It’s a volcano in Iceland. And, its name is hard… REALLY HARD, to pronounce. There is a phonetic pronunciation going around: AYE-ya-fyah-dla-jpw-kudl. Did it help? Huh? Probably not! Don’t feel bad, though! Icelanders are rolling in their streets laughing over the pronunciations streaming out of American reporters’ mouths. But, if you can’t get to sleep until you know how to pronounce it, click here. It might help. WHEN PIGS FLY!
Anyway, my point in bringing this up has nothing to do with learning how to pronounce that word up above in the title of this piece. I’ve been there and I still can’t pronounce it in any way that does not draw universal eye rolling and a few silent snickers from the locals. Nor is my point to explain the nature of volcanoes. My claim to fame is physics; so, I’ll leave such explanations to the volcanologists.
On the other hand, Mother Nature’s fury is something else, indeed. All physical scientists (people that study the hard sciences… you know, the ones that require calculus) understand that once she gets aggravated, she can be a fourteen-karat… you know what, (a word that rhymes with ITCH). And, there’s not a thing that we humans can do about, not even Rush Limbaugh.
While creating anxiety is not my goal here, keep in mind that as volcanoes go, Eyjafjallajökull is not a biggie. Yes, its ash cloud is big and will probably hang around for a while, but a neighboring volcano, Katla, is much bigger. If we were to make a David and Goliath comparison, Katla would win the part of Goliath.
And, there is definitely a geological history of the two volcanoes erupting together—though, geologically, “together” does not mean at once, just within a proximate frame of reference. And, yes, this Goliath has been, and still is, rumbling. So, the situation could easily become worse and the ash cloud could hang high for months, perhaps even longer.
It’s costing Northern Europe’s airline industry a fortune, too. The estimates range near two-hundred MILLION dollars a day ($200,000,000) just because volcanic ash and jet engines are not friends. The ash causes jet engines to stall… one at a time or all at once. And, if the pilot can’t get them restarted, they plummet towards Mother Earth at very rapid speeds.
I’ve always viewed volcanoes as Mother Nature’s way of dealing with her acid reflux condition. People that suffer from it know the horror of bolting upright as stomach acid burns their throats, leaving them gasping for breath. Humans simply pop a Pepcid AC or something stronger, but Mother Nature likes to share her pain and horror. She’s neither hostile nor benign towards humans, just indifferent. Human loss, financial or otherwise, is irrelevant.
The volcanoes were here FIRST, long before humans. And, they’ll be around long after humans are gone. In fact, a volcano could easily be our race’s ticket to extinction. It would take a BIGGIE to do it, but there is no shortage of those, either.
Let’s see, there is the Yellowstone Caldera in Yellowstone National Park and the Valles Caldera in New Mexico (in the western United States), Lake Taupo in New Zealand, Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia and Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania. If any one of these babies lets out a huge burp, it could well be all over for us. And it won’t be quick and painless, either.
It’ll be like a perpetual nuclear winter with no sunlight and temperatures plummeting, causing massive starvation, dehydration, and diseases that will make AIDS seem like a benignly gentle way to die. And, this isn’t even the worst of it!
The electrical grid will be history; and you know what THAT means: no TV, no Internet, no phones (not even an iphone will work)! For those of us that live in the Pennsylvania/Delaware/Maryland region, it means that Wawa will actually have to close, thus proving that God does NOT exist.
Can it actually happen? Could one of these big belches actually take place? YES! It’s not a question of IF, only WHEN. Will it be tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, next decade, next century, an eon from now? Who knows? Scientists remain cautiously blasé about it.
But just in case you have the wherewithal to build a star ship to get the hell out of here, historical geological evidence shows that Yellowstone Caldera has erupted on schedule about once every 600,000 years. That’s a long time in-between burps. But the bad news is that the last one occurred more than 620,000 years ago. Are we overdue? I’m just asking!
So far, my point has been that Mother Nature can easily annihilate the human species without ANY provocation on our part at all. Imagine what could happen if we actually pissed her off—even innocently.
I’ve purposely NOT brought up the subject of global warming, and for a good reason: the term has been so vilified and politicized that it’s dysfunctional. One local politician here in Delaware has declared, “The science has been decided.” And for him and armies of the clueless, it AIN’T happening.
The problem lies in the misconception. Such people don’t know there is a difference between climate and weather. This is the reason that legitimate scientists talk in terms of climate changes instead of global warming.
Climate is a long-term phenomenon. Climate change is part of nature’s cycles. How do you think the globe has come to look the way it does today. Just go back over geological history and see the way the continents, oceans, and landmasses have changed over the eons. Climate has changed with evolutionary regularity since the Earth first formed.
It occurs over multiple centuries, not decades. Weather, however, is short term and responds via changing weather patterns that depend on the status of the climate. And, weather patterns will differ from place to place. Places that were cold before may become even colder and places that were warm before may become even warmer.
Global warming does not mean that the globe is going to burst into flames or that the United States is destined to become a searing desert. It simply means that different locations will experience differing weather patterns than previous ones, some of which will be extreme beyond description.
For legitimate scientists, Mother Nature causes climate change with all of the associated weather patterns. That we humans have contributed is a matter of scientific logic. Every living species has bequeathed green house gases to the atmosphere.
We humans have gone from horse speed to rocket speed in just the last 200-years. So our contribution has been at least as much as other species’ have been and probably much greater. And, only idiots refuse to believe it.
Yes, we could have prevented some of it and we still have an opportunity to engineer some of the problems out of the equation. But, even so, our efforts are NOT going to stop climate change with its attending weather patterns. So the issue isn’t PREVENTING it; it’s DEALING with it.
We need to stop the incessant and useless political and social hissy fits over this issue. All it’s accomplished so far is to block the scientific/engineering miracles for which we humans have shown enormous capacity, almost as much capacity, in fact, that we’ve shown for abject stupidity, which trumps any threat of our extinction via volcanoes.
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.