Sunday, April 18, 2010

Up to my lashes in Ashes

The recent Icelandic volcanic eruption has proven to be a dramatic example that nature is still the boss of this rotating antenna ball called Earth. The eruption has caused the unprecedented disruption of air travel from a good portion of Europe to international destinations requiring Icelandic over-flight. It has yet to be seen how much effect this will have on the world’s climate. However, fine volcanic ash has a tendency to circulate rapidly when it reaches the upper atmosphere and will likely affect global temperature.

The last event that I remember was Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991. The upper level atmospheric ash caused measureable global cooling for a year as roughly 10% less light from the sun could reach the earth’s surface. Ash laden eruptions from Pinatubo lasted for nearly 5 months and stratospheric volcanic dust from the event were traceable for over 3 years.

So while I obviously agree with the current countermeasure of closing International air travel temporarily, what is Europe really going to do if a significant ash plume lasts for 3 to 5 months? Does international commerce simply stop and every major European airline go bankrupt or do flight times and fuel costs increase as air travel tries to resume flying around the ash laden clouds?

The irony of course is that nature in about a week has made a more significant negative impact on the world’s climate than man-made sources have over the past decade. I am not arguing against conservation. In fact, I believe we should all endeavor to use less energy, keep working on lower impact fuel sources, and re-use whatever we can. But in reality, no amount of taxes, legislation, world meetings, or feel-good hand-wringing can change one unshakeable edict. Mother nature still runs with the ‘house odds’ and carries the BIGGEST stick. She can bounce us all to the curb or put us up to our lashes in ashes, anytime she wants.

1 comment:

  1. Listen, smart-aleck -- you're WRONG! Greener politics and handcuffing Capitalism can control EVERYTHING, even a few volcanos, earthquakes and the natural warming and colling trends of Earth. Besides, -- cough! cough!~- pardon me. My eyes are burning and it's starting to SNOW right in the middle of all this Man-caused Global Warming!
    Golly -- I didn't see anything in Al Gore's book
    about THIS!!!