The appearance of newly formed land along Shiretoko Peninsula’s southeastern coast is causing a stir. The unexplained mass measures roughly 300 meters to 500 meters long, 30 meters wide and rises 10 to 15 meters above sea level, a town official said April 25, a day after it was discovered. A local woman who was harvesting seaweed along the shoreline on the morning of April 24 noticed the area seemed to be slightly more elevated than the last time she was there. When she finished her task, the area had risen even further, exceeding her height.
Locals baffled by expanded coastline in eastern Hokkaido, Asahi Shimbun, 25 April 2015
It is not the intention of this paper to argue whether the International Panel on Climate Change is right or wrong. The intention of this paper is to show how natural forces (in particular the current prolonged low sunspot activity of the sun) affect a number of risks that should interest actuaries. These include human mortality, natural events such as major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, direct weather related risks, in particular, from weather extremes. There are a second category of risks that are important. These include risks relating to food and energy security, the political risks arising from unaffordable increases in the price of these commodities, crop insurance and other forms of insurance that are affected by climatic extremes. There is also the risk that if our profession does not recognise the risk implications of these changes in the sun our reputation could be significantly impaired.
Brent Walker, The New Solar Grand Minimum, presented to the Actuaries Institute (Sydney), Actuaries Summit, 20-21 May 2013,
We affirm therefore that the occurrence of a major volcanic eruption, greater or equal to VEI4 index, during the weak solar cycles, is statistically significant and justifies the hypothesis of large volcanic eruptions in the next decade, with reference not only to the weakness of the current solar cycle SC24, but the probable entrance, in a long and deep solar minimum, during the transition to the next solar cycle SC25. Assumption formulated by many solar physicists.
Natural fluctuations in the ocean temperature in the North Atlantic have a significant impact on the climate in the northern hemisphere. These fluctuations are the result of a complex dance between the forces of nature, but researchers can now show that solar activity and the impact of volcanic eruptions have led this dance during the last two centuries…During the last approximately 250 years — since the period known as the Little Ice Age — a clear correlation can be seen where the external forces, i.e. the Sun’s energy cycle and the impact of volcanic eruptions, are accompanied by a corresponding temperature fluctuation with a time lag of about five years.
Temperature fluctuations: Atlantic Ocean dances with the sun and volcanoes, ScienceDaily, 31 March 2014
Geologically speaking, the current development is nothing new…The engine of climate change is solar activity. In addition, tectonic movements and the shifting of the seasons in the northern hemisphere play a role. Volcanoes can also be a trigger.
Christian Schlüchter, Professor emeritus for Quaternary Geology and Paleoclimatology at the University of Bern in Switzerland, 7 June 2014
The impact of solar cycles and volcanoes on climate has been neglected for decades, even though the correlation between solar activity (sunspots, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, filament eruptions, etc.)and volcanism has been known for quite some time (cf. Stothers, R.B., 1989: Volcanic eruptions and solar activity, J. Geophys. Res., 94; Střeštik, J., Possible correlation between solar and volcanic activity in a long-term scale, International Solar Cycle Studies (ISCS) Symposium, 23 – 28 June 2003; Courtillot V. et al., Are there connections between the Earth’s magnetic field and climate?, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 253(3), 2007; Khain & Khalilov, About possible influence of solar activity on seismic and volcanic activities: long-term forecast, Science without Borders, Transactions of the International Academy of Science H & E, Vol.3. 2007/2008; Toshikazu Ebisuzakiet al. Explosive volcanic eruptions triggered by cosmic rays: Volcano as a bubble chamber, Gondwana Research, June 2011; Sun wakes volcanoes up, Jupiter makes them sleep, Pravda, 15 June 2011; Herbert R. Shaw, James G. Moore, Magmatic heat and the El Niño cycle,Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, June 2011; Solar: A force to be reckoned with, The Actuary, 5 December 2013; Temperature fluctuations: Atlantic Ocean dances with the sun and volcanoes, Science Daily, 31 March 2014; J. G. Anet et al., Impact of solar versus volcanic activity variations on tropospheric temperatures and precipitation during the Dalton Minimum, Clim. Past, 10, 921–938, 2014).
There are indications that we are in a transition period, progressing towards a Grand Solar Minimum (Solar activity heads for lowest low in four centuries, New Scientist, 1 November 2013).
If that is indeed the case, given what we know about the aforementioned correlation between our star and volcanoes, it is more than likely that we will have to deal with increased underwater volcanic activity, due to changes in the geomagnetic field intensity (John Cassidy, Geomagnetic excursion captured by multiple volcanoes in a monogenetic field, Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 33, Issue 21, November 2006), with additional climatic effects (Study finds Arctic seabed afire with lava-spewing volcanoes, canada.com, 25 June 2008; Seafloor Volcano Pulses May Alter Climate, the Earth Institute, 5 February 2015; Underwater Volcanoes May Play Bigger Role in Influencing Climate Change Than You Think, Tech Times, 7 February 2015; Same forces as today caused climate changes 1.4 billion years ago, phys.org, 10 March 2015).
Because submarine volcanoes (they number in the millions!) sometimes grow into islands, displacing large amounts of water, they are apt to unleash coastal inundations (and redirect oceanic currents).
A taste of what might be coming our way, on a much larger scale:
- First photographs emerge of new Pacific island off Tonga, Telegraph, 11 march 2015
- Arctic satellite image of the week: Russia discovers new Arctic island, Alaska Dispatch News, 17 November 2014
- Dramatic Video Shows Volcano Making New Island Off Japan, National Geographic, 21 November 2013
- World’s newest island from the air: Amazing images of ‘mud pie’ that rose from the sea after huge earthquake in Pakistan, 2 October 2013
- An island is born: Amazing pictures show Red Sea underwater volcanic eruption creating new land, Daily Mail, 29 December 2011
If we deliberately ignore such a scenario, deeming it unpersuasive or yet unproven, we could expose ourselves to avoidable, catastrophic risks.
We should instead task ourselves with implementing the appropriate measures to absorb most of the impact of such a scenario and to adapt to changed conditions (e.g. higher sea levels).
We are repeatedly told that we must become more and more competitive, and therefore more vulnerable, for no man and no community is an island and being socially and economically irresponsible for the sake of profit, attacking and exploiting our neighbours’ weaknesses, is suicidal.
On the contrary, our aim should be to become more resilient, that is to say, more equitable, cooperative, caring, altruistic, responsible, trustworthy, especially amid disruption.
Anti-fragile, more resilient communities give people’s lives a deeper meaning and a sense of purpose, the willingness to see a crisis as a challenge to overcome creatively, innovatively, insightfully, combining different skills and expertises, catalyzing collaboration.
Our goal should be to become resilient, open tribes:
…Resilience is often found in having just the `right’ amounts of these properties – being connected, but not too connected; being diverse, but not too diverse; being able to couple with other systems when it helps, but also being able to decouple from them when it hurts. The picture that emerges is one of strategic looseness, an intentional stance of both fluidity (of strategies, structures, and actions) and fixedness (of values and purpose).
Andrew Zolli, Ann Marie Healy in “Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back”, 2012
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