How Oil Puts the Planet on Tilt

There is a fascinating new paper out describing how rapid oil & resource extraction may be changing how the earth spins. That, in turn, could influence weather.

Read on for the paper’s summary. The paper itself is being presented this week at the AGU Chapman Conference on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences in India:

earth Consequences of Fossil Fuel Extraction on the Climate Change of the Earth

The understanding of the causes of climate  change of the earth is a very complex process. It can not be explained on the basis of one or two factors because it is governed by the various processes going  on for a long time in the solar system. We are creating more complexity in the climate change by ruthless exploitation of natural resources of the earth  which is resulting in the climate change at a faster rate. The climate change such as global warming due to burning of fossil fuels, i.e. coal, minerals, gases etc. is very well  reported  in the literature, but very little work has been done on the contribution of the  extraction of fossil fuel from the earth’s crust, in changing various physical properties of the earth, affecting the climate of the earth. 

The extraction of fossil is a very old practice but for last 6-7 decades, it has increased very rapid. The imbalance between extraction and generation of fossil fuel is increasing day by day, which is changing the climate, of the earth in a different way. The change in the mass of the earth due to the extraction of fossil fuel from the earth’ crust, is changing the moment of inertia of the earth because the  extraction  is at the farthest distance from the axis of rotation. Thus a small change in the mass in the earth crust will affect the moment of inertia substantially. In order to conserve the angular moment ( L = IW), the angular frequency of the earth on its own axis as well as around the sun, must change. On the other hand the extraction of fossil fuels may not  be uniform throughout the earth, as the extraction  in northern hemisphere is reported to be  much higher than in southern hemisphere which may cause weight imbalance around the axis of rotation of the earth as well as around the sun. This may result in the change of the angle of tilt of the earth. This change in the tilt may be a very important factor, contributing in changing the climate at various places of the earth. Thus,  the extraction of fossil fuels may contribute to the  change in  various mechanical properties of the earth,  making the process of climate change such as global warming more complex to understand.  

We shall  give an account of  the change in the physical properties of the earth  rotation such as moment  inertia and angular velocity resulting from the extraction of fossil fuel and  predict its impact on climate change of the earth.

I haven’t read the whole paper, so I have no idea how credible the maths are, but I do dig the heroic banging together of oil, complexity and the earth’s angular momentum in a single paper.