In “The Great Dying” 250 million years ago, the devastation came with runaway greenhouse warming
The geology of Griesbach Creek in the Arctic tells an ancient tale of slow extinction. Source NSF.
A reposted National Science Foundation press release.
The deadliest mass extinction of all took a long time to kill 90 percent of Earth’s marine life–and it killed in stages–according to a newly published report.
It shows that mass extinctions need not be sudden events.
Thomas Algeo, a geologist at the University of Cincinnati, and 13 colleagues have produced a high-resolution look at the geology of a Permian-Triassic boundary section on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic.
Their analysis, published today in the Geological Society of America Bulletin [abstract here], provides strong evidence that Earth’s biggest mass extinction phased in over hundreds of thousands of years.
About 252 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, Earth almost became a lifeless planet.
Around 90 percent of all living species disappeared then, in what scientists have called “The Great Dying.”
Algeo and colleagues have spent much of the past decade investigating the chemical evidence buried in rocks formed during this major extinction.
The world revealed by their research is a devastated landscape, barren of vegetation and scarred by erosion from showers of acid rain, huge “dead zones” in the oceans, and runaway greenhouse warming leading to sizzling temperatures.
The evidence that Algeo and his colleagues are looking at points to massive volcanism in Siberia as a factor.
“The scientists relate this extinction to Siberian Traps volcanic eruptions, which likely first affected boreal life through toxic gas and ashes,” said H. Richard Lane, program director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research.
The Siberian Traps form a large region of volcanic rock in Siberia. The massive eruptive event which formed the traps, one of the largest known volcanic events of the last 500 million years of Earth’s geologic history, continued for a million years and spanned the Permian-Triassic boundary.
The term “traps” is derived from the Swedish word for stairs–trappa, or trapp–referring to the step-like hills that form the landscape of the region.
A large portion of western Siberia reveals volcanic deposits up to five kilometers (three miles) thick, covering an area equivalent to the continental United States. The lava flowed where life was most endangered, through a large coal deposit.
“The eruption released lots of methane when it burned through the coal,” Algeo said. “Methane is 30 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
“We’re not sure how long the greenhouse effect lasted, but it seems to have been tens or hundreds of thousands of years.”
Much of the evidence was washed into the ocean, and Algeo and his colleagues look for it among fossilized marine deposits.
Previous investigations have focused on deposits created by a now vanished ocean known as Tethys, a precursor to the Indian Ocean. Those deposits, in South China particularly, record a sudden extinction at the end of the Permian.
“In shallow marine deposits, the latest Permian mass extinction was generally abrupt,” Algeo said. “Based on such observations, it has been widely inferred that the extinction was a globally synchronous event.”
Recent studies are starting to challenge that view.
Algeo and co-authors focused on rock layers at West Blind Fiord on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic.
That location, at the end of the Permian, would have been much closer to the Siberian volcanoes than sites in South China.
The Canadian sedimentary rock layers are 24 meters (almost 80 feet) thick and cross the Permian-Triassic boundary, including the latest Permian mass extinction horizon.
The investigators looked at how the type of rock changed from the bottom to the top. They looked at the chemistry of the rocks and at the fossils contained in the rocks.
They discovered a total die-off of siliceous sponges about 100,000 years earlier than the marine mass extinction event recorded at Tethyan sites.
What appears to have happened, according to Algeo and his colleagues, is that the effects of early Siberian volcanic activity, such as toxic gases and ash, were confined to the northern latitudes.
Only after the eruptions were in full swing did the effects reach the tropical latitudes of the Tethys Ocean.
The research was also supported by the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exobiology Program.
In addition to Algeo, co-authors of the paper are: Charles Henderson, University of Calgary; Brooks Ellwood, Louisiana State University; Harry Rowe, University of Texas at Arlington; Erika Elswick, Indiana University, Bloomington; Steven Bates and Timothy Lyons, University of California, Riverside; James Hower, University of Kentucky; Christina Smith and Barry Maynard, University of Cincinnati; Lindsay Hays and Roger Summons, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; James Fulton, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; and Katherine Freeman, Pennsylvania State University.
– National Science Foundation press release.
