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Re: K-T impact theory

nomen wrote:

<extensive and largely irrelevant attacks snipped>

> >So are we supposed to ignore the facts because a theory is too elegant
> >and emotionally appealing?
> Certainly not.  Nor are we to discard an unfolding theory, and dub its
> proponents "fantasizers," simply because we choose not to take the time to
> understand its present iteration.
> I speak, by the way, as one not entirely convinced of the veracity of the
> impact theory.  I am nonetheless totally convinced of the truthfulness and
> scientific goodwill of those analyzing it (and other theories) in hopes of
> coming to firmer ground in this issue.

I am likewise convinced of the "truthfulness and veracity" of those
advocating the asteroid-impact theory.

I am also convinced they are seeing what they want to see, not what the
evidence actually shows.  Not much different, in other words, from the
men wh  o accepted orthogenesis or coldblooded dinosaurs.  When I look at
the *evidence*, here's what I see:

In early 1815, an explosive eruption from Mount Tambora cooled the
global climate sufficiently that 1815 had a very poor growing season,
and 1816 was known in the USA as "Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death." 
Snow fell in New York in June.  Crops all over New England were wiped
out by a killing frost in August.  Wheat prices doubled.  All that, from
a volcanic blast literally half a world away.  Mount Tambora is located
in the Southwest Pacific a few dozen miles east of Java.  Later
estimates indicate that the said eruption ejected roughly 36 cubic
*miles* of debris, of which most fell to earth again within a few days. 
Only a small fraction of that stayed in the atmosphere and caused the
global cooling.  The Tambora blast and the later, lesser explosion of
Krakatoa are the basis for modern doom-and-gloom ideas about "nuclear

The scale of the asteroid impact and the ensuing devastation would have
been far greater than the Tambora blast.  This latest report claims that
eastern and central North America were swept clean of life by a
of at least several hundred degrees.  Then, the impact proponents claim,
dust and ash from firestorms caused global cooling that disrupted all
ecosystems everywhere on Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs along with
lots of other things.  

Use a little common sense, for pete's sake!  It was two years before the
northern temperate zone saw *any* decent growing season after Tambora. 
It was longer than that before the weather returned to anything
resembling normal.  And yet, asteroid-impact advocates expect me to
believe that a cataclysm a hundred times worse did *not* result in
complete destruction of all plant life, either by freezing or by
darkness?   They expect me to believe that those animals which have the
highest food requirements among all metazoan life -- mammals and birds
-- were among the survivors of this annihilation of the base of the
terrestrial food web?  They expect me to believe that a North America
scoured to bare rock by the impact's shockwave and firestorm could
recover in anything less than several million years?  

You can believe that if you like.  I won't.  Unless and until somebody
gives me a good reason.  Fantasies and Just-So stories don't qualify as
a good reason, and so far that's all I've seen.  I want to see some sane
and sober analyses that indicate the alleged asteroid impact could have
led to what we _know_ actually happened: massive disruption of
terrestrial and marine ecosystems, eliminating all animals over 15kg,
but selecting mammals and birds (among others) for survival.

-- JSW