As expected by everyone outside the American right-wing echo chamber, Obama handily defeated Romney in the US election. In the weeks leading up to the election, pollster Nate Silver (who posts at the New York Times) came under such ferocious criticism from Fox News & friends, for purportedly “skewing” his results to inflate predictions in Obama’s favour, that you’d think he was a climate scientist! That wasn’t just my left-leaning impression, either. David Frum — former George W. Bush speechwriter David “Axis of Evil” Frum — tweeted to that effect!
As it turns out, it was the American right which was diddling the numbers in their favour, much as they do with climate data as it arrives. (This is known as the “down the up escalator” technique.)
It’s been interesting following the chatter this election cycle, as people wondered whether Obama could win the white vote; whether half-white and already-once-elected incumbent President Obama, could win the white vote. (As it turns out, Romney got a higher percentage. It was pretty obvious he would, given the data from the 2008 Obama-McCain election. Obama got 50% of the white vote outside the American South, but only 30% of the white vote in the American South. That doesn’t look suspicious at all…!)
Things really went grim for Mitt when some investigative reporting showed that while Solyndra-type failures represented 8% of government energy-startup-company investments, when Romney headed Bain Capital a full 22% of its investments went under. (Admittedly, Bain’s specialty was the business equivalent of organ harvesting.) I guess that’s why people say government shouldn’t pick winners and losers — when they do, they make the private sector look bad. ;) There’s some highly enjoyable Daily Show coverage here (it’s about 2 minutes in).
Of course, as bad as Tuesday was for Mitt, on the “bad days” scale, it was pretty mild. Consider the dinosaurs. One of today’s leading theories — based on extensive computer modelling — suggests their extinction happened in one day.
While the dinos may have been in a bit of a decline for several million years prior (an “evolutionary recession”, perhaps?) the 15-km-wide asteroid that hit them is thought to have hit land, with the heat causing continental-scale forest fires. A huge plume of debris is then thought to have entered low orbit, spreading across the world’s skies before falling back to earth several hours later. And like all space objects re-entering the atmosphere, the friction of re-entry caused it to burn up, giving off tremendous heat.
The calculation is that this would have been the equivalent of putting the planet in a pizza oven for several hours. Land surface temperatures would have risen far, far above boiling around the world, and the top few inches of ocean water could have been vaporized.
The boiling temperatures would have killed off any dinosaurs not already affected by the forest fires; and taken out most of the terrestrial plants, too. Mammals are thought to’ve survived because our long-ago mouse-like ancestors lived in underground burrows and were able to escape the heat. Birds also survived because their common ancestor also used underground burrows. (Hmm… maybe those hobbits are onto something. :) )
By this theory, the sea life extinction would’ve happened in the subsequent years, as sulfur-aerosol dust clouds dimmed the sun and reduced photosynthesis. Then as the aerosols fell to earth, they’d’ve turned into sulfuric and sulfurous acids (H2SO4 or H2SO3) which would’ve acidified the oceans, killing off shell-based creatures and hitting the food chain for a double whammy.
Next update soon. I gotta start looking at basement suites. ;)