Last night in Mesa, Arizona, we learned (thanks to Rick Santorum) that birth control leads to more unwanted pregnancies. We discovered that Newt Gingrich thinks his best one-word description is ?cheerful.? We couldn't help noticing that Ron Paul (see below) has become Mitt Romney?s most valuable campaign surrogate. But there was one relevation odder still: that Santorum is (are you sitting down?) a raving moderate compared to that beacon of conservative consistency, Romney. It is no small feat for a formerly pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-universal-health-care governor of Massachusetts to transform one of the nation?s leading right-wing Neanderthals into an unprincipled, wavering compromiser of conservative values. But give Romney (and his wingman Paul) their due, because they?ve now managed it twice in one campaign. First it was that other Neanderthal, Texas governor Rick Perry, who?long before ?oops??was badly wounded by a barrage of criticism from Paul (and Michele Bachmann) that he was a big-government type and from Romney that he was a bleeding heart on illegal immigration. Last night, Santorum came under relentless criticism for basically supporting George W. Bush?s agenda in the Senate?for voting, as The Weekly Standard has pointed out, just like former Senator Jim Talent, the Romney supporter who?s been criticizing Santorum for those very votes. But as The New Republic?s Alec MacGillis pointed out, nothing was more audacious than Romney?s criticizing Santorum for having endorsed his fellow Republican Pennsylvania senator, Arlen Specter, in 2004: ?Santorum?s crime, in Romney?s eyes, is to have endorsed someone whose moderation resembled that of ? Mitt Romney.?
True, Santorum fell right into the trap, sounding for all the world like (perish the thought!) a senator as he defended his voting record. Today in Michigan?maybe too late?the Santorum campaign hit back with a striking ad compiling some of Romney?s characterizations of himself through the years, beginning with, ?I will preserve and protect a woman?s right to choose.? That might help?though it might also be too late. If Romney pulls through in Michigan next Tuesday, we might be witnessing the single most illogical outcome of a campaign defined by the illogical: the least-principled conservative in the field beating the staunchest conservative by painting him as suspiciously mainstream.
?Let's be clear about what Obama did, once in 2003 and twice before that. He effectively voted for infanticide. He voted to allow doctors to deny medically appropriate treatment or, worse yet, actively kill a completely delivered living baby. Infanticide?I wonder if he'll add this to the list of changes in his next victory speech and if the crowd will roar: ?Yes, we can.??
?Rick Santorum, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, February 2008
Romney is in hot water with women voters. Forty-five percent view him unfavorably, as opposed to 30 percent favorably. And while 68 percent of women think Obama cares about their ?needs and problems,? only 41 percent say this about Romney.
Alexander Borodin (1833-1857)Last week, there was no This Week In The Dream Antilles. And no explanation for that. Your Bloguero spent the week in hospital with his Dad, and then on Friday, February 17, his Dad passed away. He would have[...]
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The Occupy Vigil site has outlasted at least one of the Freedom-squelching Bill's sponsors![...]
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Since the tea party took over the HOUSE they have targeted abortion and woman's health care in bill after bill after bill.
First, congressional Republicans attempted to deny statutory rape victims access to Medicaid-funded abortions (twice). Then GOP-dominated state legislatures pushed record numbers of laws limiting abortion rights, including proposals that could have treated killing abortion providers as "justifiable homicide." Yet in the past six months, social conservatives have widened their offensive, and their new target is clear: Not satisfied with making it harder to obtain legal abortions, they want to limit access to birth control, too.
The first sign of the new assault came last October, when Mississippi activists and congressional Republicans pushed legislation on the state and federal level, respectively, that would have treated zygotes?a.k.a. fertilized human eggs?as legal "persons." If the definition of legal personhood is changed so that it begins when sperm meets an egg, hormonal birth control or barrier devices that prevent zygotes from implanting in the uterine wall could become illegal, making using an IUD tantamount to murder. Yet some 40 percent of House Republicans and a quarter of their allies in the Senate back bills that would do just that.
Then came Virgina's draconian vaginal ultrasound bill that even Gov. Bob McDonnell walked back on some. But obviously he's still talking nonsense on the issue because ultrasounds have always been one of the leading tools for the anti-abortion movement to wield . And Marco Rubio's bill is really appalling.
Earlier this year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a rising conservative star who's considered a possible pick for the 2012 GOP vice-presidential nomination, introduced a bill that could cut off birth control access for millions of women by allowing even non-religious employers to refuse birth control coverage as long as they cite a religious reason. In other words, if your boss doesn't want to cover birth control in the company health plan because he says it would offend his religious beliefs, he wouldn't have to?even if his Cialis was still covered. Rubio's bill could also allow states to refuse to provide birth control through Medicaid, which provides family planning services to millions of poor women.
