"one of the consequences that scientists have long predicted"

Did you know that earthquakes can be caused by anthropogenic global warming? No, really. That's what a "number" of geologists have been saying:

A number of geologists say glacial melting due to climate change will unleash pent-up pressures in the Earth's crust, causing extreme geological events such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

A cubic metre of ice weighs nearly a tonne and some glaciers are more than a kilometre thick. When the weight is removed through melting, the suppressed strains and stresses of the underlying rock come to life.

University of Alberta geologist Patrick Wu compares the effect to that of a thumb pressed on a soccer ball - when the pressure of the thumb is removed, the ball springs back to its original shape.

Because the earth is so viscous the rebound happens slowly, and the quakes that occasionally shake Eastern Canada are attributed to ongoing rebound from the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago.

Yes, but it's now happening faster and faster! Because of humans!
Melting of the ice that covers Antarctica or Greenland would have a similar impact, but the process would be accelerated due to the human-induced greenhouse effect.

"What happens is the weight of this thick ice puts a lot of stress on the earth," says Wu. "The weight sort of suppresses the earthquakes but when you melt the ice the earthquakes get triggered."

When a quake happens under water it can cause a tsunami. Wu said melting of the Antarctic ice is already causing earthquakes and underground landslides although they get little attention. He predicted climate warming will bring "lots of earthquakes."

Well, if it will bring lots of earthquakes, then obviously it already is, because of the human-induced greenhouse acceleration!

As we speak, glaciers are melting, and all that water is pressing on the tectonic plates! That's because the crust is sensitive:

When the glaciers melt, the reliquified water causes sea levels to rise and increases the weight on the ocean floor, which could also have an effect on the grinding tectonic plates deep below the surface.

The Earth's crust is more sensitive than some might think. There are well-documented cases of dams causing earthquakes when the weight of the water behind a dam fills a reservoir.

Alan Glazner, a volcano specialist at the University of North Carolina, said he was initially incredulous when he found a link between climate and volcanic activity off the coast of California.

"But then I went to the library and did some research and found that in many places around the world especially around the Mediterranean they see similar sorts of correlations."

"When you melt glacial ice, several hundred metres to a kilometre thick . . . you've decreased the load on the crust and so you've decreased the pressure holding the volcanic conduits closed.

"They're cracks, that's how magmas gets to the surface . . . and where they hit the surface, that's where you get a volcano."

No one has claimed that the Christmas tsunami of 2004 was triggered by rising sea levels. But that event seems to have sparked new interest in the links between climate and geology.

Actually, that's not quite right. Back in 2004, Dean Esmay quoted Greenpeace's Director who claimed just that. But the Wall Street Journal warned that such thinking was "unhinged":
People prone to hysteria often become further unhinged in the face of a great disaster, and that may explain these remarkable comments on the tsunami disaster. Still, these comments by the movement's leadership may serve as a case study of how such imaginings work their way into public discussion of the environment. That is all the more reason to come to grips with the real causes of calamities such as this.

Geologists say that groups of giant earthquakes hit Sumatra every 230 years or so. The last quakes there were in 1797 and 1833--and surely not even Greenpeace would blame those on greenhouse gases--and so Sunday's latest quake was more or less on schedule.


How can the WSJ say such a thing when a "number" of scientists are claiming that the evidence is "stacking up":

"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," says British geologist Bill McGuire, writing in New Scientist magazine.

"Not only has this happened several times throughout Earth's history, (but) the evidence suggests it is happening again," says McGuire, professor of geological hazards at University College in London.

Glazner said the main impact of glacial melting is due to reduced weight on the places losing glaciers rather than the increased weight on the ocean floor.

"If you melt that glacier and the water runs into the oceans, that water is spread over the entire surface of the ocean and it might add a millimetre to the thickness of the oceans or something, but you've taken a kilometre off of that place where the glacier used to be."

In light of the stacked up evidence, and the accelerating of the human-induced greenhouse gas acceleration, obviously, today's major earthquake in China might have been, and -- in light of the Precautionary Principle -- probably was, caused by global warming.

So why aren't the numerous scientists saying it was?

Don't they believe in their own theories?

You'd think at least Al Gore could weigh in. After all, he did blame global warming for the cyclone in Burma, calling it "one of the consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with global warming."

Considering that earthquakes are said by a number of scientists to be simply another one of these consequences, I find the continued silence baffling.

posted by Eric on 05.12.08 at 04:14 PM


Increased pressure, decreased pressure...it is all a wash, because there is no net change in the weight on the crust. one pound of ice weighs the same as a pound of liquid water.

Gringo   ·  May 12, 2008 6:10 PM

"Open Letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations

Dec. 13, 2007

His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon

Secretary-General, United Nations

New York, N.Y.

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

Re: UN climate conference taking the World in entirely the wrong direction

It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attest to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other climatic variables. We therefore need to equip nations to become resilient to the full range of these natural phenomena by promoting economic growth and wealth generation. "


dre   ·  May 12, 2008 6:10 PM

Al Gore is a patriot who dared to look silly.

It worked!

Penny   ·  May 12, 2008 11:26 PM

Al Gore did weigh in: 320.

Anyway, don't the oceans weigh anything? Don't all those anthropogenically caused tides stress the earth's crust? This theory is just silly.

Montjoie   ·  May 13, 2008 12:22 AM

The glacial ice could pop off Antarctica like a cork. Of course, it could also do that if it keeps getting colder as well. In geologic time, it isn't very stable. And the results would be terrible. But that has nothing to do with global warming. I imagine if it happened in our lifetime it would get blamed on whatever the crisis du jour is at the time. And that blame would be believed for decades, regardless of scientific evidence. We can expect that humanity will do something stupid in response.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  May 13, 2008 12:20 PM

This idea's been going around for a while - that higher sea levels create more pressure on subduction zones, "lubricating" them, so to speak. To the best of my knowledge it's just an idea, and even as an idea, you'd need a sea level rise of 200 feet or more to see any influence on volcanism or earthquake activity.

Chris Wren   ·  May 13, 2008 11:30 PM

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ykrh lrfmzqa   ·  May 19, 2008 5:13 AM

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