Sam Redman's Musings

Random thoughts on a variety of subjects

Out of our control – natural environmental disaster

by Sam Redman

A New York Times headline reads, “Britain Closes Airspace as Volcanic Ash Spreads.” It’s quite a story. It seems that volcanic ash from an Icelandic volcano risks detroying airplane engines. The BBC reports that, “All flights in and out of the UK have been suspended as ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland moves south.” The safety body, Eurocontrol, said up to 4,000 flights across northern Europe would be cancelled. The British air traffic control service announced that no flights would be allowed in or out of UK airspace until further notice amid fears of engine damage.

Cloud of volcanic ash spreads from Iceland across Europe

This natural phenomenon shows the fragility of our global environment. Researchers (you can Google it) have published recent studies which show that “volcanoes played a pivotal role in a deadly ice age that occurred nearly half a billion years ago,” and resulted in mass extinction, because of ash in the atmosphere. Search also for an online photograph of the “layered volcanic ash beds” in the Nashville Dome area in central Tennessee. Those formed around 455 million years ago, evidently (according to many scientists), causing or contributing to the ice age.

Hopefully, the ash flow in Iceland is at its end, but if this continues, or worse, if other similar eruptions occur in other parts of the world, causing an ongoing ash flow, then we will be at the mercy of events totally beyond our control. This phenomenal event (actually halting air traffic in Britain) gives a glimpse of the chances, hopefully slim, but possible, of catastrophic conditions which could literally reverse our technologically dependent existence to stone age conditions.

This news sounds like the beginning of a science fiction disaster film. Hopefully, the ash release is over and no further disruptions occur, but it certainly caused me to consider how little control we would actually have over our environment if there would be any repeat of the volcanic activity of prehistoric times.

Reading this story is reminiscent of my experiences of being nine and reading Superman comics or as I grew older glancing at the headlines describing impending doom in the supermarket tabloids.

But, now seeing such a phenomenon described in the New York Times as actually happening; that’s chilling.

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One comment on “Out of our control – natural environmental disaster

  1. Cheryl Young
    April 23, 2010

    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/04/more_from_eyjafjallajokull.html

    These photos show only a slice of the incredible power this volcano is giving off.
    I can’t help but wonder about the volcanos here in the PacNW…
    especially Mt Theisan where ash was spewed out clear up to Canadian border via Montana. Had this happened in “modern” times, would have stopped the world from spinning! St Helens considered small in comparison.
    Mt Lasson up to Mt Baker will wake up as Juan De Fuca plate dives under our North American plate one of these days. Most people are oblivious to the fact that those living West of Mt Hood are not on this plate until 20 miles east of it.
    I’ve been studying geology many years now and it never ceases to amaze me how insignficant human man is in comparison.
    Egads is this “global warming caused by my driving 2010 Tundra Truck…ha!
    I’m ordering a 2011, has all latest emmision controls. I want to do my part in not adding to this global warming. I agree the north poles/ice caps melting….
    but why isn’t anyone talking about the fact south pole is getting bigger?
    And the recent death of “global warming scientist” tragic freezing to death in the
    ant artica region….wow! Should never go outside without wearing a coat, else you’ll
    catch a deadly cold/virus…..ha ha!
    And magnetic north is about to switch back again.
    Egads…
    Wonder what the antediluvians drove back then?…and million years before them…what are we thinking?!

    Sam….Any thoughts on Clarks new book “Cyber wars”…
    the man went ignored prior to 911.
    Perhaps he really has something needing paid attention to!?!?

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This entry was posted on April 15, 2010 by and tagged , , .