The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 was the most destructive explosion on earth. Around eleven thousand people were killed directly by the eruption, while thousands of other people were killed by disease and starvation. It was a horrible year for crops, diseases were spreading and there were floods and droughts. Clearly the eruption of Mount Tambora had serious impacts to humans and the environment, however, before Professor Gillen Wood’s talk, I had never really heard about it in much detail and I don’t think many others have either. Professor Wood’s research about the eruption is extremely important because the eruption was definitely revolutionary and is still relevant to our world today.

The 1815 eruption caused 1816 to be the Year Without a Summer. It was the coldest and windiest year resulting in food shortages, flooding and other disasters. Professor Wood talked about the connections between Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein and the 1815 eruption. He said that Frankenstein foreshadowed the victims and their fears. I found this extremely interesting because I don’t really think about connections between literature and the natural world, but there are definitely many connections. This fear that Shelley talked about is related to the topic of psychological phenomenon that Professor Wood discussed. Obviously there were physical and visual damages of the Mount Tambora eruption, but the psychological aspect is maybe not as obvious, but extremely interesting and significant. People were migrating trying to find better homes, more food and escape the spread of diseases. Professor Wood mentioned that violence started to occur due to the famine. Individuals experiencing the famine started to use violence and then state violence occurred to try to repress the masses. Another saddening aspect of the Year Without a Summer that Professor Wood described was how some women killed their babies because they couldn’t bare to see them starve. There were many horrific things that happened all leading back to the 1815 Mount Tambora Eruption that is still a mystery to many people.

Although the eruption happened 200 years ago, it could definitely happen again today. Volcano eruptions cannot be predicted and especially not the severity of the eruption. Professor Wood compared the climate shock experienced then to what we are experiencing today due to the zika virus, floods in Louisiana and forest fires. The eruption of Mount Tambora was a significant event in history and is still relevant to today, so it should be talked about more often.

Professor Wood’s talk showed how by looking at the eruption through different lenses we can see how humans are connected to natural disasters. At the end of his talk he returned back to Mary Shelley and explained how Frankenstein was a literary response to the climate disaster. He explained that we are vulnerable and Shelley’s book let us see into the refugee’s mind. I believe that the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1915 was truly revolutionary. It greatly impacted the world and is still relevant today.