Saturday, May 12, 2012

Polar Reversal

What is it?
The basic theory here is that earth's poles will suddenly move out of alignment, disrupting the earth's magnetic field, thus causing cataclysmic weather and tectonic activity that will devastate our planet.

Oh no!
Proponents of this particular doomsday theory will tell you that it's been over 700,000 years since the last one, and that we're due for one. They will tell you that the earth's magnetic field has been declining for the past 2000 years. They will also tell you that the earth's magnetic field will drop to zero for a few days, causing violent weather, earthquakes and volcanoes.

It's all true?
It's true, the earth's magnetic field isn't fixed. It shifts over time. But this is totally normal. Research has shown that the earth has undergone magnetic field reversals many times in its life, although the intervals seem to be random - from 100,000 to 50 million years. So i'd wait for another 49.3 million years before saying we're due for another field shift. And, given the periods of time involved here, 2000 years of magnetic field declination is merely a blip on the chart.

The most important thing, though is that A) the magnetic field will NOT drop to zero, and B) the switching of magnetic fields can take hundreds of years. It does not happen overnight. There is no sudden moment where the earth ceases to have a magnetic field. What happens in this situation is a gradual shift in magnetic poles, they will split and slowly wander, before settling again. Again, this is something that happens over the course of thousands of years.

Incidentally, scientists studying the earth's geological record haven't found any reason to link volcanic or tectonic activity to the last polar shift.

So, given that the magnetic polar shift is a gradual process that takes thousands of years to complete, and doesn't follow any kind of knowable rhythm, do you think it's reasonable to predict one for this year? Let alone one that will disrupt our planet's weather and tectonic system?

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