With the global warming induced spreading of beetles set to turn the borreal forest from a carbon sink into a huge net emitter, to the horrific news that the methane train is leaving the station, you’d think, at first blush, this report on increased volcanic activity, is a sign that nature is piling on. Nature is starting to resemble the plagues of Egypt.
Carolina Pagli of the University of Leeds, UK, and Freysteinn Sigmundsson of the University of Iceland have calculated the effects of the melting on the crust and magma underneath.
They say that, as the ice disappears, it relieves the pressure exerted on the rocks deep under the ice sheet, increasing the rate at which it melts into magma. An average of 1.4 cubic kilometres has been produced every century since 1890, a 10% increase on the background rate.
What happens when the pressure is relieved?
He and his team are looking into the effects that rising sea-levels – also a consequence of melting ice caps – will have on volcanoes. “We are going to see a massive increase in volcanic activity globally,” he told New Scientist. “If we look back at previous warm periods, that is what happened.”
But is this really so bad? Beyond the immediate death and destruction – could there be deliverance? A natural phenomenon akin to a parting of the Red Sea?
My illogic goes something like this:
1. global warming causes massive volcanic irruptions,
2. and the irruptions will fill the atmosphere with dust,
3. and the dust will cool the planet bringing us back into balance.
4. and all will have been for the best, in the best of all possible worlds. Candide
(Then we can, do doubt, wreck the place all over again – for we know not what we do…oops wrong book, it’s been very confusing here in NYC this past week.)
Or could the irruptions just be another sign that we’re bringing hell to earth – to us and our children?