Mother Nature shows her power


Thinking Out Loud


Just another day in Paradise, right?

Not really, if you’re currently living on the Big Island of Hawai’i. There, you have to keep looking over your shoulder to make sure a lava flow isn’t coming at you.

If you watch any kind of television news (“fake,” or otherwise) you probably know that part of the 50th State is being devastated by the eruption of an often-active volcano — Kilauea — that’s currently blowing its top.

Hot lava, reaching temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees (Fahrenheit), is billowing hundreds of feet into the air, releasing potentially deadly things like sulfur dioxide, just to mention one.

Roads are melting like so many ribbons of licorice candy; vegetation is burning off like so many California trees in the deepest throes of the forest fire season.

For all appearances, we’re witnessing Hell on earth in beautiful Hawai’i.

Now, let’s hop in our time machines and turn the dial back to a few years before 1816. Our destinations mostly center on the South Pacific, near what is now known as “The Ring of Fire.”

As (bad) luck would have it, there had been a nasty succession of violent volcanic eruptions at that time.

Due to a series of these events, and possibly other factors, a delayed reaction became known throughout the world as “The Year Without a Summer — 1816.” And for many folks, it really seemed as if Mother Nature had removed that time of year from the calendar.

Because tons of ash and other volcano-related trash were floating around in the atmosphere, the earth’s atmosphere was not allowing sunlight to filter through to the surface. Things were getting cooler.

Severe climate abnormalities were being noticed in much of the world, primarily above the equator. During some of the years between 1809-1816, temperature drops of one-half to nearly one degree (Fahrenheit) were recorded in many places.

Massive agricultural failures led to terrible food shortages. Even supplies of usable firewood were dwindling in many parts.

On June 6, 1816, The Year Without a Summer curse struck two weeks shy of the beginning of the spring season when snow fell on Albany, New York. Cape May, New Jersey, suffered five consecutive nights of frost.

These unexpected meteorological anomalies caused extreme crop damage.

There may be several factors that helped create the “Year Without a Summer,” in addition to the unexpected eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies a year or two earlier. According to many people, this was the volcano’s largest eruption in more than 1,300 years.

There were at least five other volcanoes that became violently active during a five-year period beginning in 1809. These eruptions sent unknown amounts of ash into the sky, blocking sunlight.

The chronology of those volcanoes leading up to the Tambora explosion looks like this:

•1808/09 mysterious eruption in the southwest Pacific Ocean;

•1812 — La Soufriere on Saint Vincent in the Wayward Islands, the Caribbean;

•1812 — Awu Sangihe Island, Indonesia;

•1813 — Suwamosejima-Ryukyu Islands in Japan;

•1814 — Mayon, the Philipines.


And, as if that weren’t bad enough, astronomers of the day were noticing something they called the “Dalton Minimum.” This meant there was measureable reduced activity on the sun that ran for a period of several years.

As you can now see, a “perfect storm” was brewing in the Northern Hemisphere that eventually led to bad consequences for millions of people. Yes, things were looking bad, but those on earth at the time eventually saw it through to better times.

So, imagine that; there once was a time when the world had to carry on without terribly hot temperatures. After all, it was the time when Mother Nature worked her magic to produce a year without summer.

Hey, wait a minute!

Maybe with a little bit of preparation, scientists could help recreate a similar situation. We could make it so we’re not covered with ash, but we’re still living with cooler temperatures.

Let that roll around in your mind for a few minutes — (“a year without summer” ... “a year without summer” ... “a year without summer.”)

Now that could be a good way to spend tax dollars.