Climate crisis has shifted the Earth’s axis, study shows
June 12, 2021 12:20 AM   Subscribe

Massive melting of glaciers has tilted the planet’s rotation, showing the impact of human activities Some scientists argue that the scale of this impact means a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – needs to be declared. Since the mid-20th century, there has been a marked acceleration of carbon dioxide emissions and sea level rise, the destruction of wildlife and the transformation of land by farming, deforestation and development.
posted by folklore724 (9 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Ooof. It'd be (terrifying but) interesting to know if there are any potential detrimental consequences to a rotational shift? (apart from all the ones already listed there)
posted by Ravneson at 1:02 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

It's a shift of less than ten metres. That's less than a millionth of the distance from pole to equator. I would expect any consequences of a shift of that order to be completely swamped by the direct effects of the atmospheric changes that caused it and by much larger atmospheric feedback effects like increased CO2 emissions from tundra where the permafrost is melting.
posted by flabdablet at 2:01 AM on June 12 [7 favorites]

Seems like it is a big enough effect to explain the leap-second hiatus. If we continue changing the earth's rotation at the same rate, we'll have negative leap seconds within a few decades (if the system of leap seconds isn't abandoned altogether).
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 10:05 AM on June 12

Now this is scary... entering, I'm taking it, new territory for human civilization, or has this happened before (shift of Earth's axis)? Can imagine should that continue, all sorts of processes may get knocked off.

I wish science, along with governments, would work with more urgency to find a solution. And I really hope that there is a solution, and it's not too late...
posted by DavidC83 at 10:55 AM on June 14

The solution is the same as the solution for all the other issues caused by anthropogenic global warming: STOP DE-SEQUESTERING FOSSIL CARBON. Like, yesterday.

At this point it's not really "science" that needs to work with more urgency; the necessity of urgent action has been made crystal clear by the overwhelming majority of scientists for forty years. It's political leadership that needs to have that sense of urgency, and the only way political leaders are ever going to be motivated to have that in sufficient numbers to overcome the influence of lobbying-addled colleagues is via direct pressure from those they purport to represent.
posted by flabdablet at 11:02 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


100% agreed but it's important to not forget that a whole 1/3 of total anthropogenic GHG emissions come from deforestation and other land use change, which are awful for many reasons other than global warming (mass extinction, anyone?), and no surprises when the sort of clowns who have been and will continue to ignore (or pay lip service to, same difference) the 40+ years of science will be all too glad to greenwash their way into schemes that will make fossil fuel extraction look good.

All in the name of ~sustainability~, of course.
posted by Bangaioh at 2:27 AM on June 15

I feel like the government will only seriously get involved when there are more drastic physical consequences that can be seen. When, unfortunately, we might be very late into the issues. Can't believe there isn't more sense of urgency with this. Should honestly be at the top of the list for most governments that can help / do something about it.
posted by DavidC83 at 8:16 AM on June 15

> I feel like the government will only seriously get involved when there are more drastic physical consequences that can be seen

People say this a lot but never gonna happen, they'll keep blaming it on the migrants, or the all-powerful environmentalist lobby preventing us from reaching our shining future of outer-space colonies, or the not-liberal-enough economic policies of affected regions (doncha know the Markets cure all ills?), or "that's just God's will, nothing anyone could have ever done to prevent it!", etc.

The longer it passes, the *less* likely it is something drastic will change, because resource constraints will only grow tighter, making it harder to justify any investment in changing things when there are more urgent needs at hand.
posted by Bangaioh at 4:05 AM on June 16

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