Environmental activists constantly accuse humanity of destroying the Planet Earth. A case can be made that the reverse is actually true.

Take, for instance, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s finding that there are is a mantle plume underneath Antarctica, which seems to explain much of the melting of the continental ice shelf.

Researchers at NASA have discovered a huge upwelling of hot rock under Marie Byrd Land, which lies between the Ross Ice Shelf and the Ross Sea, is creating vast lakes and rivers under the ice sheet. The presence of a huge mantle plume could explain why the region is so unstable today, and why it collapsed so quickly at the end of the last Ice Age, 11,000 years ago.

Mantle plumes are thought to be part of the plumbing systems that brings hot material up from Earth’s interior. Once it gets through the mantle, it spreads out under the crust, providing magma for volcanic eruptions. The area above a plume is known as a hotspot.

Perhaps the most famous mantle plume is the one over Yellowstone, and there are concerns about the scale of the magma-build-up under North America’s famous caldera. The term “hot spot volcano” refers to the geologic formation over these plumes. Those on Iceland and Hawaii are other famous examples. For instance, the eruption of Iceland’s Laki in 1783 poisoned the island population and the ensuing climate change caused thousands of death in Europe.

It will be interesting to see if further research finds that the Antarctic plume could potentially do more than melt ice.

Researchers are now pondering another category of volcanism: Large Igneous Provinces or “LIPs.” Evidence indicates that LIPs are the cause of mass extinction events.

LIPs are floods of basalt lava on an unimaginable scale: the Siberian Traps LIP, which erupted at the end-Permian extinction, covers an area the size of Europe. It’s estimated that over 3 million cubic kilometers of rock were vomited onto the planet’s surface, The end-Triassic Central Atlantic Magmatic Province, stretching from Canada to Brazil into Europe and West Africa, was just as large. Others are similarly gigantic.

In the words of Bond and Grasby, “Four of the ‘Big Five’ extinctions are associated with LIPs—too many to be mere coincidence —implying that large-scale volcanism is the main driver of mass extinctions.”

Even the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous was simultaneous with the Deccan Traps LIP in India. It’s possible that the combination of the Chicxulub asteroid impact and the Deccan eruptions, rather than just the impact, pushed life over the edge. And recent evidence points to a LIP trigger for the second phase of the end-Ordovician extinction, the one missing from Bond and Grasby’s quote. If confirmed, that would link LIPs to all five of the Big Five extinctions.

Legal Insurrection readers will recall that I did a detailed analysis of the real cause of five mass extinction events, when the press was trying to gin-up hysteria about a human-caused sixth episode. This new analysis alters some conjectures about what happened during previous geological epochs.

And since I am on the subject of volcanism, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ongoing eruption sequence of Mt. Agung in Bali. This volcano is a stratovolcano, which is a kind that emits ash before fully erupting to release pyroclastic flows (e.g., Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Vesuvius).

Massive plumes of dark ash were seen reaching as high as 3km (2 miles) from the summit of the rumbling volcano, which began erupting last week.

Officials raised the alert to the highest level on Monday, fearing an imminent major eruption.

More than 100,000 people have been ordered to evacuate the vicinity.

Volcanic ash can damage aeroplane engines or even cause them to fail, and also clogs fuel and cooling systems. Pilot visibility can also be hampered.

The 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo caused the global temperature to drop temporarily (1991 through 1993) by about 1°F (0.5°C) after nearly 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide went into the stratosphere. That is arguably real climate change that is not man-caused. Additionally, the eruption killed 722 people and displaced 200,000.

I have often accused climate change fanatics of ignoring the sun. It is interesting to see the new data and theories underscoring that planet Earth is also a huge contributor to its own climate and mankind is sometime the collateral damage.