A recent Wall Street Journal article cited the movement of the earth’s magnetic field as a cause for potential alarm ~ but still posed the question, “Should we be alarmed?”
The earth's magnetic field is weakening at an accelerating rate. It is 15% weaker than it was at the time the north magnetic pole was "discovered"—and claimed for King William IV—by a British explorer in 1831. Should we be worried?
What's more, the north magnetic pole, after meandering through Canadian islands for half a millennium, is heading off across the Arctic Ocean toward Russia at the breakneck speed of 37 miles a year. It will pass close to the geographical North Pole in a few years. With the dastardly Russians about to pinch this British heirloom, should we be doubly worried?
While the WSJ admits we don’t know the answer, it contends there is no concrete evidence pointing to reasons for undue concern:
Though odds are strongly against it, it is just possible that this is the beginning of a polar reversal, when the North and South magnetic poles swap places. This used to happen quite often—by which I mean every hundred thousand years or so—but it's now 780,000 years since it last occurred, an unusually long interval.
During such a reversal there is probably a very brief interval (oops, there I go again; by "very brief" I mean a thousand years or so) when the earth has no stable magnetic field. This does not seem to have bothered our ancestors: There is no evidence of biological extinctions peaking during magnetic-pole reversals.
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