by Michael dEstries
Categories: Pop Culture.

Back in April of 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia created the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. The estimated 800 megaton explosion killed at least 71,000 – and possibly hundreds of thousands more (if not millions) due to the chaotic climactic shifts that followed. More than 400 million tons of sulfuric gases were ejected into the atmosphere, leading to the often-cited “Year Without a Summer” in North America and Europe. Crops failed, livestock died, and heavy snows in the U.S. fell well into July. In other words, it was a terrible event – and one that may be poised to happen again.

Authorities yesterday raised the volcano-threat level for Tambora to its second-highest level; causing residents to flee.

“It was like a horror story, growing up,” one villager told the AP. “A dragon sleeping inside the crater, that’s what we thought. If we made him angry — were disrespectful to nature, say — he’d wake up spitting flames, destroying all of mankind.”

Disrespectful to nature? This guy has every reason to be concerned then. Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer, which is the largest cause of deforestation in the country. The burning of trees to make way for plantations is so bad that 60% of Malaysia is currently experiencing moderate air pollution due its neighbor’s destructive practices.

If Tambora judges its eruptions based on an environmental scorecard, don’t make any beach plans for next summer.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • http://www.squidoo.com/volcanoes Greekgeek

    Fun way to hang an environmental tangent off a piece of sensational news, but there’s a problem.

    We undercut sound environmental arguments if we push stories like, “Embrace sustainable forestry, or the volcano gods will eat us!”

    Climate change deniers love straw men; let’s not give them any.

    As I’m sure you know, while humans can screw up the biosphere, we’re not powerful enough to dink with the Earth’s volcanic plumbing.

    Also, as I’m sure you know, volcanoes don’t have two settings, “cataclysm” and “dormant.” That’s why Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 caught so many people by surprise. Both had burped and burbled many times without a major eruption, and both have erupted since their famous eruptions without nearly the same loss of life or extent of damage. (Well, Vesuvius has kept rumbling since Roman times, but not on the same scale.)

    So, when we hear a volcano threat on Tambora, “threat level” could be anything from “earthquakes show some increased activity, and we’re moving people away in case it releases toxic gases in the vicinity” to “Start stocking up on canned goods, wherever in the world you live.”

    In this case, a quick Google search shows it’s the former.

  • Sandra Muoio

    We actually just learned about the volcano on the Canary Islands (El Hierro) and how when it erupts, which will be soon due to seismic waves under the ground and co2 coming out of the crater it will cause a tsunami so large it will manage to wipe out the entire east coast of the United States.England will be gone, northern African will be gone, and surely the islands will be gone. What causes this? The seismic waves are off the charts, thus making more build up in the magma chambers. Since the Canary Islands are small, there is no where for the debris to fall except directly into the ocean, which will undoubtedly cause a tsunami. > My point they compared this to the volcano that caused a year without a summer, because they both would have tremendous global affects.

  • bob

    oooh I guess we better sacrifice some libs to the angry volcano gods then…let’s round them all up and throw them in the crater with a truckload of immodium