Saturday, September 9, 2017

Another Iceberg Is Moving... Maybe...

Pushing on icebergs is my metaphor for continuing to work  - push - on causes that can seem hopeless.  The philosophy behind that choice can be complex, but sometimes the simplest reason to work is - there is nothing to lose by making the effort.  Why not keep trying?

One of the icebergs I push on is "public opinion".  Manifestly, public opinion changes, moves.  Witness womens' suffrage, prohibition, etc.  As well as the consistent swing in voters from one political party to the other.  One of the places public opinion brews is in the "newspapers" - though that world has spread widely.  But- people looking to express their own opinion, or understand others, very often "read the papers" and read the arguments.

So I do comment regularly in the New York Times, Washington Post, and a few other places.  And if you look around on this blog you will find several posts about my occasional successes, as judged by the number of "likes" my comments can receive.  Sometimes a lot of people like what I have to say.

And sometimes, I can really stick my neck out in these comments; with opinions and facts I know will not be happily received.  I just did that yesterday- and - got thoroughly surprised by the results.  Pleasantly.

We're up to our ears in hurricanes and hurricane news at the moment; when along comes the big Mexican earthquake; the strongest in 100 years.  So - I decided to go ahead and say publicly something I have avoided saying for years, because most folks would then certainly put me in the whackjob box.  Not good if you hope people may actually listen to you, a little.

Climate change is going to cause earthquakes.  Is; will; some of them bigger than we are used to.  Everything on the planet is connected- changing sea levels will change the forces working on faults, and some will be pushed over the edge into slipping.  Physics.  But boy- the few times I have raised the subject in conversations, the rejection was fierce.  From all directions.

I laid it out in the New York Times first coverage of this earthquake.  To my astonishment - it was quickly a "New York Times Pick", one of only 9, out of 319 comments so far.  The Times staff who do the picking will always pick a few comments running against the trend, so long as they are articulate, so the fact that I was picked doesn't mean the NYT agrees with me.  But!  To my increasing astonishment - a lot of people DO.  My comment is currently ranked #7 out of 200 some, with 195 "recommendations."  And; boy; did my comment get a lot of "replies".  Mostly of the "shut up you ignorant ass" variety, but not all.

Here is the comment:

"Greenpa Minnesota 1 day ago

"Ok. Are you listening? Yes, on Planet Earth, EVERYTHING is connected.

"Earth's crust is made up of enormous blocks of rock- and where the continental "plates" meet, they rub up against each other, and move. How far do they move? They move until all the forces affecting them are "in balance". When those forces change- they will move again. That's called an earthquake. Over geological eons, they move a very great deal; we now know from many kinds of evidence that Africa and South America really did once fit together into one land mass. The 6,000 miles now separating them happened - one earthquake at a time.

"Most continental plate boundaries are under the oceans. What happens when a fault zone, in balance- now has just a little more ocean on top of it? "Balance" means exactly that- and adding one feather to the other side of a balance can make it shift; no vast application of force is required; just a tiny push over the balance point; and it will move.

"Is it possible that Hurricane Katia; now pushing storm surge water onto the other side of the Mexican land mass - triggered these earth quakes?

"It is. Just a feather, to shift balance. Will the rising sea levels around the world shift more plate balances? They will.

"No professional geologist will stick their necks out and say that. Yet. But if you've ever played with any kind of balanced system - you know. Just a feather will do it. Yes, climate change will cause earthquakes. More, as it gets worse."


Pretty blunt, huh?   And - an effective push on the iceberg of getting earthquakes into the climate change conversation.  Why?  Because now, at least 195 people will have it in their heads that "It was in the New York Times" - and they agree - and they will now feel much readier to bring the idea up in friendly conversations.  Public opinion.

So that's fun.  And, for the inevitable readers who will vote on the "shut up you ignorant ass" side; here is a quote from Wikipedia, on continental drift (now known and utterly accepted as "plate tectonics" - i.e. really big earthquakes.)  "David Attenborough, who attended university in the second half of the 1940s, recounted an incident illustrating its lack of acceptance then: 'I once asked one of my lecturers why he was not talking to us about continental drift and I was told, sneeringly, that if I could prove there was a force that could move continents, then he might think about it. The idea was moonshine, I was informed.' "

Experts and professors, historically, can be just a much ignorant asses as the rest of us.

If you have the interest, reading the replies to me is kind of fun, too.  Change is messy!  To see the replies, you have to find my original place; look under "oldest first", should be in the first page.

And - if you enjoy stirring the climate change pot - you should share that comment widely out onto the social media.  I guarantee reactions.