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As I See It: Disasters everywhere, global warming, earthquakes

What’s happening in our world today? We hear of news mishaps, calamities, atrocities… every now and then. “Is this the effect of global warming? Is it another 9/11?”

The latest disaster worldwide was the 6.8 earthquake that happened in Morocco. About 2,500 (2,496 to be exact) were killed due to the calamity that hit the North American country that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea   to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to the east and the disputed territory of Western Sahara to the South. 

Residents were caught unaware and the death toll is still rising. International aids of many forms are coming in from various parts of the globe to be able to support the victims of the disaster. This must be the deadliest event in the history of Morocco.

Immediately, a question came into my mind: “Is there a connection between earthquakes and global warming?” I have the crazy idea that there was none, but there seem to be a logical connection when I tried to ponder on it for a moment.

According to Kori Williams in her published article lately, climate change and earthquakes are connected! She said: “There is actually some evidence that supports the idea that weather and global warming can affect seismic activity under the Earth’s surface. None of it is concrete, though, so experts can’t say for sure that the climate crisis actually causes earthquakes. But there is a connection!”

So, there is a connection, but how are they connected? Does global warming really cause earthquakes? “Although there is evidence of a connection between the weather and earthquakes, it’s probably not what you think, Williams said. In fact, there’s still a lot of research into this topic that needs to be done. But what we already know does give us additional insight into the negative effects of the ongoing climate crisis.”

While there is actually some evidence that supports the idea that weather and global warming can affect seismic activity under the Earth’s surface, none of it is concrete, so experts can’t say for sure that the climate crisis actually causes earthquakes. “But,” Williams said, “there is a connection.”

She based her story on NASA research and statistics. According to NASA, many earthquakes are caused by large downpours, like heavy rain or snow. They mess with fault lines, but this results in earthquakes so small that people often can’t even feel them. Still though, they are technically earthquakes.

NASA said there is a small connection, but the question is: Is it critical? Well, although just because weather affects earthquakes on a small scale doesn’t mean the same can be said for these kinds of life-changing events, the study contends.

Geophysicist Paul Lundgren who works in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said: “We’re simply not in a position at this point to say that climate processes could trigger a large quake. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The climate crisis may not directly cause earthquakes, but it has caused more extreme weather over the years. And it’s this intensity that can trigger earthquakes. All of this activity puts stress on fault lines, which is the basis for how quakes occur.”

On top of that, Williams also said that “we know that fracking, a process that contributes to global warming, has also caused earthquakes.” Fracking caused daily quakes in 2018 and 2019 in the U.K. France has even banned it in all its territories. Fracking itself is already dangerous to the environment because it releases methane, a greenhouse gas, into the air.

Fracking activities in the US is rampant, so this even makes the situation worse.

So, does fracking also cause earthquakes? According to the United States Government Survey (USGS), while most induced earthquakes are not directly caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), there are still many earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States, however, is primarily caused by disposal of waste fluids that are a byproduct of oil production.

USGS said wastewater disposal wells typically operate for longer durations and inject much more fluid than is injected during the hydraulic fracturing process, making them more likely to induce earthquakes. In Oklahoma, which has the most induced earthquakes in the United States, 2% of earthquakes can be linked to hydraulic fracturing operations. Given the high rate of seismicity in Oklahoma, this means that there are still many earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing. The remaining earthquakes are induced by wastewater disposal. The largest earthquake known to be induced by hydraulic fracturing in the United States was a magnitude 4.0 earthquake that occurred in 2018 in Texas.

Another dilemma we are faced is the recent wild fires in Hawaii. The devastating wildfires that erupted on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Aug. 8 have claimed the lives of at least 115 people while many more remain missing, according to authorities.

The deadly blaze in Lahaina started as brush fires and exploded into the town becoming the country’s deadliest wildfire in more than 100 years.

Locating remains and identifying victims has been a difficult process. Experts in examining human remains have been dispatched to Maui to help the local authorities.

Officials say the wildfires that erupted on Aug. 8 have become the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaii history. Climate change may have amplified the conditions that led to the deadly inferno on the Hawaiian island of Maui but it cannot be blamed entirely.

The story of this week’s blaze arguably began decades ago, when Hawaii started experiencing a long-term decline in average annual rainfall. Since 1990, rainfall at selected monitoring sites has been 31 percent lower in the wet season, and 6 percent lower in the dry season, according to work published in 2015   by researchers at the University of Hawaii and the University of Colorado.

There are multiple reasons for that change, according to Abby Frazier, a climatologist at Clark University who has researched Hawaii.

One factor is La Niña, a weather pattern that has usually led to significant rainfall but began delivering less precipitation beginning in the 1980s. Those weaker La Niñas “are not bringing us out of drought,” Dr. Frazier said in an interview earlier this year.

Another change: As temperatures increase, the clouds over Hawaii are thinner, Dr. Frazier said. And less cloud cover means less precipitation. On top of that, big storms have been moving north over time — delivering less of the rainfall that they typically bring to the islands.

All three changes are probably related to rising temperatures, Dr. Frazier said. “There’s likely a climate change signal in everything we see,” she said.

Almost 16 percent of Maui County, where the wildfires are burning, is in severe drought, according to data issued by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday; and an additional 20 percent is in moderate drought.

Today also, marks the anniversary of the tragic events on September 11, 2001.

Davina Hernandez, SJJC Center Director addressed the San Jose Job Corps Community by saying: “Good Morning, San Jose Job Corps Community! Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.  The attack on our country that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people is considered the worst attack against the homeland in our nation’s history.  Two planes were hijacked by the Al Qaeda terrorist group and flew into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York, while another plane was flown the Pentagon.  A fourth plane crashed into an open airfield and never made it to its intended destination after the heroic passengers of that flight fought back.  Even after over two decades after the attack, the process of identifying the remains of all killed at the World Trade Center still continues. 

Freedom comes at a very steep price.  For that price and sacrifices, we must remember the importance of appreciating the rights that this wonderful country has provided us. In remembrance of this day and to honor all of the lives taken, I call for a center-wide moment of silence at 1:00 PM today.”

Hernandez ended her message by saying: UNITED WE STAND!!! I like the message because it applies to all disasters, calamities, atrocities, etc., just like the Bayanihan concept of the Filipinos!

Pronounced like “buy-uh-nee-hun,” bayanihan is a Filipino word derived from the word bayan meaning town, nation, or community in general. “Bayanihan” literally means, “being a bayan,” and is thus used to refer to a spirit of communal unity and cooperation… united we stand!