Now enter Rush Limbaugh, the man who got caught with a prescription not in his name of little blue pills at a Palm Beach airport. He makes believe the uproar that the religious right has manufactured out of contraception is all a big nothing and mocks the entire issue as women across the country have stood tall in their denouncing of these fresh new attacks.
Rush Limbaugh on Monday laughed off the suggestion that the 2012 landscape will be shaped by a new voting bloc ? the so-called birth control moms ? as he compared them to the ?invented voting group? made up of soccer moms.
?There aren?t any ?birth control moms? out there. You know, the ?soccer moms,? if you recall, there really weren?t any ?soccer moms,? either,? Limbaugh said on his show. The conservative radio host was prompted by a recent POLITICO story headlined, ?2012: The year of ?birth control moms??? which examined whether the issue of contraception will have women voters swinging left to back President Barack Obama?s reelection bid.Limbaugh argued that Democrats are accusing Republicans ? presidential candidate Rick Santorum in particular ? of wanting to ban birth control in an effort to turn voters against the GOP.?Nobody ? including Santorum ? nobody is suggesting that we ban contraception, particularly at the federal level,? he said, according to a transcript of the show. ?This is a totally manufactured issue.?
He's so insulting, but if he needed proof all he has to do is look at Rick Santorum's dropping poll numbers with women in Michigan and cries by the GOP establishment to stop talking about this issue. Even the odious Doug Schoen has a poll that shows this is a loser for the GOP. Arizona Republicans know this is hurting the GOP because the CNN debate audience booed the question when it was asked by John King and the candidates were uncomfortable even discussing it. Woman certainly do not want to have their contraception controlled or even touched by a group of Rush Limbaugh type looking men. The outrage over Darryl Issa's men-only hearing was heard around the country.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called it an “assassination” attempt. Now one of the wounded journalists is reportedly in danger of going into shock from her wounds. The dire situation has led to discussions about an ultimatum for Pres.[...]
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As I noted on AMERICAblog Gay, the President's wishy washiness on marriage equality poses a problem for his get out the vote effort this fall.
The President obviously wants us all to get out the vote in November. But there are key constituencies with whom the President has great sway, and who are not terribly good on gay rights issues as compared to other Democrats. Why does that matter? Well, take Maryland. Maryland will likely see an effort on the November ballot to repeal the just-passed marriage equality legislation. Nearly a third of Marylanders are African-American. And black Democrats in Maryland are twice as opposed to same-sex marriage as white Democrats in the state. The Washington Post:
The new poll found a sharp divide among Maryland Democrats based on race. Among whites, 71 percent support same-sex marriage, while 24 percent do not. Among blacks, 41 percent are supportive, while 53 percent are opposed. Maryland has the largest percentage of African Americans of any state outside of the Deep South.The President needs to "evolve" now and come out (again) in support of marriage equality, at the same time the Democratic party helps us defeat these initiatives in the various states (MD, NC, ME, MN). Otherwise the two efforts, to get out the vote for Barack Obama and Democrats generally, and to support the civil rights agenda, may be at odds in some key states, and that's not good news for anyone.
ThinkProgress noted last year that multi-millionaire movie star Tom Cruise manipulated a tax break meant to help struggling farmers in order to pay just $400 of property taxes on his $18 million Colorado estate. Cruise was able to pay so little because he allowed some sheep to graze on the estate, thus qualifying the land as agricultural and making it eligible for a big tax break.
According to the Miami Herald, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has done much the same thing, letting cows graze on a plot of land that he owns, which dramatically lowered his tax bill:
Thanks to a half-dozen cows that graze Nelson?s 55 acres on the Indian River, he saved $43,000 in property taxes last year…The land has a full market value of $2.7 million, but the county tax collector uses the agricultural value of $210,000. That reduced Nelson?s tax bill in 2011 to $3,696. [...]
Nelson?s property may never have draw attention but over the years he has put some of it up for sale, netting at least $1.4 million. Three of the five lots were not classified as agriculture, according to records he provided to the Times. Two others were agriculture, as is a sixth lot he currently has for sale at about $540,000. On those, he has gotten the benefit of low taxes before selling at market value.
?I pay all the taxes owed on the pasture land,? Nelson said, defending the tax break. ?This pasture has been in my family since 1924 and it?s been a cow pasture since 1950.? But this doesn’t change the fact that the state lost much needed revenue on tax breaks that were meant to aid family farmers, but instead went to land that is decidedly not a farm.
