Ridge Runner Chronicles – February 8, 2023
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What in the World Is Going On?
By Bill Hoagland
I have been on this planet a long time—longer than a lot of folks actually. But this past week, I learned two new things about this planet that are surprising and a bit concerning. First, it appears that something unusual is happening deep inside our beloved planet; second, something unusual is also happening at our north and south poles.
As you may know, Planet Earth has several layers to it. The outermost layer is the crust, where we live. Beneath the crust is the mantle, which has a semi-molten composition and beneath that are the outer core and the inner core of the planet. The outer core, extremely hot, is liquified but the inner core, composed of iron and magnesium, is solid. This inner core has been rotating in one direction for years but it is detached from the outer core, the mantle and the crust, so that the inner core can rotate at its own speed irrespective of how fast the rest of the layers are rotating. That fact seems weird in itself, but here is where things really get weird: Chinese scientists recently determined that the inner core may have slowed down, stopped or may now be rotating in the opposite direction while the rest of the layers are still going in the same direction as before. While some authorities claim this directional change at the inner core should be of no concern, others point out that it is the ongoing interaction and movement between the inner core and outer core that generate Earth’s magnetic fields. All experts at least agree that the continued existence of our magnetic fields in their present locations are vital for our survival so maybe what is happening at the inner core is important.
That leads us to the second recent revelation about Planet Earth: according to some experts, it appears that the magnetic fields at the north and south poles could be in the process of “flipping” or reversing. As you may know, there are basically two north poles—the geographic north pole, which is an imaginary point at the exact center of the top of Planet Earth, and the magnetic north pole, which is the spot you can locate on your compass. There is also a true geographic south pole and a magnetic south pole, but I digress. The magnetic north pole is transitory and for years, has been slowly moving across northern Canada and most recently, across Siberia. In fact, if you were to look at your hand-held compass right now, the north prong is pointing to a spot in northern Russia. The concern among scientists who made a living studying this stuff is that the magnetic north pole may be moving to a geographic point where the north and south magnetic poles will flip, with the magnetic north pole becoming the south magnetic pole and the south magnetic pole becoming the north.
According to most experts, we have not had a complete magnetic pole reversal for over 40,000 years but if and when one occurs, it is believed that the magnetic field strength will be significantly reduced during the period of time that the poles are completely reversed. Our current magnetic fields at both the north and south poles protect us from solar radiation but if these magnetic fields were somehow reduced as the result of a complete pole reversal, it could destroy life as we know it.
These recent revelations are really just hypothesizes—theories, if you will—and nothing more than that. In fact, there is substantial disagreement among the experts regarding even these basic issues. But most experts say that for now, these terrestrial developments should not be of immediate concern. Michio Kaku, the renowned physicist, for example, in interviews this past week, seemed to laugh off what might be happening at Earth’s core while acknowledging that it is entirely possible that the inner core may now be spinning in the opposite direction.
So we are told not to worry but you do have to wonder if these terrestrial changes somehow impact human behavior. We know the behavior of humans and animals are subtly impacted by whether we have a full moon for example, so who is to say these terrestrial changes are not also slowly impacting human behavior and making the human race collectively irrational; I am referring not only to the ongoing mass shootings and suicide bombs but also this universal race to build more effective nuclear bombs that will eventually destroy Planet Earth forever. If you think hydrocarbons and bovine flatulence are ruining our environment, just wait until we start tossing a few nukes back and forth.
Okay, maybe these terrestrial changes have no impact on human behavior whatsoever, but seriously, does anyone have a rational explanation as to what the heck is going on? I don’t.
■ Bill Hoagland has practiced law in Alton for more than 50 years, but he has spent more than 70 years hunting, fishing and generally being in the great outdoors. His wife, Annie, shares his love of the outdoor life. Much of their spare time is spent on their farm in Calhoun County. Bill can be reached at email@example.com.