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Mesozoic Misanthropy vs. Holocene Humanitarianism, or The New Dinosaurs


by strannikov


     A fair amount of Mesozoic-age oil sat in the ground undisturbed for aeons, until recently. Of these deposits of petroleum derived wholly or chiefly from the spent carcasses of so many deceased dinosaurs, we are talking of one hell of a lot of lizards and reptiles. If this oil is still being pumped annually in the volume of billions of 42-gallon barrels, decade in decade out, we are speaking of the oily smudges left behind by a large large population and many many generations of dinosaurs, lizards, and reptiles. That's a lot of Komodo dragons and gila monsters. The planet must've been positively writhing and squirming with reptiles, there must've been billions of them to've left such an oily mess behind. Billions. Many many billions. (It is said with respect to Permian-age petroleum deposits [and I'm hardly ever one to quibble] that a single liter of refined gasoline constitutes the end-product of over twenty metric tons of ancient phytoplankton deposited as sludge on prehistoric ocean floors. [The planet obviously had enough here to spare, too.])

     But by stirring the sediments of what surely would have become formidable rival species to fuel our own species' latter-day locomotive efforts, we've inadvertently equipped the dinosaurs to put their especially toothy grins back to work, in whatever state they otherwise now occupy: the dinosaurs are poised for revenge!

     Regrettably, and very sadly too late now, dinosaur carbon has been spewed into our atmosphere at such phenomenal rates, physicists with the CHRONOS Collaboration legitimately fear that soon, a dread kind of subatomic nuclear congealing will begin to occur that will reconstitute the dinosaurs from the very air into our very midst: authentic and entire re-physicalizations are being anticipated. Driving that's already hazardous and fraught with peril at the hands of cell phone fiends and handicapped drivers will become only that much more stressful. Drivers already taxed with avoiding myriad skateboarders and buzzing motorcyclists, witless pedestrians, righteous coughing bicyclists, demented delivery trucks, and careening school buses, will now have to navigate around blinking brontosauruses and gnashing tyrannosauri. (Just you watch: insurance rates will go up, so will the deductibles.) The maintenance of highway overpasses and bridges will present a fresh nuisance to the motoring public: even though much construction machinery outweighs many a dinosaur, still, you're speaking of cleaning up new greasy and oily messes once the encounters are behind you—then of course, you have to repair or replace the affected bridge or overpass after a brief spell of competitive bidding. (It does not go without saying that, to date, not one single plant dedicated to rendering reconstituted dinosaur blubber into automotive fuel has been built, but the cost efficiency itself will materialize only just after the first dinosaurs begin to reconstitute.)

     But now, for some distinctly bad timing: vulcanologists with their stethoscopes to the ground in Malaysia and Indonesia are detecting magma buildups that likely will result in the twenty-first century's treating our hurtling planet's northern hemisphere to two eruptions with VEI ratings of 7 or 8: one by mid-century on the scale of Mount Tambora's 1815 blast, another no more than twenty years later and only slightly smaller than the prehistoric Toba blast. Forget anthropogenic contributions: a colorful return of late Jurassic and early Cretaceous hues is in the offing no matter what we do now. By century's end, the air worldwide is expected to re-acquire that bracing sulphuric vigor characteristic of Mesozoic mornings. Goodbye, blue skies! Everything will glow red—after which, everything will glow red quietly . . . .

 

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