Earthquakes and Climate

April 14, 2011

In light of the ongoing horror in Japan — an earthquake induced nuclear meltdown — there’s been a dust-up down in my old stomping ground of central California as PG&E attempts to renew the license at its most-aptly named Diablo Canyon (Nuclear) Power Plant.
Although PG&E has delayed a decision on the 20-year license, no one in San Luis Obispo County (where Diablo is located) wants the horror-accident-waiting-to-happen to gain a renewal.

Organizations as diverse as the county Board of Supervisors and the anti-nuclear group San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace want all license renewal activities stopped until the earthquake studies are done in light of the nuclear disaster in Japan, not just a possible postponement of a final decision.

Earthquakes and radiation poisoning — goes together, huh, like flapjacks and syrup.
(Illustration found here via Google Images).

There’s great reason to be concerned — now there’s a tie between ground shaking and climate change.
From AFP on Wednesday (via Raw Story):

Scientists have for the first time shown a link between intensifying climate events and tectonic plate movement in findings that could provide a valuable insight into why huge tremors occur.
Understanding why plates change direction and speed is key to unlocking huge seismic events such as last month’s Japan earthquake, which shifted the Earth’s axis by several inches, or February’s New Zealand quake.

“The closure or opening of new ocean basins or the build of large mountain bands like the Andes or Tibet itself, those are geological processes that affect the pattern of climate,” said Iaffaldano (lead researcher Giampiero Iaffaldano), an earth scientist with the Australian National University.
“We are showing for the first time that the opposite also is true, that the pattern of climate is then able to affect back in a feedback mechanism the motion of tectonic plates.”

Somehow this isn’t new — two years ago the UK’s Royal Society linked the two nasties.
From the Society‘s abstract on the study:

Periods of exceptional climate change in Earth history are associated with a dynamic response from the geosphere, involving enhanced levels of potentially hazardous geological and geomorphological activity.
The response is expressed through the adjustment, modulation or triggering of a broad range of surface and crustal phenomena, including volcanic and seismic activity, submarine and subaerial landslides, tsunamis and landslide ‘splash’ waves, glacial outburst and rock-dam failure floods, debris flows and gas-hydrate destabilization.

That just about covers it.

And as one knows, Diablo is the Spanish word for devil — fairly right on.
As a journalist, I’d covered the nuclear question (and fright) for residents living within range of Diablo Canyon Power Plant, especially the angle from the above-mentioned Mothers for Peace and how Diablo — which sits like a sprawled whore right on the precipice of the Pacific — is just one of 104 such monstrosities across the US.
Them Mothers say it for all sane peoples:

The world has ignored the warnings from Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
The catastrophe in Japan now reignites the debate regarding the viability of nuclear energy.
Is it worth the risk?
Mothers for Peace perseveres towards the ultimate safety plan: closed and decommissioned nuclear facilities.

However, it just might be too late, there, momma.

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