After a major 7.8 earthquake struck Costa Rica on Saturday, it is a reminder that as the impact of climate change intensifies so too does the frequency of storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes. While life is back to normal with people surfing and the beaches full, it is a reminder of this region’s incredible veracity. They have experienced aftershocks as strong as 5.6 with a total of 1650 aftershocks. After last weeks quakes, volcanoes are being closely monitored. Evidence from other countries around the Pacific Rim shows that movements of 7 or higher causes a change in volcanic activity. On Saturday neighboring Nicaragua’s largest volcano erupted three times prompting the evacuation thousands. In Costa Rica, Arenal suffered moderate rock avalanches.
Located on the ring of fire, Costa Rica is prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods. Yet, it is its proximity to these plates and being between South and North America that makes this country one of the most biologically intense places in the world. The Ring of Fire is a direct result of plate tectonics and the movement and collisions of the lithospheric plates. Costa Rica is located where three plates converge, the Nazeca Plate, Cocos Plate and Caribbean Plate. If any of these three plates shift, Costa Rica feels movement. Earthquakes are generally felt in two ways either a bouncing motion or a floating sideways shaking motion. The earthquake last week was a floater.
The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes and is home to 75% of the world’s most active and dormant volcanoes. Costa Rica has 14 volcanoes with 4 of them active in the past two years. The Arenal Volcano is the most active. Floods remain the main source of natural hazards in Costa Rica. Torrential rains from tropical storms have increased over the past several years and these changes in weather patterns are due to climate change.
According to British geologist, Bill McGuire climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of earthquakes, volcanoes and floods. Most of us think about the planet in a very simple way, but the earth’s ecosystem is incredibly complex and sensitive. It is extremely sensitive to change. According to McGuire, “Volcanoes can be incredibly sensitive to their external environment.” In other words, as the earth’s surface continues to warm and the arctic melts, the intensity of natural disasters will only increase. This is why our carbon footprint is so important in estimating the happiness index. Without a stable climate, it will be very difficult for humans to experience the joys of living on planet earth. In other words, as climate change escalates, weather patterns become more severe and disruptive threatening human’s ability to survive on the planet. Perhaps, there is some sanity in understanding that the happiest country in the world also has one of the smallest carbon footprints. If only the rest of the planet would follow this tiny country’s example, and the guidelines of the happiness index sooner rather than later.