Monday, April 19, 2010

Volcano only shows how small we really are

The amount of news coverage over the more worldwide newspaper sites I romp through on a daily basis as reached the tipping point and now I have to rant.

All I see are stories of how passengers are stranded, how restrictions are excessive, about what the EU is doing about it, about how it is affecting other nations around the world.

In other words, about how the entirety of Europe has just stopped on account of a volcano. A volcano, folks. That the restrictions have to be eased or lifted or removed, that the world has stopped spinning. Of course the airlines want restrictions removed, all of the money they're losing or not making because of this?

Over the last 10 years or so we have seen a myriad of natural disasters that have nearly shut down entire countries for weeks, if not years. The Tsunami, for example. The Haiti earthquake, more recently and, right now another earthquake in China. Mudslides and rain in Peru, stranding thousands of tourists visiting Incan ruins. Several tsunami warnings sparked after off-coast quakes, triggering the memory of the tsunami from 2004, a day after Christmas. Lest I forget Hurricane Katrina.

And now, a single volcano, has unleashed havoc over half of a continent.

While the news outlets will focus on the economic brick wall that they hit in developed countries, be it airlines in Europe or fears over oil shortages when a hurricane is about to hit, what none of them never ever mention is how clearly it demonstrates that humans are, suprise suprise, not actually in control of the planet. We are but a single species living on this planet and just as vulnerable as the rest.

Whether or not planes can fly through ash or, how much ash they clan fly through, is irrelevant. This could go on for a lot longer than it has. And it has far, far, far worse consequences than some giant corporate airlines losing some of their profit margin flying out of Heathrow.

It has a immediate and direct effect on, gasp, Iceland. Yes it seems during all the hoopla over air travel we forgot about the country this volcano actually exists on. If that isn't enough to demonstrate how selfish and grande the general human race thinks oursleves, I could easily list a dozen more from the last 20 years.

Google is thy friend, right? Well at least to us uneducated, lowly bloggers with no credible journalism skills. Volcanic ash is, or can be, incredibly devastating to the entire globe. This shit can be seen from space. In a giant, huge plume rising miles and miles into the air, blanketing huge regions. Ash it turns out can cause all kinds of weather catastrophes, from Wikipedia, thy second best friend:

"The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora created global climate anomalies that became known as the "Year Without a Summer" because of the effect on North American and European weather.[7] Agricultural crops failed and livestock died in much of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in one of the worst famines of the 19th century."

Compared to that, some ash grounding some planes for awhile doesn't sound so bad. It's events like the one happening now that make us forget the absolute power of the Earth and Mother Nature. Nevermind other things:

"All vegetation on the island was destroyed. Uprooted trees, mixed with pumice ash, washed into the sea and formed rafts of up to 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) across."


If 1815 is too far back for anybody to care, perhaps those with greater institutional memory than myself can remember Mount St Helens, which erupted before I was born, blowing it's cork so to speak and levelling an unbelieveable amount of ground in Washington state and even covering entire cars with ash.

Of course comparisons to those volcanoes to the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland may be extreme, given they aren't the same type of volcano. However this is no suprise event, Eyjafjallajökull started erupting again in December of last year, some five months ago.

When events like these happen I cannot help but sit back in awe at the incredible power of the Earth, and it's ability to completely stop human function for extended periods of time. It only serves me a reminder how humans have lived here for but the blink of an eye, and my own lifespan is less than a fraction of that. The Earth does not need humans to keep spinning, and it will be here long after we consume ourselves out of existance or blow ourselves up with nuclear weapons.

It also makes me glad that I live on the Canadian Prairie, where all I have to contend with are thunderstorms and the occasional tornado.

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