An academic paper presented at a conference in India this week proposes that rapid fossil fuel extraction could change the planet’s tilt and spin. Don’t know enough about the science, so it might not be credible at all. But I can already see the PR teams lobbying for equal fossil fuel expansion potential everywhere in order to avoid any weight imbalance.

Here’s the summary of the paper from the AGU Chapman Conference on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences[1]in India as quoted by blogger Paul Kedrosky[2]:

“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.”

Endnotes:
  1. AGU Chapman Conference on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences: http://www.agu.org/meetings/chapman/2010/bcall/
  2. as quoted by blogger Paul Kedrosky: http://seekingalpha.com/article/189248-how-oil-puts-the-planet-on-tilt