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Blame it on the Comet

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Sixty-five million years ago, a plucky little planet named Earth was braving the third period of the Mesozoic Age. The first period was Triassic; then came the Spielberg...I mean, Jurassic (and you can bet your Jurassic, it was far more amazing than any computer-generated version). The third period was none other than the Cretaceous. Many scientists believe that during the Cretaceous Period, a colossal comet (or conceivably an asteroid)-perhaps 10 kilometers across-impacted upon what is now commonly accepted as the Yucata'n Peninsula of Mexico with the force of 100 million hydrogen bombs. It left behind a crater 112 miles wide and 3,000 feet deep.

The resulting tsunami and subsequent impact winter, so goes the theory, wiped out 50-80% of all plants and animals-including a flourishing species at the pinnacle of the food chain: Dinosaurs. The sudden absence of massive reptilian predators allowed for the eventual emergence of a little something I like to call "Homo sapiens." (That's us, for those of you scoring at home.) In other words, if you agree than we humans have not exactly been the most responsible species, well, there's a giant comet to blame.

I know what some of you are thinking: Surely, Mickey Z., humans aren't as dangerous as a T. Rex, right? To them, I ask: In all the millions of years dinosaurs roamed this planet, did any of them feel the need to invent, say, nuclear weapons? Is there a single stegosaurus responsible for conducting secret nuclear experiments on its own species? Nope, it took humanity to think up an idea like this:

Shortly after the nuking of civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. researchers set about, at any cost, to discern the effects of plutonium on the human body. "There were two kinds of experiments," says Peter Montague, director of the Environmental Research Foundation. "In one kind, specific small groups (African-American prisoners, mentally retarded children, and others) were induced, by money or by verbal subterfuge, to submit to irradiation of one kind or another. In all, some 800 individuals participated in these 'guinea pig' trials. In the second kind, large civilian populations were exposed to intentional releases of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere."

When word of these tests leaked in 1993, another solely human creation-the corporate media-stepped up to the plate with justifications like this from Newsweek: "The scientists who had conducted those tests so long ago surely had rational reasons: the struggle with the Soviet Union, the fear of imminent nuclear war, the urgent need to unlock all the secrets of the atom, for purposes both military and medical." But this was no momentary lapse in judgment. This was and has always been standard operating procedure for the planet's dominant species. After all, the declassified documents on U.S. radiation experiments stretch three miles long.

Even today's "monsters" are far less harmful than we "intelligent" humans. No great white shark created pesticides, napalm, Agent Orange, or the internal combustion engine; you can't blame cigarettes, greenhouse gases, hydroelectric dams, or mercury-laced vaccinations on a pit bull; and rest assured no non-human conjured up zoos, animal experimentation. or the circus.

Clearly, if Homo sapiens have put all earthly life at risk, there's only direction in which to aim the accusing finger of culpability. In your next moment of human-induced fury, frustration, commiseration, or despair, endeavor a fresh perspective and blame it on the comet.

Mickey Z. is the author of several books, most recently 50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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