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3,477,403 Underwater Volcanoes EXACTLY?

9 Apr 10 - Reader calls me on my numbers
 

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Hello Robert,

I can understand the 'Watermelons' publishing glaringly stupid data, but please don't fall prey to the same temptation yourself.

The article that precipitated this note appeared on your site on 31 March and included this helpful bit of information:  "3,477,403 Underwater Volcanoes".  Not 3,477,402 or 3, 477, 404, but 3,477,403.  Exactly.  No more or no less.  Extrapolated from a survey of exactly 201,055 undersea volcanos.  +/- 0. (See Acid Oceans Due to Underwater Volcanoes?)

This reminds me of the the following gem:  ".......a January 12, 1999 Associated Press article by Randolph E. Schmid, titled "Researchers:  1998 was the hottest year on record.":  "The NASA findings indicate a mean worldwide temperature of about 58.496 degrees F., topping the previous record, set in 1995 of 58.154."  

I particularly like the touch of using 'about', followed by a world temperature quoted to 1/1000 degree F.  One wonders how they would have done if they had gone for precision.  I also find it amusing that NASA was cited as the source of the temperature figures.  I wonder if they weigh the shuttle to +/- one grain when doing their launch calculations?

Now I don't doubt for a minute that undersea volcanos are contributing a huge amount of heat and acidification to the ocean, that the location and amount of heat contributed varies randomly with the whims of the volcanos, that the random injection of heat pulses causes equally random 'nudges' to ocean current flows, with all that that implies, and that the heat and CO2/SO2 injections swamp ANY contributions by human civilization. But publishing the number of undersea volcanos with a precision of +/- 3 parts in 10^7?  

Please remember that paper and computer files are defenseless; they will let you write anything on/in them that you want, no matter how patently senseless.  Don't embarrass them needlessly.

Bob Ludwick

                                                               * * *

     Hi Bob,

     You are correct, of course. The thought that anyone knows exactly how many
     volcanoes lurk beneath the seas is ludicrous. We know more about the moon
     than we know about underwater volcanoes.

     But that number does help bring attention to my point, namely, that
     underwater volcanoes are heating the seas.

     I've been saying "more than three million underwater volcanoes" for several
     years, so it's nice to see a scientific study that helps confirm my statements
     even if the numbers are absurdly precise.

     In 1991 when I began my research for "Not by Fire but by Ice," scientists
     thought there might be 10,000 underwater volcanoes in the entire world. Even
     with that small number, they believed that 80 percent of all volcanic activity
     occurred underwater.

     Then, in 1993, marine geophysicists aboard the research vessel Melville
     discovered 1,133 previously unmapped underwater volcanoes off the coast of
     Easter Island. (I know, I know, there's one of those exact numbers again. But
     that's what they said.) Some of the newly discovered submarine volcanoes rose
     as much as a mile and a half above the seafloor.

     All this in a comparatively small area of only 55,000 square miles, about the
     size of New York state.

     To go from 10,000 underwater volcanoes to more than three million in less
     than 20 years shows how little we knew - or know - about nature. I shudder
     to think of how much we must still have to learn.

     To try to control so-called global warming, to think that we can control
     something that we don't begin to understand, is foolhardy beyond belief.

     Thank you for your interest.

     Sincerely,
     Robert

 

 



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