Many who support what may seem to others as overstated climate change claims often ask how it is that reasonable people can balk at accepting their assertions. The latest ecological alarm, however, is one to answer that query and perhaps even to cause those who have gone along with the last decades of relentless doomsaying to consider the kind of exaggeration that might have found its way into this debate. Newsweek only weeks ago ran a warning that the sea level is not only rising, but doing so imperceptibly because the weight of the added water is compacting the ocean floors — pressing the surface of the Earth in upon itself (“The Ocean Floor Is Sinking Under the Water Weight from Melting Glaciers, and it’s as Bad as it Sounds,” 1/7/18).
The article references a paper published in the Geophysical Research Letters, treating a well-known facet of earth science concerning the elasticity of the surface of the Earth once great burdens of water and/or ice are added and later removed. For example, portions of the planet — in North America, Eurasia, Patagonia — once under colossal masses of glacial ice, for the last thousands of years have been slowly springing back, rising in elevation. The hardly earth-shattering finding of the scientists authoring the paper is that they’ve determined that the seafloor is being compressed by the almost imperceptibly additional width of a sheet of paper per year: “Hence, if satellite altimeters would observe sea level, the total volume increase would be underestimated by about 0.13 millimeters per year.” This possible microscopic tweaking of what “sea level” should mean precisely for specialists and researchers is yet somehow converted to another call to arms with a new catastrophe to trumpet: “sinking” ocean floors.
Unfathomably titanic forces are necessary, however, to cause mammoth sections of a planet to implode to any degree and be squeezed into the underlying substrata. These would be no paltry pressures, but instead would have to be measured in units too monumental to be easily comprehended. It’s seriously erroneous to even tentatively envision the infinitesimally trifling weight of some additional millimeters of run-off water spread across the vastness of 140 million square miles of planetary oceans, already on average over two miles deep, as anything even approaching what would be required to effect in the slightest what the title of the Newsweek article implies.
The computations are straight-forward. The world’s oceans are on average 12,100 feet deep, putting thousands of pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure on the oceanic floors. During each of the last several centuries sea level has risen approximately 7 inches every hundred years. The last ice age ended almost 12,000 years ago and the world’s great ice sheets have been melting ever since; seas have been rising for millennia. So calculating what the new pressure is today juxtaposed against what it was even an entire century ago should cause most rational people to realize instinctively that this comparatively meager addition of water at the surface (just over half a foot), by increased percentage of weight and pressure, would be scarcely measurable and the hard figures bear out that assumption — much in agreement with the tissue thin width extrapolation of the Geophysical Research Letter’s authors. The average pressure at the sea floor has been raised by .00005 — one half of one percent of one percent — going from 5,391.26 psi a hundred years ago to 5,391.52 psi currently. It’s a certainty that the dumbo octopus who live at those depths didn’t blink an eye at the undetectable and inappreciable uptick in pressure, and more importantly and with even greater surety, that the sea floor hardly buckled.
What is perhaps just as implausible as hundred million year old, hundred kilometer thick basaltic sea beds groaning under the latest sprinkling of meltwater are the hardly-foolproof methods by which such an impossible to note occurrence should even be captured. The attempt to measure a heaving, roiling, liquid, sloshing, storm-driven 326 million cubic mile planetary mass of water, moved constantly by tides, tectonics and wind, and to a precision of a few hair widths — and then intimate that the results are anything other than rough estimation — bears little resemblance to what can be gauged with confidence.
Scientists had always cautioned that “we know more about the surface of the Moon than about the bottom of the sea.” So it is truly incomprehensible that somehow in one great and magical leap that’s all been rectified, down to every square inch of the oceanic floors, everywhere, and all at once.
Hopefully, many clear-thinking people, having until now unquestioningly accepted anything that satisfies a strangely insistent end-days agenda, will take this supposed clarion call regarding our free-falling oceanic floors as good reason to more carefully scrutinize the entire issue.
David Nabhan is a science writer, the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three previous books on earthquakes. Nabhan is also a science fiction writer ("Pilots of Borealis," 2015) and the author of many scores of newspaper and magazine op-eds. Nabhan has been featured on television and talk radio all over the world. His website is www.earthquakepredictors.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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