Earth changes statistical update

Just over a year ago, the post What is the Transition? Part 1 presented statistics and charts showing that there is an acceleration in extreme weather events and geologic changes. And there have been several posts with specifics, including these:

     The Weather Gets Even Wilder

     Weather Wildness Update

     Britain faces choice of saving town or country from floods

This is a statistical update showing that this exceedingly important trend continues.

For starters, here is a chart from the world of yet another industry whose original intent–a way to spread financial risk that could overwhelm an individual to a wider community–has been perverted to massive investment pools from which any payment is not celebrated as a victory but is called a loss. Thus the chart of “Loss events worldwide 1980-2013” from the largest re-insurance company in the world, Munich Re. I use it so that any reader who might still be mired in “it’s just better reporting because of the internet” delusion about accelerating Earth changes–I heard of a person who still claimed that recently, so there must be more–can put that aside. So, not from the woo-woo world, but from the Mr. Gradgrind hard-nosed no-nonsense actuary-driven world where all things are calculated in currency and where the business model depends in great part on frightening people into buying more insurance than they need:

MunichReWeatherAndEarthChangesLines2wTextI added the cone lines highlighting the expansion of damaging floods (the blue portion of each bar) and storms (the green portion) from around 250 per year in the 1980s to around 700 per year for the last eight years. That’s a mighty clear indication of trend as opposed to outlier.

The chart does not show all damaging floods and storms, just those that caused losses for the insurance industry. The chart shows a similar acceleration in damages from “extreme temperature, drought, forest fire” (the yellow part of each bar).

It shows a fairly constant set of losses from geologic events, but this chart does not tell the true story of geologic events because, worldwide, very few have earthquake or volcanic eruption insurance, so there are relatively few loss events from these for the insurance industry.

According to those who closely monitor volcanic eruptions, these set a new all time record in 2013, with 84 volcanoes erupting, beating the previous record of 82 in 2010. There were even volcanic eruption clusters:

     Seven Volcanoes In Six Different Countries All Start Erupting Within Hours Of Each Other

And then there was this “minor problem”:

     Scientists find new volcano rumbling under Antarctica ice: 1,370 tremors: “It may blow or it may not. We don’t know.”

And with 32 volcanoes having already erupted this year, 2014 is off to a thundering and deadly start. After this in Indonesia:

     Villagers run for their lives as Sinabung volcano kills 16 in Indonesia

there was this from the Jakarta Post:

     19 more volcanoes on alert


     Electric universe: Pyroclastic flow from Sinabung volcanic eruption last month produced string of ‘tornados’

Here is a video link to those tornadoes.

If I had all the data to chart volcanic eruptions, it would likely look very much like this chart of the 10-year average of earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or greater, updated with 2013 data:


These days, the planet has one of these potentially damaging earthquakes on average every two and a half days, though more typically they come in clusters as well:

     Global outbreak of strong earthquakes on anniversary 9.0 Fukushima earthquake


There were no significant tsunamis in 2013, so my previous comment from the end of 2012 still seems appropriate:

According to data at the NOAA Global Historical Tsunami Database, which has records going back to 2000 BC, there have been 34 tsunamis with a wave height greater than twenty feet over the last 400 years. Six of those, or 18%, have occurred since the year 2000…In the Twentieth Century, there was a tsunami with a twenty foot wave height about once every ten years. In this century, it has happened once every two years, resulting in the deaths of a quarter million people despite the fact that none of these tsunamis struck a major city.

Sinkholes have continued unabated, though in the rain-drenched UK, there have been multiple large land movements:

     Huge cracks appear in Jurassic Coast a third of a mile inland after landslide in UK


And given that the world saw a very strange outbreak of mid-Winter brush and forest fires:

     Despite hurricane and record flooding, fire crews dealing with large bog fire near Aberystwyth, Wales

     Winter wildfire weirdness continues: Firefighters tackle 100-acre grass fire near Shawnee, Oklahoma

     Wildfire in western Broward burns 350 acres, Florida

     Are ‘drought conditions’ really to blame for winter wildfire outbreak across U.S.? Wildfire breaks out in Florida marshland‏

     Another wildfire in Norway: Fire on Norwegian coast destroys 140 buildings

     Fire devours historic Norwegian village, 90 people hospitalized

     Many Tibetan monasteries and famous sites destroyed this winter by mysterious ‘wildfires’

     Take cover! Meteor fireballs rain down across U.S. – Outbreaks of wildfires reported

it seems I would be remiss in not mentioning that meteor fireball sightings have been increasing dramatically in recent years. Confirmed sightings doubled from 2011 to 2013:


Do I report all this to frighten? Not at all. I report it because it is the reality in which we are living; because I have learned the hard way that standing firm in the face of nasty powerful trends is very high risk behavior and usually turns out poorly; and because I want those who read Thundering Heard–who are presumably open to the idea that the accelerating changes we are seeing in most fields of life are related and are very important for humanity and for each of us–to stay alive so that, after the collapse of the financial system, they are ready to help rebuild society based on principles that include wisdom, creative intelligence, and compassion rather than the rampant and self-defeating materialism that is disintegrating our precarious “civilization.” (The quotes around civilization refer to Gandhi’s remark: “What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea.”)

