Surprisingly, Big Brook in Monmouth County, N.J., abounds in shark teeth fossils. Contrary to what many investors might claim, the shark teeth fossils found here are not the result of Wall Street stockbrokers who commute to work from the other side of the Hudson River.
The shark teeth fossils found in New Jersey are prehistoric, dating back 92 million to 86 million years ago, to the Late Cretaceous Period when ocean water covered much of what is now the Garden State. The Cretaceous Period was the heyday of the dinosaurs, the time when carnivores like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops roamed the earth. It was also a period of great warming, when ocean waters were much higher than today.
Scientists today generally believe that the Late Cretaceous was considered to be a time of high atmospheric carbon dioxide, so warm that there was no ice even at the poles. A huge sea covered large portions of what today are the Southern and Western United States. Much of modern California was then under water, as was much of the Eastern seaboard states from Massachusetts through Florida. We find no scientist or political commentator who dares to suggest that the high concentration of carbon dioxide in the Late Cretaceous atmosphere had anything to do with human activity or the burning of hydrocarbon fuels.
This week the Supreme Court heard arguments in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, a lawsuit brought by a coalition of 12 states, the cities of New York, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., and environmental groups including the Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. The case is an attempt to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide as a dangerous air pollutant under the definition of the Clean Air Act. While the case is likely to be decided on narrow legal grounds, this is the first time that environmental interests have attempted to press ahead on their “global warming” agenda by the judicial route, arguing their point of view before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Carbon monoxide is clearly a dangerous gas which if breathed in any great quantity can induce death. Carbon dioxide, however, is a chemical that living animals (including human beings) naturally exhale, to the benefit of the plant world which absorbs carbon dioxide as a nutrient. Until recently, carbon dioxide was not considered a toxic pollutant. Then, the global warming movement currently championed by none less than Al Gore came along and charged that carbon dioxide was the key culprit, a fearsome “greenhouse gas.”
Clearly, the earth is a lot warmer today than it was at the height of the last global ice age eons ago. According to the Environmental Sciences Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the time span of the last 130,000 years “has seen the global climate system switch from warm interglacial to cold glacial conditions, and back again.” The ice covering the world reached its maximum point around 21,000 years ago, a time period termed by geologists as the “Last Glacial Maximum.” Arguably, we are still experiencing the same global warming period that has caused those great glaciers to recede over the last 200 centuries.
In writing “Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil,” co-author Craig Smith and I argued that global warming is largely a hoax. The real agenda of the global warming coalition appears to be a political agenda that is motivated by an anti-industrial undercurrent. The aim seems to be to punish the United States with the type of economic penalties imposed by international protocols such as those specified in the Kyoto Treaty.
The radical global warming movement wants us to quit burning carbohydrate-based fuels that emit carbon dioxide, rejecting out of hand an intuitive solution which may be simply to plant more trees. The scientific debate currently raging is whether rises in global temperatures are caused by human activity. The problem is that carbon dioxide constitutes less than 1% of the atmosphere. Scientists differ on important issues. Are the increases in global warming attributable to increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that result from burning hydrocarbon fuels. Are the increases in carbon dioxide observed in the atmosphere sufficient to cause the types of earth changes environmentalists worry about?
Geological time presents human beings with some difficult-to-accept concepts. Since the Cambrian Period 540 million years ago, scientists believe the earth has undergone five major extinctions in which 90% of all species died out. Are mass extinctions like global warming in that both phenomenon that attributable to massive forces outside the control or causation of human beings?
Even more disconcerting, the earth may be subject to incidents of catastrophic global change. What about the giant comet Chicxulub that Luis and Walter Alverex hypothesized to have impacted the Earth near the Yucatan at the end of the Mesozoic Era? Was Chicxulub the culprit that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs? Or are University of California, Berkeley physicist Richard Muller and his graduate student assistant Robert Rhode right in postulating their computer model identifying cycles of mass extinctions that occur every 62 million years? The Berkeley computer model studied fossil records going back more than 500 million years. How many years of earth temperature data have Al Gore or the global warming political enthusiasts bringing this law suit before the Supreme Court studied to validate their theories?
Regrettably, there may be nothing human beings can do to affect the type of major earth changes that have occurred and most likely continue to occur in geological time. Quite frankly, even with our advanced science, we still do not fully comprehend the type of catastrophic forces that may cause major earth changes instantly or the cyclical forces that take millions of years to play out.
Yet, the Supreme Court justices deciding Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency would be well advised to recall that shark teeth fossils can be found in New Jersey. Too bad there weren’t environmentalists around before the Cretaceous Period began to argue the case before a prehistoric Supreme Court to prevent the non-existent pre-Cretaceous human beings from causing the great catastrophe of those rising waters way back then.