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What Goes Around

March 5, 2012 - I want to share information with you that I gleaned from an article about how climate change is affecting seismic activity.  It's really pretty fascinating.

For instance, did you know that permafrost acts as the glue that holds mountains together?  Not all mountains, obviously, but in northern Europe and North America, that's how it works.  I never knew they needed holding together, but then again, I'm no geologist.  The permafrost in some areas of Alaska and Canada (and probably northern Europe) is melting, and that's why we're hearing more about avalanches on the news these days.  Rockslides, landslides, and snowslides are all on the increase, in mountainous areas throughout the world.

Then there's the earth's crust.  During the Earth's Ice Ages, the crust was pinned down by the weight of ice and snow.  Seismic activity was, for this reason, reduced, because crust movement is necessary for the triggering of earthquakes.  As ice and snow melt, which they are without question doing today, the crust is described as "popping" back up.  This bouncing action can create major fault lines, cracks in the earth which then serve as precursors to earthquakes.  Rising of the earth's crust is an ongoing event in Greenland.  In fact, the gradual disappearance of Greenland's ice sheet could eventually lead to underwater landslides, which might in turn spawn tsunamis capable of threatening the east coast of North America.

Not only are an increased number of earthquakes predicted.  A "lively response from volcanoes" is anticipated as well.  Anyone acquainted with the lay of the land which makes up the Pacific Ring of Fire knows that tremendous numbers of people could ultimately be affected by crust movement initiated by the melting of ice and permafrost in Alaska.  As for the rise in sea level, island nations making up a portion of the western side of the Ring (Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines) may well have very little to look forward to in the way of a future.  Then again, should both the Greenland ice sheet and the West Antarctica ice sheet melt, the oceans will end up rising 33 feet or more.  Who knows which of us would be around to tell that story?

Isn't it astonishing that we are behaving like disinterested observers, knowing what we know?  It's hard to decide which is the more lurid - our insistence on business as usual, or our ability to distance ourselves from our collective death, even as it continues to unfold.  There is such a big part of me that wants to believe that if any one of us came upon someone inflicting themselves with a mortal injury, we would do everything in our power to stop them.  Over the weekend, I heard a news story on WGN about a woman who had hit a light pole, causing her SUV to burst into flames.  Not only did the police make every effort to extract her from her vehicle, but other drivers stopped to assist them.  Complete strangers, who had no idea who the person was they were helping (this happened in Chicago).  Ironically, the woman in the SUV was so drunk, she didn't even realize she'd been in an accident, though she did survive.  While I know more than one person who would speak of this woman disparagingly, they would see no comparison between themselves (turning a blind eye to climate change evidence) and her.  Yet our collective refusal to cut back on our high standard of living, which endangers the rest of the world, is every bit as criminal.

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.  Thomas Jefferson.


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