Seismic Revolt

Nature is about to shake things up.

Photograph by the Pan-African News Wire via Flickr

There was something left unsaid in all the coverage about the powerful earthquakes that decimated Haiti in January and rattled Chile in February. Of course, we heard about the tragedy – the human tolls were covered in detail and made us acutely aware of our own vulnerability. But despite all that, no one wanted to discuss what caused these earthquakes. In an age where the materialist-scientific outlook peers into every dark corner of existence, leaving such an obvious question unasked suggests we can’t handle the answer.

It is time to confront the fact that climate change will manifest in unexpected ways, including violent earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. This is the position of respected scientists. As the New Scientist magazine reports without equivocation, “evidence of a link between climate and the rumblings of the crust has been around for years, but only now is it becoming clear just how sensitive rock can be to the air, ice and water above.” Or as Bill McGuire, Professor of Geological Hazards at University College London, writes in an earlier New Scientist article, “as the balance changes between the stresses acting on the crust and the strains held within it, the result can be an increase in volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.” Within the scientific community there appears to be a long-standing belief that there is a direct, causal connection linking earthquakes to climate change.

This connection is not being discussed because our civilization is unwilling to accept the full-spectrum reality of nature’s revolt. We are like the naive soldiers who came to battle prepared for trench warfare only to find their enemies armed with airplanes. We think of climate change as “global warming” alone and prepare ourselves psychically for delayed seasons while nature hits us from below – literally – with an earth-splitting seismic revolt. And as we scramble to amass the public funds necessary for retrofitting our decaying industrial infrastructure, nature will deploy volcanic ash to block out the sun and mysterious blights to erase our crops.

Nature is in revolt against our consumer culture. The only chance we have as a species is to heed its warnings, to trust that these sudden catastrophes augur a dark future that our governments, our money and our faith in progress cannot protect us from. Nature is the source of our sustenance and may easily become the cause of our death. Unless, that is, we are willing to risk joining nature’s earthly insurrection.

Micah White is a contributing editor at Adbusters and an independent activist. He is writing a book on the future of activism. or micah (at)