"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cat Had Kittens? Global Warming!

Long ago and far away, some time in the early 1960s, Mad Magazine did a short piece on hysterical fear of the atomic bomb. Not the quite reasonable fear that -- inasmuch as such things existed -- The Suits would do something truly stupid, but the irrational fear that whatever went wrong, it was the fault of the Atom Bomb. It took the form of a short list of bad things, followed by the explanation: Atom Bomb! I can't remember what the propositions were, but the last was, "Cat had kittens? Atom Bomb!"

For all we know, there was in fact some moonbat somewhere who, at the time, had a theory about a cause and effect relationship between slightly increased atmospheric radiation from open-air tests (long since banned), and feline fecundity. But Mad Magazine thought it was funny, and it was.

We don't know why we should be surprised that today's hysteria-du-jour should be structurally different; and it's not. Earthquake in Japan? Global Warming! It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

But wait! Operators are standing by and, if you call right now, there's more!
So far, today's tsunami has mainly affected Japan -- there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai -- but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity, albeit of a scale and nature quite different from Friday's tragedy.

A 2009 paper by Bill Mcguire, professor at University College London, says that "observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere."

It's important to note that this response has nothing to do with Friday's tsunami, which is a 'subduction zone earthquake,' whereas the tsunamis discussed by scientists cited here would be the product of catastrophic events -- collapse of methane hydrate deposits at the bottom of the ocean on the continental shelf, for example -- for which a tsunami would be but one of many negative impacts.

"When the ice is lost, the earth's crust bounces back up again and that triggers earthquakes, which trigger submarine landslides, which cause tsunamis," McGuire told Reuters. (McGuire's 2009 paper notes that such effects will be much more pronounced in areas with significant ice cover, in other words, at higher lattitudes.)

Melting ice masses change the pressures on the underlying earth, which can lead to earthquakes and tsunamis, but that's just the beginning. Rising seas also change the balance of mass across earth's surface, putting new strain on old earthquake faults . . . .
Actually, now that we think about it, it's entirely possibly that the world's feline population, stressed by man-made climate change, will respond with increased fertility, a great number of litters, and a larger number of kittens per litter. Cat had kittens? Global warming!


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