Of course we have climate change. The climate has been changing constantly since the beginning of the earth and will continue to change forever regardless of anything that humans do. Sometimes the change is slow and moderate but other times it is sudden and violent. We humans tend to think that the way things are today is normal and that it will always be this way. There are some who think that any changes are unnatural and must be caused by humans. This idea reminds me of the story about the elephant and a mouse crossing a bridge at the same time and the mouse saying, “We sure made that bridge shake, didn’t we?” Similarly, the earth’s climate is influenced by forces far bigger and stronger than anything mere humans are capable of. As recently as 1883 a volcano named Krakatoa erupted in the East Indies, and the cloud of ash caused a year without a summer over much of the earth. If three or four of this type of volcano were to erupt in overlapping time periods the result would a catastrophic change of climate that humankind would be powerless to do anything about.
Krakatoa seemed like a drastic change of climate but it was very minor and brief compared to some events in the more distant past. Scientist have been busy for years probing into the earth, the ocean floor and the ice caps and they have accumulated a wealth of knowledge about the history of the earth going back millions of years. They have found that hits and near misses by asteroids have caused astronomical and violent changes in the climate. Some of those changes were so sudden and so extreme that most of the living things on the earth were wiped out and recovery took thousands of years.
Krakatoa in 1883
In 1783 The volcano Laki in Iceland begins an 8-month eruption starting the chain of natural disasters known as the Móðuharðindin, killing tens of thousands throughout Europe, including up to 33% of Iceland’s population, and causing widespread famine. It has been described as one of “the greatest environmental catastrophes in European history. In the eastern United States the winter temperature fell 4.8c degrees below the 225 year average and took nearly seven years to return to normal.
History indicates a natural tendency for the climate of the earth to be warm but a series of violent events have plunged it into deep frigid eras that lasted for very long periods of time. But still, other events scorched most of the earth, leaving a layer of black residue. Some of these events will be covered in future posts.