Reviews & Previews

BOOK REVIEW: Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes by Bill McGuire

Review by Alexandra Witze

1:03pm, May 4, 2012

Nearly any time a major natural disaster strikes — an earthquake in Japan, an eruption in Chile — someone tries to link it to climate change.

Usually such claims are bunk. But McGuire, a geologist at University College London, shows that there can be an underlying grain of truth. What happens in the atmosphere, it turns out, doesn’t stay in the atmosphere. Climate change can in fact affect the solid Earth and its natural hazards.

Consider the end of the last ice age, some 12,000 years ago. Changes in Earth’s orbit, along with rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, conspired to melt great glacial masses. As the ice melted, huge landscapes were suddenly relieved of their overlying burden. The ground rebounded, and stresses shifted within the crust. The result: more earthquakes in Scandinavia and more volcanic eruptions in Iceland.

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