NewEnergyNews: Guest Lead Post: AN EARTHQUAKE-CLIMATE CHANGE CONNECTION?

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    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Guest Lead Post: AN EARTHQUAKE-CLIMATE CHANGE CONNECTION?

    It had to be asked. The statisticians will bicker about the answer. In veteran climate change activist Ted Glick's opinion, presented below, there IS a link between climate change and earthquakes. But whether there is or not, there are two terrific reasons to consider the possibility - even though doing so will no doubt send climate change deniers into paroxysms of emotion.

    First, to think about the question shifts attention back to climate change. It is important to think about what happened and is happening in Japan, as well as what happened and is happening in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). But the over-riding challenge for this generation is climate change and it is also important not to let the momentarily urgent be too much of a distraction.

    Second, to understand that the statistical and scientific link between climate change and earthquakes is equivocal is to better understand the UNequivocal statistical and scientific connection between climate change and human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Statistics and scientific evidence are tricky. The only reason climate change deniers have an ongoing voice is they have learned to obfuscate by playing with the numbers.

    Don't take NewEnergyNews' word for this. The guy to listen to is Peter Sinclair, the force behind the superb Climate Denial Crock of the Week series:



    From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Now for the surprising things Ted found out about earthquakes.

    Global Heating Causes Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanic Eruptions
    Ted Glick, March 20, 2011 (Future Hope)

    Number of earthquakes worldwide in 1990: 16,590----number in 2008: 31,777
    -U.S. Geological Society National Earthquake Information

    I have to say that when I first started hearing about this possible connection a couple of years ago, I was kind of a skeptic. Part of me reacted, “Hey, we’re already contending with head-in-the-sand people—like the vast majority of national Republican elected officials—who deny that global heating is even happening. Now we’re supposed to carry the argument that it’s causing not just more and more destructive storms, hurricanes, rains, floods, droughts, sea level rise, desertification and agricultural failures but earthquakes and tsunamis?”

    But I’ve come to believe that it’s true, and after the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami I took some time to research it more carefully.

    (from USGS - click to enlarge)

    The first thing I found was a chart of the US Geological Society (USGS) which gave year by year information for earthquakes between 1990 and 2010. I was immediately struck by the statistic above, that the total number of earthquakes in those 20 years has almost doubled.

    Indeed, it may have done so, but in 2008, for some reason, the USGS stopped collecting information on earthquakes below magnitude 4.5 outside of the United States.

    If one calculates the number of earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 and higher between 1990 and 2010, there’s almost a 24% increase. And reporter William Marsden, writing on March 15th, 2011 in the Montreal Gazette, reports that, according to USGS data, there were 1,085 major earthquakes in the 1980s, 1,492 in the 1990s, 1,611 from 2000 to 2009, and 247 in 2010 and 2011 up to the recent Japanese earthquake.

    (from USGS - click to enlarge)

    Over those 20 years, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have gone from about 350 parts per millions (ppm) to today’s about 390. This is a dramatic rate of increase given that for many hundreds of thousands of years, based on ice core and other data, the level of ppm in the atmosphere was about 280.

    All of this information seems to be solid evidence for a position being put forward by a number of geologists, that global heating is related to earthquakes and other geological changes under the earth.

    (from USGS - click to enlarge)

    On the About.com website, Patrick Wu, a geologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, is quoted from an interview with the Canadian Press: “What happens is the weight of this thick ice puts a lot of stress on the earth. The weight sort of suppressed the earthquakes, but when you melt the ice the earthquakes get triggered.”

    Another geologist, Bill McGuire of University College in London, is quoted as saying, “All over the world evidence is stacking up that changes in global climate can and do affect the frequencies of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and catastrophic sea-floor landslides. Not only has this happened several times through Earth’s history, the evidence suggests it is happening again.”

    (from USGS - click to enlarge)

    It’s going to be very rough time for lots and lots of us worldwide in the coming years and decades, but if we do our work well, if we stand up together against the climate deniers and their fossil fuel industry enablers, humanity still has a fighting chance of emerging on the other side with a very different world.

    And life is better when you give of yourself for a cause that is right and just, no matter how heavy the odds.

    Ted Glick is the Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

    3 Comments:

    At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Pretty interesting points, although you still don't make the historical connection comparing what we know from our geologic past - that climate change, even drastic climate change - has occurred many times with no human intervention. Quit the knee jerking and party finger pointing so you can hear yourself talk. Start making comparisons to how historical data, and what the "engines" scientists know caused past climate change, appear to be doing to contribute to global warming trends today. And don't call it science. Predictions using scientific methods are the same as your statistician comments. You can manipulate the data to achieve whatever point you want. Put the facts out there, so smart people can make up their own minds from impartial data, masked to prevent source contamination. You know that one large volcano puts more toxic fuel for climate change in the air during an eruption than human causes, to include the ones a few miles deep in the ocean that are changing the chemistry of the seas and so shaping evolution, so if your correlation to climate change and earthquakes and other natural phenomena like volcanism is correct, doesn't it follow that, while we know humans have had an impact on global climate, are humans the real catalyst for what we know has happened many times over Earth's ebb and flow evolution? I can't wait to hear your statistically charged answer, and I love the way you control site content with the disclaimer below that you must approve the blog entries. So much for the liberal ideal of free and open debate. And no, I'm not a republican, although I love the way you have to pick targets to make a point that's hopelessly incomplete. Climate shift is real, and science has been telling us that for centuries, now. And any scientist will tell you that predicting the future is a real shell game, especially when you consider that the conditions that resulted in past climate changes are different at this point in Earth's history. What we should really be focusing our energy on is developing new ways to power and protect human habitation of the planet in ways that preserve our environment and species, so that we can cope with climate changes we know will decimate biological populations of all types at some point. Perhaps you believe that eliminating human impact will return the Earth to a pristine state? That's hog wash. We know the Earth and all it's species will, at some point udergo a major change, regardless of human influence, as they have for billions of years. If you want a cause to fight for, fight for how to understand how to move the human species to a point where coping with the future becomes easier, so we can move more survivors of extreme climatic events forward, rather than waiting for the inevitable with nothing to show for it but banners and slogans.

     
    At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Kudos to you! I very much appreciate the posting displayed in its entirety, and you have reassured me that open debate on emotionally charged issues is something you value! Starting the day with a Huzah! is much better than starting it with a Harumph!

     
    At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I've been predicting this since about 2004 when I realized the rebound from ice melt would deweight large portions of the poles plus water changing volume with varying ocean depth would cause vast changes in weight on the sea floor. There are probably other factors but it was obvious to me from the get go and I called it.

     

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