Friday, March 05, 2010

What Really Killed The Dinosaurs?

Now It Can Be Told!

Was it a cataclysmic event, ala a giant asteroid smashing into the earth, the intense firestorm, the dust blocking the sun, the planet cooling, vegetation dying, yada, yada, yada?

No. No. And no again.

It was the property taxes, stupid dinosaurs!

Yes, scientific results are in. PROPERTY TAXES DOOMED THE DINOSAURS. [And that big "freeze" didn't help!]

The 2010 Statement of Taxes for the Town of Hempstead -- County of Nassau has arrived, and, true to her word, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray "froze" Town taxes, as promised. Indeed, in almost all categories, the tax levy was actually lowered, if but a smidgen.

That deserves a "Thank you, Kate Murray." Let no one say we never had anything nice to say about Kate.

Will Town taxes be frozen again for 2011, a non-election year for the Town's chief exec? We shall see.

Before you get all smiley, thinking of ways to spend that spare change the tax "freeze" has caused to jingle in your pockets, look a bit closer at your tax receipt.

While Town taxes have been held in check, not necessarily so for the Town's special districts, "local control" notwithstanding.

Astonishingly, the tax levy for the Sanitary Districts, at least in SD6, did not increase. Then again, how much higher than $21.6 million total tax levy/$654.41 per household -- more than half of the total tax paid to the Town of Hempstead, and nearly twice the per household tax paid for the County-General Purposes -- can a tax to collect garbage actually go? [Add to this insult the levy of $53.64 million/$291.74 per household for the Town's Refuse Disposal District, and you're out-of-pocket a whopping $946.15 per household, for a total trash tax levy of more than $75 million. Is it any wonder many of us have trouble making ends meet?]

The Water District raised the levy by nearly 6%. [We told you to put those barrels out to collect the summer rains and the melting snows.] The local Fire District upped its levy by only 0.5%. [Guess with all that water, there are less fires.]

Freeze or no freeze, we are still paying a tax levy of more than $60 million for Town Highway Repairs/Improvements. Indeed, we've noticed the "improvement" in the Town's potholes this year. They're bigger and better than ever!

Still being asked, but never quite answered, is why we pay so darn much, not only for County Police [$162 million tax levy/$703.64 (just a tad more than for garbage collection) per household, but for that funny little thing called County Police Headquarters, coming in this year with a levy of nearly $127.4 million/$535.38 per household. [True, we pay more for trash collection than we do for police headquarters, but what in the names of Dick Tracy and Officer Joe Bolton is going on down at headquarters to mandate such an outrageous levy? Pensions? Health benefits? Those fancy boots for Highway Patrol?]

We also noticed that the local County Sewage Collection District raised its tax levy by some 22.5%. Hey, you need big sewers to handle all the crap they shove our way, and considering, when walking "downtown" or along "Main Street," it's pretty much a sewer out there, the tax levy of a mere $1.4 million/$69.20 per household is quite a bargain.

So, where did all the dinosaurs go? Extinct?

Not quite. Some of them went into politics, and are still said to be "representing" us in government at all levels. The rest have left Long Island for more hospitable, and less costly climes, in hopes of avoiding the fallout from that next big rock from the sky. You know. The fiery orb that burns through our pockets leaving but a vacuous void.

Propertytaxus extinctus. . .
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It's official: An asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs

By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) – A giant asteroid smashing into Earth is the only plausible explanation for the extinction of the dinosaurs, a global scientific team said on Thursday, hoping to settle a row that has divided experts for decades.

A panel of 41 scientists from across the world reviewed 20 years' worth of research to try to confirm the cause of the so-called Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) extinction, which created a "hellish environment" around 65 million years ago and wiped out more than half of all species on the planet.

Scientific opinion was split over whether the extinction was caused by an asteroid or by volcanic activity in the Deccan Traps in what is now India, where there were a series of super volcanic eruptions that lasted around 1.5 million years.

The new study, conducted by scientists from Europe, the United States, Mexico, Canada and Japan and published in the journal Science, found that a 15-kilometre (9 miles) wide asteroid slamming into Earth at Chicxulub in what is now Mexico was the culprit.

"We now have great confidence that an asteroid was the cause of the KT extinction. This triggered large-scale fires, earthquakes measuring more than 10 on the Richter scale, and continental landslides, which created tsunamis," said Joanna Morgan of Imperial College London, a co-author of the review.

The asteroid is thought to have hit Earth with a force a billion times more powerful than the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

Morgan said the "final nail in the coffin for the dinosaurs" came when blasted material flew into the atmosphere, shrouding the planet in darkness, causing a global winter and "killing off many species that couldn't adapt to this hellish environment."

Scientists working on the study analyzed the work of paleontologists, geochemists, climate modelers, geophysicists and sedimentologists who have been collecting evidence about the KT extinction over the last 20 years.

Geological records show the event that triggered the dinosaurs' demise rapidly destroyed marine and land ecosystems, they said, and the asteroid hit "is the only plausible explanation for this."

Peter Schulte of the University of Erlangen in Germany, a lead author on the study, said fossil records clearly show a mass extinction about 65.5 million years ago -- a time now known as the K-Pg boundary.

Despite evidence of active volcanism in India, marine and land ecosystems only showed minor changes in the 500,000 years before the K-Pg boundary, suggesting the extinction did not come earlier and was not prompted by eruptions.

The Deccan volcano theory is also thrown into doubt by models of atmospheric chemistry, the team said, which show the asteroid impact would have released much larger amounts of sulphur, dust and soot in a much shorter time than the volcanic eruptions could have, causing extreme darkening and cooling.

Gareth Collins, another co-author from Imperial College, said the asteroid impact created a "hellish day" that signaled the end of the 160-million-year reign of the dinosaurs, but also turned out to be a great day for mammals.

"The KT extinction was a pivotal moment in Earth's history, which ultimately paved the way for humans to become the dominant species on Earth," he wrote in a commentary on the study.

(Collins has created a website at which allows readers to see the effects of the asteroid impact.)
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Your property tax bill is on its way. Watch the skies. . .


  1. It would also help if the Hempstead Industrial Development Agency stopped giving away tax abatements like candy to the politically connected. What the IDA should be doing is working on attracting companies in growth areas of our economy that can then generate the kind of high-paying permanent jobs needed to expand the tax base and give current taxpayers a break. Instead they've generally focused on small-scale real estate projects that might generate some temporary construction work, but certainly don't contribute meaningfully to the local job economy on any kind of permanent basis. Meantime they're giving away tax breaks that can literally span decades. Brilliant.