Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When will the Japanese earthquake, and its tsunami, be attributed to climate change?

On January 4, 2005, India Daily had this analysis of the machanism behind the South Asian tsunami on Christmas 2004: "The cause of Tsunami is earth’s melting of permafrost in arctic circle due to global warming: Indian Scientists – many more global landslides and earthquakes possible." This is a fine example of attributing all and everything to climate change. Misusing the concept of climate change as a mere scare is effectively belittling the seriousness of the issue. I wonder when the first claims will show up that the present disaster in Japan is also (partially) caused by the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere..

The article reads like this.

"Rising temperatures in the Arctic are melting the permafrost . …According to some ... scientists, the melting of permafrost has far reaching effects on earth’s crust. The tectonic plates are susceptible to forces on different parts of the world including the Arctic and Antarctic regions. The new theory says if the crust of the earth is imbalanced due to tremendous effect of global warming and melting of permafrost.

… It has been observed, that during the receding ice ages in the past which means natural warming… , the tectonic movements increase. Worse is the fact that the tectonic movements increase in thrust and violent characteristics. It is at this time world experience 9 and above Richter scale earthquakes – many of them all over the world in a short period of time.

According to these scientists we may be experiencing similar phenomenon where all on a sudden tectonic movements devastate the world.

The tsunami that happened was caused by an earthquake along a 600 mile fault line that got displaced. That is not common. It really never happened in recent history of the world.

Interestingly, the Tsunami traveled westwards at 500 miles per hour and did not traverse in the south with that kind of high velocity. According to the scientific analysts, that is another sign that this was caused by melting of permafrost in the Arctic."


Paul Butler said...

Here's a letter which got printed in the Independent on 14th March:
"The Earth is flattened at its poles by the sheer mass of ice resting on them. Since global warming is causing reduction of this mass, can we assume that the crust beneath the poles is rising? If this is the case, perhaps the rest of the Earth's surface is reacting and adjusting. Could this be the cause of the growing violence of earthquakes? "

The trouble is statements like this tend to come from people who are (a) demented or (b) have no understanding of science or (c) are trying to manufacture proof that their opponents are all demented alarmists with no understanding of science.

Its good for a laugh, and I hope we get some harmless fun from this thread, but I'm not sure it proves anything.

Hans von Storch said...

Paul, I would presume that some people really believe this; it is one of these strange constructions, when people fail to identify the significant and the insignificant processes. It has nothing to do with science, even if in this case the journalist referred to a scientist, but to the perception - which can be: earthquakes and climate change are really connected, or, people talking about the adverse effects of climate change jump on everything just to get some policies installed. Both not good, neither for the policies nor for the authority of science. But part of reality.

Paul Butler said...

people talking about the adverse effects of climate change jump on everything just to get some policies installed

Yes Hans I must admit there are people who do that, even though its obviously counterproductive. And I suppose me calling them 'demented' is a bit unfair - I'm sure they are often sincere.

when people fail to identify the significant and the insignificant processes. It has nothing to do with science

Well, I'd say it does have to do with science in the sense that these ideas (if they are sincerely held) are associated with a failure to understand profound differences in scale and scope which are absolutely fundamental to the way science is done. To some extent such failures of understanding in society will be associated with the failure to educate people in basic scientific concepts.

eduardo said...

I had a anecdotal experience, that surely cannot be generalized, but it may say something about the mindset of the average person. I was in a restaurant in Spain - the weather was vary rainy the day of the earthquake. The waiter was trying to convince me that the cause of the bad weather in Spain was the earthquake in Japan, because the atmosphere had been disturbed.

This is the average voter that will have to decide whether or not to accept taxes to reduce carbon emissions.

Anonymous said...

@ Hans von Storch

"It has nothing to do with science"

There you are ...



Anonymous said...

Because of greenhouse gases?

Bullsh**, IT'S ALL THE SUN!!!


Rainer S said...

Guys, sorry, you have got this completely wrong.

The real reason for the quake and the ensuing tsunami was the collective weight of the Japanese population, dipping the local outcrop of the North American Plate.

So obesity is the main reason, and if Japanese -and people in the developed world in general - eat less, we will not only avoid earthquakes, but also - decrease our Eco Footprint.

Anonymous said...

Hi Eduardo (yes it is me, the very same!)

I think Andrew Hynes of McGill must be getting some interesting correspondence right now!

What your waiter was saying is a religious trope, in a way - it seems to come from the need to find meaning in our lives. Still, perhaps that's also what we're trying to do with our climate models ...

Paul Butler said...

Sorry, should have put my name on that last one!

Anonymous said...

What to expect from AR5 when you hear the chairman speaking ...


Remember "Save the IPCC" ?



Quote D. Kahan: "... eine solche Diskussion sollte auf jeden Fall innerhalb der (deutschen) Wissenschaft geführt werden" - in german: "such a discussion should take place in any case within the (German) Science"

Probably about time - when railway engineers keep undermining scientific credibility.

To put it briefly: there are absolutely no attributions of earthquakes to global warming to find in AR4, Working Group I.


Frank said...

Due to the respect to the victims of the earthquake and tsunamie and also to the victims of the nuclear GAU in Japan ( a little bit also in the name of the prevention of global warming with a little help of nuclear power?) we should not grade up this kind of cabaret.

Anonymous said...

"The cause of Tsunami is earth’s melting of permafrost in arctic circle due to global warming: Indian Scientists – many more global landslides and earthquakes possible."

Last time I heard something of Indian scientists was Himalaya glaciers melting 2035.


@ReinerGrundmann said...

There is a more immediate link between climate change and nuclear safety, claims Natalie Kopytko in The Guardian:

"Reading incident reports from nuclear power plants has provided no reassurance. I've read about safety doors being left open during a hurricane, communication problems, access roads flooding and, of all things, algae regularly causing reactors to shut down. After I heard about the devastating earthquake in Japan, I immediately thought about the nuclear power plants. ...
No matter how well they build them, nuclear power plants require lots of water. As such, the plants need to be either on the coast or near a large body of water at an inland site. The loss of off-site power commonly happens during storms, particularly at coastal locations. So a strong storm, probably stronger than the historical records used in the estimates for design, could cause flooding that leads to an accident similar to the one we are witnessing."

Anonymous said...

As a reader of DailyFail I know the earthquake was caused by Supermoon!

(Any conclusions to the quality of DailyMail reports about climate change are of course coincidental.)