“Human affairs often overshadow the happenings of the earth.” This quote by Gillen Wood really resonated with me because I had never fully understood the impacts of Tambora’s eruption until these lectures. It’s shocking to think that such an impactful event is so underrepresented in environmental education. Earning a 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index scale and still standing as one of the most powerful eruptions to date, this event truly changed the world as we knew it.
The global impacts of Tambora really highlighted to me how localized events can affect the global community. When Tambora erupted on April 10, 1815, a chain of catastrophic climactic events soon followed. The amount of soot, ash, and other pollutants that were deposited into the stratosphere were so dense that it triggered the “Year Without a Summer”. The notion that the localized distribution of pollutants could spread enough to impact the climate of the entire globe is extremely important. In the context of current climate change movements, the example of Tambora should definitely be taken into account. Placing an emphasis on the reality that the actions in specific smaller areas can impact the earth in its entirety is a message that I believe should be made known.
With the added climate changes from Tambora, there were large global demographic shifts. Environmental refugees were forced to move in order to escape temperature shifts and starvation. Overpopulation became another huge issue in areas where conditions were viable. Cities serves as refuges for many of the poor. It is disturbing to see how Wood described the conditions in which the poor were treated. While Tambora occurred at a time when disaster relief was limited and the government was not directly responsible for relief efforts, some of the wealthy did attempt to provide relief to refugees. In current times, disaster relief (while not perfect) has significantly improved. The government can be held accountable to aid and assist disaster victims.
In a time when natural disasters are more frequent and powerful due to manmade climactic changes, it is comforting to see that disaster relief has improved. However, in my opinion I still believe that preventative measures should be taken before the natural disasters occur. As Wood displayed in his lecture and book, we know that climatic changes can occur from pollutants and other environmental shifts. Given that this information is readily available to us, I believe that there should be more of a focus on preventative actions rather than reactive actions. As Wood explained in his lecture, Tambora was not triggered by man-made influences. However, I believe that the event of Tambora can still be used as an example of how to react and respond to global climate change.
Progressive eco-centric thinking will ultimately change the way that our world responds to climate change. We can use Tambora as a reminder that climate change is a global issue and will require worldwide support. We can improve on the disaster relief efforts and hopefully, we will be able to curb climate change entirely and learn to live coexisting with the planet, rather than combating it.