Wednesday 9 April 2014

'Largest volcanic eruption in human history changed the 19th century as much as Napoleon'

There's a truly fascinating post by one Gillen D'Arcy Wood over at The Conversationa very interesting blog (or rather set of blogs):
Most have heard of the Battle of Waterloo, but who has heard of the volcano called Tambora? No school textbook I’ve seen mentions that only two months before Napoleon’s final defeat in Belgium on June 18, 1815, the faraway Indonesian island of Sumbawa was the site of the most devastating volcanic eruption on Earth in thousands of years.
Read the whole thing, it's superb.  It's also funny that the title is the way around that it is.  Isn't it remarkable that Napoleon is the thing that the volcano is having to measure up to?!  In the comments the author suggests that the reason why this event is almost unknown while the far less devastating eruption at Krakatoa in 1883 is legendary is that telegraph systems were up and running by that time and thus everyone in the West heard about it almost immediately instead of just experiencing a bunch of strange climatological and atmospheric goings-on indirectly.

Maybe one day volcanoes will set the benchmarks for warmongering statesmen to measure up to.

He also has a book coming out on the subject in the near future (first chapter available here):