Another instalment in our light-hearted look at the terrible catastrophes that await humanity if we manage to emerge from the coronavirus crisis
On April 5th 1815 Mt Tambora in Indonesia* exploded, killing at least 10 000 people, making another 35000 homeless, and sending 150 cubic kilometres of rocks and ash into the atmosphere.* But the real effects were only felt in the following year. 1816 should have been a good one: the first year of peace and recovery after twenty six years of instability and world war caused by the French Revolution. Instead it was a disaster. There was no summer. Snow fell in July and August. Crops failed around the world, leading to mass hunger. The ash had darkened the sky. And the sulphur dioxide had turned to acid rain, poisoning river, stream and field. One good thing: stuck under leaden skies in a holiday home in Lake Geneva, Mary Shelley was inspired to pen her Dark gothic masterpiece Frankenstein.
There are many, many volcanoes around the world, all of them of various sizes, all of them primed and loaded to “go off” at any time. The sad fact is, our ability to predict these events is very poor. For your perusal, gentle reader, I include one take on the most dangerous ones.*
The one that everyone is worried about is the Yellowstone Caldera, in Yellowstone National Park, USA. (immortalised as “Jellystone” in the old Yogi Bear cartoon series). If this one blows, it could cover the whole of the western United States in layers of ash metres deep. The “ash skies” following could be grim indeed (this one’s much bigger than Tambora; Much, much bigger, to be precise). Although some geologists are relatively sanguine, there are signs of increased seismic activity in the area: you never know, do you? So you can make your own assessment, I post an excellent Daily Mail article* which estimates the chances of a” big one “at only five to ten per cent in this century.
Don’t forget- the last Supervolcano, Mount Toba,* nearly wiped out humanity 75000 years ago. What would one do now to a technological civilisation, armed with nuclear weapons, that is fitfully emerging from a disease pandemic? We leave it to your imagination.
#supervolcano #volcanicwinter #threatstomankind