The National Geographic apparently felt compelled to attack a recent online warning about geomagnetic reversals.
In a piece entitled “No, We’re Not All Doomed by Earth’s Magnetic Field Flip,” journalist Nadia Drake valiantly tries to defend the magazine’s stance. She begins by pooh-poohing the idea of a “geomagnetic apocalypse” or the notion that “life on Earth would cease to exist as we know it.”
Then, after laughing at the very idea, she concedes that “our planet’s magnetic field helps shield us from damaging solar and cosmic radiation,” and that “a protracted flip means Earth might be slightly less protected from harmful space rays for longer than we would like.”
“If the magnetic field gets substantially weaker and stays that way for an appreciable amount of time,” Drake continues, “everything on the planet will be exposed to higher levels of radiation, which over time could produce an increase in diseases like cancer, as well as harm delicate spacecraft and power grids on Earth.
Hmmm. Increased cancer rates and a downed power grid. That may not spell doom and gloom to Drake, but it does sound rather gloomy to me.
In an attempt to downplay the risk even more, Drake assures us that “Lots of doomsday prophets have tried to equate geomagnetic flips with mass extinctions, but the data just aren’t there.”
The data isn’t there?
What about the Gothenburg magnetic excursion of 12,000 years ago?
As I point out in Not by Fire but by Ice, the Gothenburg magnetic excursion coincided with a short-term period of ice and snow known as the Younger Dryas. The Gothenburg magnetic excursion correlates with the extinction of 40 percent of the large animal species on our planet, including the mammoth, the mastodon, the sabre-toothed cat, the short-faced bear, the glyptodont, the great dire wolf, and many others. How can anyone say the data isn’t there?
What about the Mono Lake magnetic excursion of 23,000 years ago, which coincided with an extinction and catastrophic glaciation?
What about the Lake Mungo (Australia) magnetic excursion of 33,500 years ago, which coincided with an extinction, and when rapid glaciation immediately followed a period of warmth?
What about the Blake magnetic reversal of 115,000 years ago at the end-Eemian. It also coincided with a period of rapid glaciation following a period of warmth? (The Eemian Period was even warmer than today.)
What about Biwa I, a reversal about 195,000 years ago? Or Biwa II, a reversal about 286,000 years ago? Or Biwa III, about 390,000 years ago?
Each of those magnetic reversals (or excursions, if you prefer) coincided with rapid ice build up and glaciation.
And when it comes to the “higher levels of radiation” that Drake alludes to, scientists have shown that accumulation rates of radioactive beryllium-10 sometimes double, even triple, at geomagnetic reversals. How can anyone say the data isn’t there?
One last thing: Drake ever so cleverly sneaks in the statement that “climate change seems to be shifting Earth’s geographic poles.”
Really? Climate change is shifting the geographic poles? Who could ever take National Geographic’s views on climate change seriously after a statement such as that?
Note: I think magnetic reversals also drive evolution, but that’s another story.
See National Geographic article:
Thanks to Rosco Mac for this link