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Rotation = Climate? August 31, 2007

Posted by davegoblog in Climate Change, Science.


I’ve seen this twice now on the editorial page of the local weekly Sun News:

People can’t control Earth’s movements

To the editor:

Earth is revolving at more than 1,000 miles per hour.  It is constantly finding its balance, resulting in upheavals and wobbling on its axis.

At present, the north axis is tilting more toward the sun and the south away from the sun.  Argentina had its early snowfall, the north pole is melting.

We have no control over Earth’s cyclical movements or climate.”

First, Earth rotates on its axis at more than 1,000 mph while it revolves around the sun at about 67,000 mph.  That’s a common enough mistake to make.  I have to stop and think about it myself sometimes.  Affect vs. effect.  Imply vs. infer.

Second, I agree that we (humans) have no control over Earth’s cyclical movements.  Factors that do affect the rotation of Earth include distance from the Sun, impacts from meteorites, earthquakes, and the tidal pull of the moon.  The length of a day is increasing by approximately 1.7 milliseconds per century due to the decrease in rotation.  There you go, Anthony.  A longer day!

However, the problem I have is with the last two words, “or climate.”  They’re just innocuously tacked onto the end of the editorial.  To me, the author is implying that since we cannot control Earth’s rotation, we therefore do not have the ability to influence Earth’s climate.  He assumes that climate is shaped 100% by the rotation and that there are no other causes.

According to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Summary for Policymakers states:

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

“Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (confidence level >90%) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (derived from human activities) greenhouse gas concentrations.”

Okay, you make the call.  I plan to write a response to the Sun News.



1. Anthony - August 31, 2007

Great post Dave. And thank you for my longer day! Although it looks like it’ll take about 16,941,176 centuries for me to get the full 32 hours that I need.

2. Ged - August 31, 2007

You definitely should do more science related posts. You could be come one of the coolest chemistry and science blogs on the internet! Well, post about anything you want, I’ll still visit. This was a good one.

3. Nothing to See Here « gedblog - September 3, 2007

[…] that climate change is real, it’s just not humans who are causing it. It has to do with the wobble of the earth, or sun spots, or water vapor or cycles or… or… whatever! Just not CO2 in the […]

4. davegoblog - September 4, 2007

Part of the reason I started the blog was so I could write about cool things happening in science with leanings toward chemistry. Write what you know. I also plan to continue writing on other topics as well. Thanks for the encouragement!

5. kristinasworld - September 8, 2007

I think we can affect our planet much more than we realize, and I think we can pollute it mentally/psychologically, as well as physically…

Interesting read – thank you!


6. Climate Security Act « Living in the now - May 29, 2008

[…] and science is self-correcting.  The evidence is overwhelming, and as the IPCC has previously said, “Warming of the climate system is […]

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