlawed salvia; Michigan is among 16 other states seeking to criminalize its use and sale.
The legislation is currently awaiting approval by the Senate Committee on Health Policy.
The Metro Times contacted Speaker Pro Tempore Michael Sak, the Grand Rapids Democrat who sponsored the original House bill. Asked to explain the specific negative effects associated with salvia, Sak told us that the drug led to "extreme hallucinations, with psychological and physical impact." When we pressed him to be more specific, Sak instructed us to "go to YouTube, and look up 'crazy ass salvia video.'"
We hold the research being done by all the exemplary psychedelic experimenters at YouTube in as high regard as anyone, but we asked Sak if he could produce any literature produced by actual, you know, scientists with medical degrees and things like that. Sak, saying he didn't have any peer-reviewed literature to share with us, suggested we find some on our own.
A search of scholarly journals didn't help much. The Clinical Journal of Psychopharmacology tells us salvia is indeed a hallucinogen, and that its effects are strong. Little else is understood about this member of the mint family. ("For a minty fresh mind!" strikes us as a helluva good advertising slogan, however.)
There are not, as of yet, any rigorous studies showing salvia use leading to mental disorders or physical damage. According to the Associated Press, there's no record of anyone dying while actually on the stuff.
U.S. government statistics put salvia's rate of use among the population far behind most other illegal recreational drugs, such as ecstasy, LSD, marijuana, heroin and cocaine.
During our research, News Hits found a nice story about the issue by Neal McNamara in City Pulse, an alternative newspaper in Lansing. McNamara actually tried the stuff, but reported it didn't really do all that much for him. A little "light euphoria" maybe, but certainly no "purple dragons" or any other heavy head trips.
A major contributor to Sac's 2006 campaign was the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association.
According to information posted on the Web by the nonprofit National Institute on Money in State Politics, the association was Sak's No. 1 supporter in 2006, giving his campaign $5,948.
Why will no one stand up and say no to criminalization?
We have a voice and a chance to protect this and all of mother earths plants...
Join the conversation and add your thoughts by commenting below. Eight states have already outlawed salvia; Michigan is among 16 other states seeking... more
FIlms banned 20 years ago for graphic violence are back on sale, and the Daily Mail isn't happy. Apparently, some MPs have demanded an overhaul of the law after the British Board of Film Classification approved a group of previously outlawed films for general release on DVD.
The censors claim they are no longer harmful because of more relaxed modern attitudes towards extreme on-screen violence. Among the films recently legalised is SS Experiment Camp, Snuff - based on the killings by Charles Manson's followers - and Driller Killer.
Do they have a point, or are they just wetting themselves over films they probably haven't seen?FIlms banned 20 years ago for graphic violence are back on sale, and the Daily Mail... more
Let the witch hunt begin. Are you now or have you ever been an illegal immigrant?
Are any of your friends illegal? Relatives?
Michael Savage, who has the third-most-listened-to show in the nation, said the following on his July 2 broadcast:
When I see a woman walking around with a burqa, I see a Nazi. Thats what I see. How do you like that? A hateful Nazi who would like to cut your throat and kill your children.
When a woman wears a burqa, said Mr. Savage, Shes doing it to spit in your face. Shes saying, You white moron, you, Im going to kill you if I can.
Just watching the gardener!
Let the witch hunt begin. Are you now or have you ever been an illegal immigrant?... more
Orson Welles broadcasting The War of the Worlds. Adapting freely from H.G. Wells' science fiction novel War of the Worlds, Welles and his Mercury Theater On the Air actors recast the story as a realistic sounding news broadcast.
Orson Welles broadcasting The War of the Worlds. Adapting freely from H.G.... more
5 years ago
CAMEROTA: This actually has happened for many years in the past as well. An FBI sent out to local law-enforcement said that an al Qaeda detainee had given them some information that the next wave of terrorism could be in the form of setting wild fires. Adam Housley said lots of people on his block were asking him about it. Obviously this is something the FBI has looked into. They will continue to investigate it.CAMEROTA: This actually has happened for many years in the past as well. An FBI sent... more