As Citizens for Tax Justice pointed out, there’s an easy fix for this problem, as states could just “replace current agricultural land valuation systems with an agricultural circuit breaker that makes property tax relief available only to real family farms.” “This would not only ensure that Senators and movie stars do not abuse the system, it would also better target those farmers most in need of property tax relief — the farmers for whom the tax loopholes were presumably written in the first place,” CTJ noted.
In the weeks leading up to this Tuesday?s Republican presidential primary in Michigan, Mitt Romney has struggled to defend his 2008 editorial in the New York Times that argued against a government rescue of the US auto industry that the state is so dependent on.
And even while several newspaper editorial staffs have offered endorsements of Romney, many of them have included paragraphs criticizing Romney for his position on the successful Detroit rescue.
Or have they? The Romney campaign is facing a fresh round of criticism for selectively editing out paragraphs that hit Romney for his position on the bailout, as well as his job performance at Bain Capital and involvement in the Massachusetts health care bill. In endorsements from the Detroit News and Grand Rapids Press circulated to reporters covering the campaign and published on his campaign website, any mentions of Romney?s political liabilities have been removed. Here’s one paragraph from the Detroit News editorial that was omitted by the Romney campaign:
At least one editor is not happy about the move. Media critic Jim Romenesko reported that Nolan Finey, the editorial page editor at the Detroit News, was planning on calling the campaign to make his displeasure known. “They should have run the complete, original version,? Finey told Romenesko.
The Romney campaign has defended the decision by claiming that publishing the full editorial would violate copyright law. But it didn?t take long for a commenter on Romenesko?s site to point out that the campaign?s use of the editorial would qualify as fair use, and thus not be subject to any required editing. Not to mention the fact that the Detroit News was asking for the campaign to republish their editorial, as is common when any newspaper endorses any candidate.
The Affordable Care Act’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) is credited with providing comprehensive health coverage to nearly 50,000 Americans with high-risk pre-existing conditions, according to a report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services. The PCIP is a temporary program intended to make health coverage available and more affordable for individuals who are uninsured — and were likely denied coverage based on their pre-existing conditions — and are ineligible to receive Medicare and Medicaid. Once the health reform law is fully implemented, in 2014, insurers will be prohibited from refusing coverage to any American with a pre-existing condition.
Since its launch in November 2010, there has been an approximate 400 percent increase in PCIP enrollment — specifically amongst older uninsured Americans, who’s serious pre-existing conditions require more intensive and ongoing medical care — with the PCIP program attracting 8,000 new applications every month from August through November 2011.
PCIP enrollees are immediately granted access to the most basic medical treatments, including primary and specialty care, hospital care, prescription drugs, home health and hospice care, skilled nursing care, preventive health and maternity care, but because of the severity of many of the enrollees’ conditions, 78 percent of the total cost to run the program is spent on providing care for four types of potentially life-threatening medical needs, such as: cancer, circulatory diseases (i.e. coronary artery disease), degenerative joint diseases, and rehabilitative care/aftercare (i.e. radiation and chemotherapy).
In 2011 the Federally-administered PCIP served 628 enrollees with cancer, including 333 enrollees diagnosed with breast cancer, and covered more than 1,000 enrollees with a diagnosis of either ischemic heart disease or heart failure. Assuming that the risk profile of the Federally-administered PCIP population is reflective of the program as a whole, we estimate that the PCIP program served nearly 1,900 individuals with cancer and approximately 4,700 people with heart disease in 2011.
A recent study examined a sample of 1,485 enrollees in 10 state-based PCIPs and found that 18.7 percent of individuals had joint disease, 16.8 percent of individuals had diabetes or other disorders of the endocrine system, and 15.4 percent had cardiovascular disorders. The top five diagnoses or procedures by cost vary by State, but typically include cancers, ischemic heart.
Some states have had trouble getting the high risk pools off the ground and have either relied on existing state programs or offered patchy benefit packages“. The transition to the new pools has been less than flowing, with enrollment failing to meet the Obama administration’s projections, and while most states still have yet to exceed their operating budgets, at least nine have burned through their money and are currently requesting additional funding — Alaska has spent $13 million on just 45 people. Costs have also stunted enrollment rates, as premiums remain impossibly high, even after the federal government’s decision to reduce them in an attempt to appeal to more people.