When suggestions floated around the internet, linking increased earthquake activity to Climate Change, I chuckled. Sure the ground had rebounded a bit in Greenland, just where glacier melt was strongest, but really, it sounded like pseudoscience.
There may be a causal link after all.
Now the horrific floods in many parts of the world this past year take on an even more ominous long term shadow. Aagh! Will the bad news never end!
As Doris said, the report said there might be a link. The report says the research "showed", which is very strong language for something that "might" be correct. The hypothesis that tropical storms remove enough overburden to allow the built-up stress in the area of a fault to overcome the friction is farfetched given the scant info on how much material is removed, not just moved down-slope a short distance.
The depth of the actual fracture can allow the mass of the overlying rock and soil to be estimated. Where is the info on some actual measurement of increase in sediment downstream so the mass of the removed material might be known.
The researchers have only shown a weak temporal link between the supposed cause and the effect. The largest earthquakes occur in subduction zones that are under miles of ocean depth.
I've read several articles in the WSJ saying that when it's proved, or there is a strong correlation that climate change is caused by human greenhouse pollution the lawsuits will begin against big oil and coal. Of course big oil and coal don't want any chance of that happening therefore they are doing everything in their power to ensure governments deny that global warming is caused by human activity.
Last night on a program The Year the Earth Went Wild, a hypothesis was also presented that the weight of large storms can change air pressure on the crust beneath. Here again, no evidence. Mainly they were saying 2011 had the strongest El Nino ever recorded and unusually high earthquake activity.
After Climate Destabilization has unfolded another 50 years, these correlations will either disappear or appear obvious in hindsight.
Though the forces that are involved with earthquakes (plate tectonics) are quite massive, the balance between these forces might not always be so. This means that local events on top of these plates could potentially tip the balance ever so slightly in one direction with an earthquake as a result. That earthquake would've happened anyway, but perhaps these local events on top of the earth's crust cause these earthquakes to happen sooner, meaning that the balance in forces might last longer before finally resulting in an earthquake.
So although it is very hard to conclusively proof that indeed this is true scientific fact, it is certainly plausible.
Global warming is a fact, to what degree humans play a role in this is yet to be determined (to some degree). It is however a very plausible theory that is supported by a vast amount of evidence, and the scientific explanations behind it seem to hold water. The question is how much evidence and proof we would need, our current climate is the result of all past and present events in the atmosphere, influenced by each event, meaning that a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago that impacted the climate at the time still has some effect on the current happenings in our climate.
This results in a substantial margin for error when scientists run computer generated climate models, because there are some random number generators in these models, the end results differ from each time that they are generated, with a difference in outcome of around 7 degrees (if I remember well).
To some people this means that the science and theory are yet to be proven and that it should therefor not be considered a fact and should be taken less seriously then those that are (more) convinced of Anthropogenic Global Warming as a truth.
In the end whether you are convinced or not is to some degree a matter of belief and perhaps faith. We are easily convinced by anecdotal evidence from our own surroundings (freak weather) as well as global natural disasters to support our belief that greenhouse emissions created by humans is responsible for many of these disasters.
Some skeptics say that apocalyptic thinking is of all ages and people, and that this kind of doomsday thinking is better explained by our human psyche, or that our tendency to see our actions as being responsible for what happens in our environment is an evolutionary trait of humans. Our sins are responsible for the bad shit that happens, and our good deeds provide us with prosperity. This kind of thinking is not limited to religion, but karma and "justice" in the kind of Pat Robertson way are good examples of it.
There are many good ideas and arguments on both sides, without the scientific evidence that some feel is required to justify the expenses for drastically lowering our emissions the argument is going to last forever.
I tend to get criticized from both sides, as I feel that we should invest in lowering our emissions mainly because I feel that our dependency on fossil fuel is far too high and as a consequence we should invest in renewable energy anyway. We might as well take greenhouse gasses into consideration all the while considering the costs and the benefits of more then "just" greenhouse gasses. But the scientist in me would like to see more evidence, although I am quite unsure to which degree I could reasonably expect to get such evidence. Perhaps considering our current technology I am demanding a degree of certainty that cannot (yet) be met.
Very interesting but difficult topic, I tend to prefer local solutions fitted to the surroundings. Windmills for instance have caused the deaths of many a flying animal (mainly bats) and might not be a suitable solution to all energy problems. Likewise almost all current forms of renewable energy have some serious drawbacks. Anyone that claims to have a very simple solution to the problem is simply wrong, because in my opinion it is way to complex a subject.
Our energy demands have spread like an oil spill around us and has rooted itself deeply in earth's ecosystem, it will take a lot of effort to remove it and clean up the mess we have made.