The End of the World has Been Postponed
A follow up post to my Eyjafjallajokull post, since it got so many thoughtful comments. To begin, now we know how it’s pronounced: Ei-ya fyat-la yo-kutl. Still doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but fortunately the eruption seems to be waning, so we probably won’t need to remember the name of an obscure volcano in a country most Americans couldn’t find on a map. Which if one read the comments on the previous post, segues into why I write these posts. I write them to provoke thought and discussion, maybe even to make people rethink their opinions. To try and impart a clear view and reasonably objective take of some event, historical or current. To tell a story, to amuse and entertain people. And mostly because it gives me pleasure. Often all at once, plus other things thrown in. So I would caution against an overly literal interpretation of any of my blog posts. I do however strive for factual accuracy, I can handle it if people dispute my arguments, but I hate it when someone points out some obvious factual error.
Another issue that came up is if a volcanic eruption does cool the globe, will it counteract global warming? Conditionally, yes. In 1993 the eruption of Mount Pinotubo in the Philippines cooled the Earth significantly, some .4 degrees (.7 Fahrenheit.) So while this would temporarily counteract at least some of the effects of global warming, it’s only temporary. And if we continued to pump CO2 into the atmosphere like nobody’s business, the problem will be even worser after the volcano’s dust dissipates and settles to Earth. However, I said conditionally. The Earth’s climatic regime is a very complex system, so the thing to keep in mind here is that big planet changing events, natural or artificial, can have wide ranging and unpredictable effects. They are something to avoid if possible, or at least watch carefully if they can’t be avoided. So thinking that a big volcanic eruption is “good” because it counteracts global warming … is a simplistic analysis.
I’m kinda glad this eruption doesn’t seem to be getting worse, we all have enough problems. Sooner or later though we as a race are going to have to deal with something like a terrible volcano, comet/asteroid impact, or something similar. And while I concur with a commenter who said the human race would survive almost anything, civilization as a whole is a different matter. There have been thousands of civilizations in history, the current globe spanning colonial civilization is just one of many. Unique in many ways, but every civilization has been unique it its own ways. They’ve also shared their similarities too, that’s why there is such a thing as the category of “civilization.”
For one thing, the citizens of said civilizations for the most part probably never seriously thought that their civilization would one day collapse. On the plus side, when civilizations collapse, many or most of the people in them survive. When a civilization collapses, what it usually meanst is that they abandon their cities. Sometimes to return to living in villages, sometimes to flee to distant lands. Of course with our current civilization that’s not going to be easy, Greenland and Antarctica aren’t terribly situated to host a new civilization. And we’re a long ways from being able to flee Earth itself. And of course some civilizations have been destroyed by war and disease. In this sort of case, a lot of the denizens of said civilizations perish.
Another point I was touching on was the idea that one never knows when the end is going to start. Some civilizations have had warnings, sometimes no warning at all. The global calamity of 535 AD that collapsed civilizations around the world struck with no warning. It’s still not clear what caused this, though it is agreed that it was either a massive volcanic explosion, probably in Indonesia, or possibly a comet/asteroid impact. The scientific debate continues to this day. Personally, I think everyone should take rudimentary preparations should the world begin to crumble, but I digress.
Since Armageddon has been postponed to 2012 again, I think my next post will be about the possibility of aliens invading Earth. Judging from cultural references, this is a topic that is extremely interesting to humans. I mean that alone is fascinating, how is it that we are so fascinated with the possibility of hostile aliens … considering that there is zero evidence that aliens exist, hostile or no?
Have a great week everyone.
(The above photograph is reproduced with the permission of the photographer. This photograph may not be reproduced without permission of the author. Photo title: Trinity. Credit and copyright: Mary Molnar, all rights reserved. Why did I use it to illustrate this post? Not really sure, it just seemed to fit. Maybe someone can tell me.)