One gets a sense of scale and even insignificance when we watch the latest eruption of a major volcano in Iceland. We argue and moan and groan about the influence of Man on our climate and old Mother Earth with our cars and power plants. But then along comes something like this again to rein in our over- broad view of our power. We didn’t start the eruption and we can’t do a darn thing to turn it off. Well, I guess some at the Sierra Club might argue that the eruption was due to climate change just like they do with hurricanes and other natural events and changes in the geology and climatology of Earth. I doubt any credible geologist worth his salt would maintain that position. That fact is that there are giant and powerful forces at work shaping the earth now and into its future. The Earth is not a completed project yet. Hard to believe but it never will be. Earth will continue to change as long as it exist.
It is often forgotten and rarely noted that a few hundreds of miles below our feet there is nothing but molten iron. It rotates and moves with creates our magnetic poles and thank heaven, literally, for that or else we would die from radiation from our Sun. Sitting on top of that molten iron is the crust of our earth–the ordinary “dirt” and stones we see. All of our power plants and nuclear bombs pale in comparison to the force and energy of the rotating blob of iron. We are the fly on the wall and can be swatted away by Mother Nature on a whim anytime.
Already transportation by air is shut down throughout much of Europe and almost all of Europe will be affected in a few more days if the eruption continues. It is not like a runaway oil well that can be tamed by Man’s ingenuity and technology. That kink in our modern transportation system is not caused by an oil embargo, terrrorits’ attack or financial crisis but by the forces of Nature exercising their muscles. There is not shut-off valve they we can turn. We are at the mercy of Nature. When Krakatoa went up in the 1880’s the entire world cooled off for over a year. That following summer was the one noted as the summer without summer because of the cooler temperatures throughout Europe and the US. All you have to do is look at the clips of the eruption to see the tons and tons of ash and debris being spewed into the atmosphere by that eruption. All the tailpipes in LA for a year wouldn’t equal what it coming out there in an hour.
It has already been reported that the makeup of the ash is more than that in the traditional definition because much of this is sand and grit along with the usual volumes of sulphur that when mixed with water droplets in the atmosphere will form sulphuric acid. Sounds like a real witches brew. It can’t be determined yet if the net effect will be to warm or cool the climate globally. On the one hand the “dust” will reflect radiation from the Sun and therefore cause cooler temps but the gases will also trap some of the inherent heat from the Earth and tend to warm. Bet your money on the cooling effect. Of course nothing dramatic will happen if the eruption dies out in a matter of days. It will be yesterday’s news and the folks in western Europe might have a little more dust to clean up than normal. But if that thing wants to continue it will affect our weather. Also there is the possibility that it could have a really huge explosion that would put even more debris into the atmosphere in short order like Krakatoa which lasted only hours. It also could produce very spectacular sunsets for some time as the setting Sun’s rays reflect off the floating debris in the skies around the world. The trade winds and jet stream will influence where all this will move. The first indications of debris should show up in the US by next week.
So if you are worried about unemployment, the economy, public debt or political direction or parties, then you can add something new to your list. Remember it was massive amounts of debris like this that killed off the dinosaurs and later the large mammals. Those tectonic plates will move and cause eruptions regardless of the Common Market actions or the passage of health care. If you feel a shaking in your house then that is something to worry about or if you have to wear sweaters during the summer you will worry. Use your own thoughts processes to imagine what will happen to agriculture if this thing continues much longer. The impact could be devastating. Buy long on the commodities futures if you think it will continue for long. So sleep well but check the news one more time.
From ancient times to our own Man has always viewed the giant events of Nature as an omen. The earthquakes, great storms, floods, drought and fires were portents of something wicked this way comes. Does this eruption portend anything in your mind? (Ray Bradbury fans will pick up on the above line) http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com