People have been very interested in recent reports that highlight studies confirming the theory that an asteroid impact killed off the dinosaurs:

[A]n international team of researchers, using the most precise dating methods currently available, have determined that while the asteroid impact wasn’t the only thing that wiped out the dinosaurs, it was pretty much the deciding event – and it definitely happened simultaneously with the extinction.

“The impact was clearly the final straw that pushed Earth past the tipping point,” said researcher Paul Renne in a press release. “We have shown that these events are synchronous to within a gnat’s eyebrow, and therefore the impact clearly played a major role in extinctions, but it probably wasn’t just the impact.”

And for mammal-evolved lifeforms, this extinction was probably a good thing.

However, was the asteroid strike the result of some Cretaceous era global warming?

A CNN anchor took the occasion of  a report about a near-earth asteroid approaching on Feb. 15th to ask if its orbit projection was a result of global warming.

From Brent Baker of NewsBusters:

CNN anchor Deb Feyerick asked Saturday afternoon if an approaching asteroid, which will pass by Earth on February 15, “is an example of, perhaps, global warming?”

Moments earlier, before an ad break, she segued from the Northeast blizzard to a segment with Bill Nye “the science guy,” by pointing to global warming: “Every time we see a storm like this lately, the first question to pop into a lot of people’s minds is whether or not global warming is to blame? I’ll talk to Bill Nye, ‘the science guy,’ about devastating storms and climate change.”

No, the orbit of an asteroid is not influenced by the temperature on the Earth.

I have always felt our nation would be better served if its press members had degrees and/or experience in the fields about which they wrote, especially when it comes to the science and technology so vital to our society. However, until that happens and to assist other CNN journalists, I offer two examples of massive extinction-level-events that were caused by “climate change”:

  • Snowball Earth: Between 750 and 580 million years ago, the earth became completed encased in glaciers — oceans included. Speculation is that this icing was caused by a lowering of atmospheric greenhouse gases to near-present levels through tectonically-mediated rock weathering, when the Sun was considerably dimmer than present. This glaciation wiped out the bulk of ancient life, leaving behind two groups of microbes from which all life is now descended. More information can be obtained from the Snowball Earth website (click HERE).
  • The Permian Extinction: This is recognized to be the most devastating extinction event, in terms of the death of complex life — 95% of all species were extinguished during this period. It occurred 250 million years ago. It is thought that a massive volcanic event in Siberia (essentially a bulge of molten material, instead of a mere hot spot) lead to a 5 degree C rise in temperatures. This temperature increase triggered the release of methane gas from its oceanic methane-hydrate form, and as methane is a “greenhouse gas”, its substantial enhanced concentration raised temperatures 5 degrees further. The toxic volcanic emissions and heating wiped out land-based lifeforms and the methane release then triggered the marine die-off; then, finally, the additional temperature increase contributed to the extinction of many remaining species.

Interestingly, humans were involved in neither of the above events.