How Oil Puts the Planet on Tilt

Feb. 18, 2010 7:50 AM ETXLE, USO, DBO, OIL-OLD70 Comments
Paul Kedrosky profile picture
Paul Kedrosky

There is a fascinating new paper out describing how rapid oil and resource extraction may be changing how the earth spins. That, in turn, could influence weather.

Read on for the paper’s summary. The paper itself is being presented this week at the AGU Chapman Conference on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences in India:

earth Consequences of Fossil Fuel Extraction on the Climate Change of the Earth

The understanding of the causes of climate change of the earth is a very complex process. It can not be explained on the basis of one or two factors because it is governed by the various processes going on for a long time in the solar system. We are creating more complexity in the climate change by ruthless exploitation of natural resources of the earth which is resulting in the climate change at a faster rate. The climate change such as global warming due to burning of fossil fuels, i.e. coal, minerals, gases etc. is very well reported in the literature, but very little work has been done on the contribution of the extraction of fossil fuel from the earth’s crust, in changing various physical properties of the earth, affecting the climate of the earth.

The extraction of fossil is a very old practice but for last 6-7 decades, it has increased very rapid. The imbalance between extraction and generation of fossil fuel is increasing day by day, which is changing the climate, of the earth in a different way. The change in the mass of the earth due to the extraction of fossil fuel from the earth’ crust, is changing the moment of inertia of the earth because the extraction is at the farthest distance from the axis of rotation. Thus a small change in the mass in the earth crust will affect the moment of inertia substantially. In order to conserve the angular moment ( L = IW), the angular frequency of the earth on its own axis as well as around the sun, must change. On the other hand the extraction of fossil fuels may not be uniform throughout the earth, as the extraction in northern hemisphere is reported to be much higher than in southern hemisphere which may cause weight imbalance around the axis of rotation of the earth as well as around the sun. This may result in the change of the angle of tilt of the earth. This change in the tilt may be a very important factor, contributing in changing the climate at various places of the earth. Thus, the extraction of fossil fuels may contribute to the change in various mechanical properties of the earth, making the process of climate change such as global warming more complex to understand.

We shall give an account of the change in the physical properties of the earth rotation such as moment inertia and angular velocity resulting from the extraction of fossil fuel and predict its impact on climate change of the earth.

I haven’t read the whole paper, so I have no idea how credible the maths are, but I do dig the heroic banging together of oil, complexity and the earth’s angular momentum in a single paper.

This article was written by

Paul Kedrosky profile picture
Dr. Paul Kedrosky maintains a widely-read blog on technology finance at ( Earlier in his career, Dr. Kedrosky founded the technology equity research practice at HSBC James Capel. Dr. Kedrosky was one of the first analysts to cover Internet companies, as well as making early and timely calls in networking and communications. He currently sits on various boards, is a strategist for Ten Asset Management in Encinitas, California, and a Senior Fellow with the Kauffman Foundation. He appears regularly on CNBC, and has also appeared on CNN, PBS Newshour, ABC Nightline, and elsewhere, as well as being quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.

Recommended For You

Comments (70)

To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.