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 Yucat�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 percent 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 that we humans have not
exactly been the most responsible species, well, there's a giant comet to
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
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.
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 www.mickeyz.net..