Apr 18 2010
This week the world is witnessing how trivial humankind is compared to the raw forces of nature, and apparently this lessonÂ will be going on for months to come.
More countries were forced to close their air space yesterday as the ash cloud continued to expand across the continent.
More than 17,000 flights to and from European airspace were cancelled, including all flights from Britain’s major airports.
The Met office reported that volcanic ash had begun to fall across Britain, coating surfaces with a fine layer of dust and raising fears for people with breathing difficulties.
Meanwhile experts warned of shortages of some foods with produce destined for British shops rotting in airport warehouses in other parts of the world.
But scientists fear there could be more eruptions from the 5,466-foot volcano, Mount EyjafjallajÃ¶kull.
Sigrun Hreinsdottir, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, said: “From what we’ve seen, it could erupt, pause for a few weeks, and then possibly erupt again. It could go on for months.”
What will be happening next is bigger than air travel being cut off. We will see another round of cooling, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, as clouds thicken and less sunlight is able to get through and warm the planet. The fact one volcano can cause so much havoc for humankind’s fragile modern society is a reminder of how insignificant we truly are.
This has happened many times in Earth’s past to varying degrees. This WUWT article notes how massive eruptions in the Indonesia region probably brought about the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age. I recently watched a show on the Permian-Triassic extinction event which wiped out nearly all life on earth. The theory Â proposed was that this extinction was a cascade of events which began with the massive volcanic eruptions that formed the Siberian Traps. This began a process that went on for tens of millions of years and killed off nearly all life on our planet (don’t worry, this one volcano is nowhere near the same scale of the rift that opened in the Earth’s crust in Siberia).
The Â Earth is dynamic on a humbling scale. For all we know our solar system has transitioned into a region of higher gravitation forces as we rotate around the center of our galaxy. These additional gravitational tidal forces could be pushing and pulling at our planet, increasing its core heat and turbulence. This in turn results in volcanic activity and earth quakes. Gravity is the force that drives Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, so this mechanism is well known.
We have globally witnessed a lot of volcanic activity this year, from Russia to Iceland. And in recent years we have experienced a lot of earth quakes, the most famous of which killedÂ 230,000 people in Indonesia from a tsunami.
I have no clue if the number and force of these events have increased measurably over the last 10 or 100 years, but we do seem to be witnessing to a lot of history making natural disasters.
The point is our current warming could simply have been the return to ‘normal’ temperatures from the Little Ice Age and the last big volcanic event(s). And the future cooling we will be experiencing could just be another round in the ancient ebb and flow of earth’s natural pulses. And it is a given that no amount of measuring carbon foot prints will change a damn thing one way or another.