Tag Archives: earthquake

Earthquakes Caused By Climate Change?

There is a rather pathetic inevitability about this. It seems that, whatever the natural disaster might be, it must be down to climate change. I suspect that, if an asteroid was to crash into a city, one way or another, it would be blamed upon climate change.

Well, here it is. The recent earthquakes that have caused so much devastation are now being blamed upon climate change. The Calgary Herald offers a story under the title of ‘Could global warming be causing recent earthquakes?‘ and have the following to say:

Some scientists theorize that the sudden melting of glaciers due to man-made climate change is lightening the load on the Earth’s surface, allowing its mantle to rebound upwards and causing plates to become unstuck.

These scientists point to the historical increase in volcanic and earthquake activity that occurred about 12,000 years ago when the glaciers that covered most of Canada in an ice sheet several kilometres thick suddenly melted.

It is notable that these so-called ‘scientists’ are not actually named in the article. I suspect that it would be a very brave scientist who might put their name behind the nonsense in the article. However, others are also managing to link the natural disaster in Japan with climate change. Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post reports on some other examples:

Friday, the day an 8.9 earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Honshu, the president of the European Union’s Economic and Social Committee released this puzzling statement:

The earthquake and tsunami will clearly have a severe impact on the economic and social activities of the region. Some islands affected by climate change have been hit. Has not the time come to demonstrate on solidarity — not least solidarity in combating and adapting to climate change and global warming? Mother Nature has again given us a sign that that is what we need to do.

Ah, there we have it – ‘mother nature’ is speaking to us and giving us signs. If only Canterbury people had not used their log burners, then there would have been no problem. ‘Mother Nature’ would have been at peace with the world. Here is another example of quasi-religious discourse from Jim Garrison in the Huffington Post:

What makes matters even more ominous is the fact that what is happening in Japan can happen anywhere, particularly in geologically fragile areas like the California coast where four nuclear reactors operate. Moreover, the probability that another accident will happen is escalating. The Japanese disaster is not an isolated event. It is but the latest incident in the most serious and potentially devastating megatrend in the world right now — the escalating turbulence in our natural systems. In the past twenty five years, extreme weather events have quadrupled in frequency and escalated in intensity. Climate change is morphing into climate shock as month after month natural disasters pile up and wreak havoc on societies everywhere, overwhelming our most sophisticated technologies.

For the moment, we will ignore the suspect figures on disasters, but Garrison goes on to say that “Nature is reminding us that as powerful as we think we are, we are not the Prime Mover. She is. In the face of nature, human technology is but chaff in the wind.”

James Delingpole, in the Telegraph, likewise reports on another tenuous linkage between climate change and the earthquake at Grist, which it seems led to some embarrassment at the site:

The eco website Grist had a valiant stab too with a headline “Today’s Tsunami: this is what climate change looks like.” After getting a roasting from some of its more scientifically scrupulous readers it then modified its position with a couple of updates. (But still decided to have its cake and eat it – as you’ll see from the last line of update 1) (H/T Chris1966)

Update: The intent of this piece isn’t to attribute today’s tragedy to climate change. Apologies to those whom I misled with the headline. It was meant literally, as in: Tsunamis are inundations of shorelines and therefore have impacts that resemble storm surges, which are one of the most immediate threats of a warmer planet. In addition, climate change may cause tsunamis directly, so it’s possible we’ll someday see more images like this as a result.

Update 2: Changed the headline (it originally read “Today’s tsunami: This is what climate change looks like”) and updated the text to reflect the discussion of the science and the framing in the comments.

In my trawl around the Internet for linkages between earthquakes and climate change, I have found the following and must eat my earlier words about scientists putting their name behind linkages between climate change and earthquakes. This is from the Brookings Institution website:

Scientists and research organizations have warned that climate change can result in more earthquakes and tsunamis, in part due to global warming. In 2009, University College London Professor Bill McGuire addressed a conference of scientists researching the changing climate’s effects on geological hazards and noted that “climate change doesn’t just affect the atmosphere and the oceans but the earth’s crust as well…the whole earth is an interactive system.”

So, there you have it. It was climate change that did it for Japan and Christchurch, because Professor McGuire said so…..Here is a quote from the original article cited by Brookings:

The vulcanologists, seismologists, glaciologists, climatologists and landslide experts at the meeting have looked to the past to try to predict future changes, particularly to climate upheaval at the end of the last ice age, some 12,000 years ago.

“When the ice is lost, the earth’s crust bounces back up again and that triggers earthquakes, which trigger submarine landslides, which cause tsunamis,” said McGuire, who organized the three-day conference.

David Pyle of Oxford University said small changes in the mass of the earth’s surface seems to affect volcanic activity in general, not just in places where ice receded after a cold spell. Weather patterns also seem to affect volcanic activity – not just the other way round, he told the conference.

These are not isolated. If you want more, there is an article at Clean Technica, which is…well, just take a read, and maybe leave a comment when you are done.  I started with the post with the comment about the asteroid, and can only wonder how long it will be before we find that asteroid impacts are increasing due to climate change. I wait with high expectations….