Map of unusual cold temperatures in Europe during the summer of 1816 Credit: Creative Commons, authored by Giorgiogp2

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming

The summer of 1816 was not like any summer people could remember. Snow fell in New England. Gloomy, cold rains fell throughout Europe. It was cold and stormy and dark - not at all like typical summer weather. Consequently, 1816 became known in Europe and North America as "The Year Without a Summer."

Why was the summer of 1816 so different? Why was there so little warmth and sunshine in Europe and North America? The answer could be found on the other side of the planet - at Indonesia’s Mount Tambora.

On April 5, 1815, Mount Tambora, a volcano, started to rumble with activity. Over the following four months the volcano exploded - the largest volcanic explosion in recorded history. Many people close to the volcano lost their lives in the event. Mount Tambora ejected so much ash and aerosols into the atmosphere that the sky darkened and the Sun was blocked from view. The large particles spewed by the volcano fell to the ground nearby, covering towns with enough ash to collapse homes. There are reports that several feet of ash was floating on the ocean surface in the region. Ships had to plow through it to get from place to place.

Fun facts: this was the year Mary Shelley wrote the first science fiction (and admittedly dystopian novel) Frankenstein; poet Lord Byron wrote "Darkness," inspired by all the gloominess. Mary's husband Percy was apparently a poet too. When writers get cooped up by dismal weather, they tend to go stir crazy!

This was and is climate change.

The less-sexy, mouthful term is anthropogenic climate disruption. You can't soundbite it and make it into a riff, either for or against. I guess technically, this was "volcanic climate disruption." Global weirding - then, and now - is probably more apropos:

I prefer the term 'global weirding,' coined by Hunter Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, because the rise in average global temperature is going to lead to all sorts of crazy things — from hotter heat spells and droughts in some places, to colder cold spells and more violent storms, more intense flooding, forest fires and species loss in other places. Source: Wiktionary

One wonders...instead of prose or poetry, what would have been inspired if Twitter had existed?

Muse for post title:

Mount Tambora and the Year Without a Summer, Center for Science Education

Related book:

The Madhouse Effect, by Michael Mann, Climate Scientist and Tom Toles, Pulitzer Prize political cartoonist

#P4TC links:

Terraforming Earth...April 8, 2015

On Stupid...June 2, 2017

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