CO2 Causes Earthquakes! Really?


Number of worldwide earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 or greater over the last two decades. British Geological Survey

From the “Headlines Claim, Details Deny” department comes this whopper regarding climate effects on seismic activity in Canada.

Natural disasters are expected to increase as climate change pushes global temperatures higher, and some scientists believe earthquakes will also become more frequent. Global News (here)

The alarm is sounded by one scientist, Bill McGuire, writing in the Guardian last fall:

“An earthquake fault that is primed and ready to go is like a coiled spring … all that is needed to set it off is – quite literally – the pressure of a handshake,” writes scientist Bill McGuire, author of Waking the Giant: How a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes.

As usual with these alarmist pieces, if you bother to read the details in the text, you discover the headline is misleading or totally false. (“Fake News,” anyone?).

After quoting that scary claim, the article goes on to make numerous statements of fact contradicting Mr. McGuire.

While many parts of the country are prone to seismic activity, experts say Canadians shouldn’t worry about their city or town suddenly becoming a earthquake hot spot due to a warmer atmosphere.

Earthquakes rattle Canada thousands of times every year — there are an estimated 2,500 annually in Western Canada alone. Thanks to the Internet, social media and apps, we’re now more aware of the activity that has always commonly occurred.

“Climate change is not something that just started,” noted Christie Rowe, assistant professor in earth and planetary sciences at McGill University.

“All the earthquake patterns that we know of are basically [from] the last century. So the patterns that we know of are already happening in the climate changing world.”

“A lot of people think there’s suddenly an increase but it’s just that they’re getting a lot more coverage than they used to,” said Alison Bird, earthquake seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada.

Climate change, “won’t generally cause more earthquakes to happen,” Bird said.

“No, climate change will not result in increased earthquake activity,” agreed Gail Atkinson, professor of earth sciences at Western University, in an email to Global News.

“The glaciers receded from the last ice age, which was considerable time ago — we’re talking about thousands of years,” said Bird. “Because the weight of those glaciers receding has been lifted, the ground is slowly moving up after having that weight removed from it, and you can have earthquakes because of that sort of thing. They tend to be quite small.”

While there may be more small events, Canada’s sparsely-populated Arctic is unlikely to suddenly see massive seismic activity.


Note the flip-flopping (equivocation) around the term “climate change”. When geologists and seismologists are speaking within their discipline, they are referring to natural changes over thousands of years. With activists “climate change” serves as code for CO2 causing global warming.

Reading the article again, it actually serves to debunk McGuire’s claims, except for the first paragraph or two. The journalist actually sought the views of level-headed experts and printed them for readers to have as context. The gruel is getting pretty thin for desperate alarmists.

thisguyisfalling2R. I. P.  Chicken Little.

More on counterfactual headlines at Headlines Claim, but Details Deny

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