CNHI News Service

Opinion

February 11, 2013

History as a matter of chance

History is full of pivotal moments.

What if Socrates had decided against drinking that hemlock?

What if Gutenberg hadn’t developed his printing press?

What if Washington’s army failed to survive the winter at Valley Forge?

What if Edison gave up on inventing the light bulb?

Events of all sorts, big and small, shape the future. What we are today is a product of all that has happened in the past, good and bad, momentous and mundane.

But if Edison had failed to invent the light bulb, it’s likely someone else would have done so. In many instances, historic events aren’t all-or-nothing propositions. It’s just a matter of who gets the credit.

Than again, there are occurrences that absolutely send history in a completely different direction.

On Friday, an asteroid measuring about 147 feet in diameter will brush by the Earth. Its trajectory will take it inside the orbits of some satellites.

That’s a little too close for comfort.

An asteroid this size isn’t enough to destroy the planet, but depending on where it hit, the damage could be substantial.

Roughly 66 million years ago, a much larger object smacked into the planet. Researchers believe it hit near Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. The impact left a crater 100 miles wide and spewed clouds of dirt into the atmosphere that darkened skies for years and substantially lowered temperatures.

One result of this impact was that it killed off the dinosaurs — at least the big ones. Many scientists will argue that today’s reptiles and birds are dinosaurs of sorts.

Yet within a relatively sort period of time, geologically at least, the massive reptiles of the past were gone. Life on Earth was about to change dramatically.

With large life forms wiped out, smaller creatures had more opportunities to survive. And lower temperatures gave an advantage to those that were warm blooded.

Text Only
Opinion
  • taylor.armerding.jpg Warren's populist pitch on student loans is off key

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren's populist rhetoric pumps up students about their loan burdens, but she conveniently neglects to mention the real problem - the exorbitant cost of college - much less how she's benefitted from those high prices.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Voters beware of oligarchs and bogeymen

    Scaring voters to distract them from issues is a tired - and bipartisan - ploy sure to be in heavy rotation this campaign season.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Put teens to work by laying off minimum wage rhetoric

    Idle teen workers may be a national problem, but frugal private employers aren't the reason for it. Minimum wage hikes - like the one championed by President Obama - squeeze these marginal jobs out of the economy.
     

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Legal marijuana can be government's new cash crop

    Officials holding out against legalized marijuana may "evolve" their thinking because of one number: Colorado says it gathered $2 million in taxes from pot shops in January, as business was just getting started.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Banning a 'B-word' teaches girls the wrong lesson

    Striking the word "bossy" from the language doesn't help young girls learn to speak up or become leaders. It teaches them how to be, well, bossy.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Giving businesses choice is not legalizing discrimination

    The owner of a California gay bar should be allowed to refuse service to legislators he considers "crazy, ignorant or stupid." The problem is the popular double-standard that supports his version of "discrimination" while raging against anyone who disagrees with him but wants the same freedom.

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama twists Constitution to cut U.S. military

    President Obama's plan to slash the military to pre-World War II levels endangers the country, especially when our enemies don't know the war is over.

    February 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Benefits of hiking minimum wage are an illusion

    The president's latest economic fantasy says raising the minimum wage will incentivize work, lower unemployment, juice the economy and may even lower taxes. All while businesses swallow billions of dollars more in labor costs.

    February 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Coastal residents should pay true cost of flood insurance

    The environmental champions in Congress took a big break from their moral scolding this past month with a gigantic “Never mind!” after their constituents discovered the law requiring them to start paying the true cost of living in flood-prone areas.

    February 14, 2014 1 Photo

News
Sports

Features