So as I say to my younger cats when they bound out the door at night to face the local wildlife: Be careful out there.

What is the Transition? Part 4

After a brief mention of other natural changes, I would like to move on and treat a difficult trend that is at the intersection of human activity and earth changes, followed by discussions of the effects of acceleration on people.

Other Earth Changes

There are other observable changes in the natural world such as:

–SINKHOLES: There has been a rapid increase in reports of sinkholes. No one keeps statistics on these, at least not yet. But ask yourself: twenty years ago, how often did you hear about sinkholes? Now, it’s tough to go a week or two without a report:

     Chinese village suffers over 20 sinkholes in five months

     In just one month, more than 40 huge sinkholes open up all over Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, but the city is too broke to fix them

     Russia: Giant Sinkhole in Dagestan

     Giant sinkhole swallows building in Bundaberg, Queensland, 10 more at risk

     Amazing pics of a hole that opened up the earth 

     Enormous sinkhole swallows buildings in Guangzhou, China

Sinkholes are becoming a worrying problem in China. In 2007, there were 54 sinkhole collapses, and by 2009, that number was all the way up to 129. According to one estimate, between July 21st and August 12th 2012, 99 sinkhole collapses occurred just in Beijing.

     The Great Collapse: crust weakening, slipping, and collapsing across the planet – UK, Spain, Kashmir, China, U.S.

–ASTEROIDS, fireballs in the sky: The world of youtube has been showing what appears to be quite an increase in meteorites/fireballs over the last several years. Within the last three months, however, these have gone mainstream media:

     Newfound Asteroid Buzzes Earth Inside Moon’s Orbit — Asteroid 2012 XE54 was discovered in December just two days before passing Earth inside the moon’s orbit;

Then there was the meteor that hit Russia on Feb 14, shown all over the web, including here and here; and,

     2012 DA14, which passed inside the orbit of geosynchronous communication satellites, missing the planet by 17,000 miles on Feb 15.

–COMETS: Of the many comets that pass the earth each year–most of them not visible to the naked eye–there is great interest among comet-watchers in one scheduled for this year, called 2012 S1 (ISON), which has the potential to become exceedingly bright and which some comet watchers claim will have important influences on Earth.

We will delay further discussion of this asteroid and comet phenomenon for the upcoming section of this series that deals with Predictions, though it seems worthwhile to note that Russia and all of us were very lucky: that meteorite in Russia exploded near Chelyabinsk where large amounts of nuclear waste and dangerous industrial chemical wastes are stored. We are all fortunate that the meteorite did not strike these directly, which leads in to the next topic.

Nuclear Power Plants

Virtually all nuclear power plants are situated adjacent to a body of water that is typically used to cool the plant. With the major trend increases in storms, floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes documented in Part 1 and Part 2, combined with decades of “profits above all else” at many of the corporations running these nuke plants, to say that this situation is dangerous requires a new category well beyond understatement.

     US: Flood Berm Collapses at Nebraska Nuclear Plant


     UK nuclear sites at risk of flooding, report shows

As many as 12 of Britain’s 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change, according to an unpublished government analysis obtained by the Guardian.

Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future.

And of course we all know more than we ever wanted to know about what happens when a tsunami hits a nuke plant. If anyone thinks the Fukushima problem is over, they have been ignoring the news flow on that topic. Even in the unlikely event that there are no additional difficulties from the cores and spent fuel at Fukushima, the damage from the original event is not over:

     Tokyo almost as irradiated as Fukushima

     Bluefin Tuna Caught Near California Still Radioactive Years After Fukushima

     Meet Mike, The Most Radioactive Fish Ever From Fukushima

     More Fukushima nuclear pollution to hit U.S. starting in 2015

     Study: Contaminated water from Fukushima reactors could double radioactivity levels of US coastal waters in 5 years — “We were surprised at how quickly the tracer spread” (PHOTO & VIDEO)

While many consider Fukushima to be a one-off event, it seems to me that logic dictates that the acceleration in earth changes plus the location of these plants next to water means that we have an extremely unfortunate emerging trend on our hands.

In Part 5, I’ll begin treatment of the human side of acceleration and the Transition.