It is often said that the importance of studying and teaching history is so that we do not repeat the same mistakes, but Gillen D’arcy Wood’s research is showing that we are failing. While reading through Tambora, I could not help but consider the relevance and similarity of the effects of Tambora and the Earth’s current climate crisis. Both are experiencing, or have experienced, drastic weather changes that have/had devastating global effects. The difference is one was a natural disaster and the other is on our hands. A haunting question Professor D’arcy Wood posed was whether similar violent events that stemmed from the eruption are destined to happen again in the 21st Century.
Although this was posed as a rhetoric question at the time of the seminar, it is not one that should be forgotten or disregarded. Tambora presents a reality of what could happen if we continue to pollute our atmosphere in the manner we currently are. As tragic as the years following Tambora’s eruption were for people around the world, there is some relief in knowing that there was nothing much that people could have done at the time to change the outcome. On the other hand, we know we are responsible for accelerating the degradation of our home and for what is to come.
A couple of students asked what would happen if an eruption as big as Tambora’s was to occur today given the modern infrastructure and medicine available to some places. While this is a valid question, it is also not as pressing as the question of what will happen if we do nothing to change the ways in which we use modern technologies? Even more alarming, what will happen if a Tambora-sized eruption occurred during the peak of our climate change crisis? Fortunately, we are seeing gradual environmentally friendly improvements being made around the world, which in return can be considered socially friendly, if you will. France for example, recently became the first country to ban the use of plastic tableware, which paves the way for other countries to hopefully follow suit in the near future. We need to take our environment and the evidence of climate change more seriously than we currently are. Last night in the first Presidential debate, this was not observed. Clinton reminded the nation that Trump believed climate change was a hoax created by the Chinese. Trump then went back on his claim saying that it was all simply a joke. In reviews and summaries of the debate, this exchange of joking about climate change or using it as a tool for criticism is the only mention of the issue. Is that all we have to say about the future of our planet?