In 200 years, the world has experienced two sever sustained weather incidents that caused not only revolutions but also climate shock responses from the people experiencing the extreme weather. One revolution occurred following the 1816 Tambora eruption and another revolution as well as extreme sustained weather occurring now. The main difference that we are seeing now comes from the causes of the extreme weather. In 1816, a volcanic eruption caused a smog and weather that persisted for a few years, leading to most memorably, the year without a summer. The weather we are experiencing today comes from human-caused problems. Unfortunately, this extreme weather will likely last longer than the Tambora revolution weather and will not be fixed in an easy way. Even with this notable difference, there are tangible similarities between the two revolutions. We can examine these by looking at the stages of climate shock response, creative sympathy, proto-revolutionary violence and “flight into hell”.
In 1816, there were many forms of creative sympathy in response to the extreme weather that people were experiencing. Some examples of the creative sympathy that occurred after the Tambora eruption include emergency government programs that later morphed into progressive programs, artwork and other technological, artistic and administrative innovation. Some of the most influential creative sympathy examples include the book Frankensteins Monster, the book The Vampire, the path to the birth of modern meteorology and the invention of the bike. This parallels creative sympathy today in similar ways, there are many books and movies made predicting the effects of climate change and showing the people who inhabit the earth what they are doing to destroy it. Many technological advances have been made in response to the extreme weather changes and the much needed change to energy consumption. Some examples of this are solar panels and wind energy. While these examples of creative innovation seem very different from time period to time period, it is important to consider that they do follow the common themes of technology and art.
The proto-revolutionary violence portion of the response can also be seen in both 1816 today but once again, in somewhat different ways and in different magnitudes. In 1816, prices of food were doubling and tripling as the shortages increased and conditions for everyone, particularly peasants, worsened. As the famine intensified, peasants resorted to extremes such as killing young children as opposed to watching them die slowly from starvation and selling themselves and their families into slavery. Many riots also erupted during this time period. We see the proto-revolutionary violence not so much today, but we do see a response. These responses are non-violent, but are somewhat in (1816) riot form, as they are generally groups of protestors stating what they believe and what they want changed.
The last “flight to hell”, unfortunately, can not only be seen in the Tambora revolution, but can also be seen today as we experience it firsthand. In the Tambora revolution, people literally “walked” to hell, as they fled the rural areas where they were living and headed into more populated areas looking for help where they were viewed as parasites, and those who helped them were viewed as something close to the devil. Today, we experience a “flight to hell” as we try to convince people to fix our actions and save the environment but to no avail and watch the world “go to hell” around us.