Is Global Warming Triggering More Earthquakes?

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Image by Alex Healing / Creative Commons

With the recent earthquakes we’ve been experiencing and hearing about in the news, I thought it would be a good opportunity to touch on whether or not global warming, or climate change, could be contributing to the seemingly increased quake activity and how we can be prepared in case of an earthquake.

Now to start off, you’ve probably heard about the recent magnitude 8.6 earthquake off the west coast of Northern Sumatra, followed by an 8.2 aftershock.

Image from USGS

You also may have heard about the magnitude 6.5 earthquake in Mexico that could be felt all the way to Mexico City. Did you hear about the magnitude 5.9 earthquake off the coast of Oregon? And what about the magnitude 6.9 earthquake in the Gulf of California? How about this morning’s 6.0 in Iwaki, Japan or the 5.7 in Santiago Pinotepa Nacional, Mexico? Just take a look at the number of earthquakes that are happening on a daily basis. This graph is a clear indication of the location, magnitude and frequency of earthquakes around the world over the past five years.

Accordingly to the USGS, and as of this writing, there have been more than 7099 earthquakes in the last 30 days alone. In the past seven days over 280 of those earthquakes were magnitude 2.5 or greater.

But if you take a look at the graphs below, you’ll see that we are not experiencing any dramatic increase in seismic activity, especially from larger magnitude earthquakes. In fact, the USGS states:

“We continue to be asked by many people throughout the world if earthquakes are on the increase. Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant.”

That means there is no real indication that global warming, climate change, or any other significant man-made factor is triggering more earthquakes. Not to say those things aren’t contributing factors to the stress of the planet, or that they won’t be a significant contributing factor in the future, but at this point none of them are THE factor behind earthquakes.

The fact is that the planet is billions of years old, spinning through space, with an inner core reaching temperatures of up to 9800°F. The Earth is constantly changing. Of course, with more than 7 billion people inhabiting the planet, we are bound to have some kind of an impact on those changes.

That is why it is important to take care of this planet, because it’s the only one we’ve got right now. Earthquakes will continue to happen though, regardless, so while we take actions to reduce, reuse, recycle and care for the Earth, we also need to ensure we are prepared for when those earthquakes do happen.

The USGS recommends you have these supplies on hand in case of an earthquake. Here are also a few other eco-friendly items you might want to have in your earthquake kit. If you have pets, don’t forget to have a pet survival kit for them as well. Your pets will have needs, as you will, so it is important to be prepared to care for them. Just in case, you might want to get a waste bag kit and some poo powder too. You never know how long you’re going to be without standard amenities after an earthquake.

When it all comes down to it, while global warming may not be triggering more earthquakes, earthquakes are going to continue happening, so are other natural disasters. The important thing is to be prepared. Are you prepared? If not, what are you waiting for?

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