The Tambora eruption was one of the most devastating natural disasters we have ever seen, and yet for its size and for the number of potential fatalities caused by the eruption, it is rarely brought up or mentioned. This was for me the most surprising part of Gillen Wood’s lecture was him pointing out that much smaller events that have happened more recently are remembered much more easily by people than the Tambora eruption. This is an interesting thing to examine because this eruption caused a death toll of near a million world wide when all things are taken in to account including famine, and yet for some reason, despite the massive amount of fatalities, it is something many people don’t even really know about. I personally had never even heard of this eruption before this lecture by Gillen Wood, and that blows my mind that only 200 years ago this huge natural disaster occurred and it is almost completely forgotten about nowadays.
Another part of the lecture I found very interesting was the focus on infanticide. I always sort of thought of infanticide as something that very rarely occurred and only really happened when a mother was struggling with some sort of mental disorder. Yet during this lecture we learned that infanticide was actually very common during this time because the poor just simply couldn’t afford to take care of their babies or provide for them and they therefor did not want to watch their children suffer. We also learned of another major issue actually being the abolishment of slavery on the island because this caused many to die of starvation as well because of losing wages and jobs right as he prices go way up and as food supplies are ruined by the eruption. Obviously both of these issues tie directly back into the effect of the eruption on the climate of countries around the entire world, however, it is very interesting to consider how this eruption must have truly been ground shaking for the whole world at the time. To not only cause entire countries to struggle with famine around the globe, but to also cause people to forget their humanity and morals to the point of actually taking their own children’s lives is truly a depressing and terrifying concept.
This of course was the main theme of Wood’s lecture, that being the massive impact this eruption had on various climates throughout the entire world. This interestingly went hand in hand with the discussion of how these various climates were documented around the world and what people at the time really thought was going on to cause so much famine. Obviously communication wasn’t even close to what it is nowadays, and therefor the disaster response was very weak and unhelpful at the time, but this leads into the question of what would something like this do to our modern day world? It also makes you wonder about our current global clime change crisis, and whether or not we will truly begin to act on it and help save our planet from that before it’s too late. If history repeats itself then we are bound to have another natural disaster similar to Tambora in the future, but what if the real major issue of our time is already facing us, and we merely just aren’t taking it seriously enough yet.