I got interested last month by the supermoon on the 14th of November, when the Moon came nearer to the Earth than it had for nearly 70 years, and a large earthquake in New Zealand coincided with it. Did the close approach of the Moon cause the earthquake? Were the increased tidal forces at the surface of the Earth enough to make something break inside it, and trigger the earthquake?
So for the last 3 weeks I’ve been slowly constructing a tidal simulation model on the surface of the Earth in my orbital simulation model, finding the gravitational force of the Sun and the Earth (and all the planets) at any point on its surface, as well as the rotational velocity of the Earth around its axis, and the rotational velocity of the Earth-Moon system, and adding them all up. It’s new territory for me. I don’t know anything about tides or earthquakes. But I’m always willing to try to find out for myself, rather than wait for someone else to tell me.
And over the last few days, after ironing out teething troubles in the new model, I’ve started to see tidal movements on the surface of my model of the Earth. And I was delighted to find that on the equator near Singapore I was seeing two tides a day – because that’s what actually happens (as shown at right in the Singapore tides for the week after 8 Dec 2016 provided by the UK Hydrographic Office). So it looks like I’m maybe doing something right.
These tidal forces are so small that I don’t actually notice them myself. But they nevertheless act to raise and lower huge masses of water in the oceans, and huge masses of rock in the continents as well, as if the whole Earth was breathing twice a day.
But there are other larger forces that have much greater effects on people. I was arguing a couple of months back that the physical character of Wales – hill country – shaped and defined the Welsh people separately from the English in the gently rolling lowlands to the east of Wales (in fact, it has just occurred to me that “Wales” may simply be a variant pronunciation of “hills”). It’s much harder to move around in Wales than in England. Wherever you want to go, you almost certainly have to climb over or walk around a high hill. And that must inhibit the Welsh from moving around very much, and tend to keep them in tight, self-sufficient communities. The same would apply in the Scottish highlands. It may be that the land itself shapes the peoples who inhabit it.
For example France is set in a basin bounded on one side by the Alps and the Rhine, and on another side by the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, and on a third side by the Atlantic ocean. Is it very surprising that the people in this basin have the same language and culture? The same applies to Spain, bounded on almost every side by sea, and with a mountain range blocking the remainder. These seas and rivers and mountains provide obstacles to motion. These obstacles may be for the most part as unnoticeable as tides, but they’re still there all the same, exerting the same slight physical influence.
And may not things like smoking bans be seen as tidal forces acting on large masses of people? Isn’t being “exiled to the outdoors” rather like being borne away from a port on an ebbing tide? Is the force of law really very much different from the force of gravity? It is, after all, backed up by the threat of physical force. Aren’t all the numerous restrictions on smokers akin to physical forces that push them this way and that? And isn’t my resistance to them any different from that of a stone to the water in a flowing stream? Smokers are being pushed around just like stones in a stream.
I’ve been re-reading The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark. It’s about how Europe went to war in 1914. One chapter opens with the words:
Two military disasters defined the trajectory of the Habsburg Empire in that last half-century of its existence. At Solferino in 1859, French and Piedmontese forces prevailed over an army of 100,000 Austrain troops, opening the way for the creation of a new Italian nation state. At Königgrätz in 1866, the Prussians destroyed an army of 240,000, ejecting the empire from the emergent German nation state. The cumulative impact of these shocks transformed the inner life of the Austrian lands.
What’s striking about this passage is the use firstly of “trajectory” and then “impact” and “shock”. For this author, Austria was itself a sort of stone, being pushed one way and then another, and also eroded, by armies which might be seen as tidal movements of masses of men. Was he mistaken about this? Isn’t Austria a mere abstraction, a word written on a map, not a physical object?
My new global tidal model predicts the tidal forces at any place on the surface of a uniform Earth covered by a single Ocean. It ignores the continents and the coastlines around them. Yet these coastlines have considerable effects on local tides. In the bay of St Malo in France, they can generate a tidal range of 12 metres between low and high tides, whereas in the open ocean the tidal range is less than 1 metre.
Political globalists, who think globally in terms of the “free movement of peoples” across borders, have a global political model a bit like my global tidal model. Their broad, sweeping view ignores petty local differences, like coastlines. It dismisses the objections of “nativists” and “bitter clingers“. We’re all supposed to be citizens of the world now, rather than citizens of England, Scotland, Wales, France or Spain. And we can all flow everywhere over the surface of the Earth, unimpeded by any obstruction, like tourists or (same thing) world leaders jetting over oceans and rivers and mountain ranges.
But I think that this globalist point of view is deeply mistaken. It’s a view of the world from 10 km above its surface, in which the mountains and hills and rivers and oceans have all been reduced to insignificance, when in fact for the 99.999% of people bitterly clinging to the surface of the Earth, these local obstructions almost entirely shape their lives.