It is primarily in historic fiction that we are familiar with the dark times of European poverty and hunger that were rampant during the late 1700’s. America had fought and won her freedom from the English and had gone about the business of our Manifest Destiny. Modern culture can look back to stories as those outlined in classic tales such as Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities, or Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables to discover what was happening in France during those times. Barring that reference, perhaps you may recall that long ago 9th grade world history and lessons revealing the extravagant lifestyles of the upper class and monarchy of 18th century France. When informed that the peasants were starving because they had no bread it was the young Marie Antoinette who is famously quoted as replying ” Well, let them eat cake.” Now, I don’t know if she really did say that or if it was propaganda to stir up the crowd. Well either way, the crowds were stirred up!
Marie and her family eventually lost their royal heads to the guillotine before the hissing, hostile, hungry masses of French peasants who were angry at anyone whom they perceived to be rich, politically connected to the throne or more privileged than they. Prior to this People’s revolution which lasted from 1789- 1799, the upwardly mobile French merchant/middle class was busy making money. Apparently, the nobility was involved, so intrinsically, with living their lives, managing their lands, fighting their wars and maintaining lavish lifestyles that they didn’t seem to notice or care that there was something ominous brewing. There were undercurrents afoot that would shake the world. These Upper Crusty Europeans had their sights only on how life had always been, deemed themselves entitled and immune from any economic, political or social upheaval and seemed oblivious to the downward spiral that would soon catch them in a whirlwind of hurt. While I am in no way supporting the violent, horrendous and hateful murder that defined this Revolution; I can certainly learn a lot from a study of it. A good, cautionary, take-away from the French Revolution is to never, complacently believe that your situation cannot change and that life will rock along as it always has!
Today, I am endeavoring to avoid the tantalizing rabbit trails which I would love to take and define the startling differences of the evolution and resolution of the American Revolution and that of the French Revolution and the fact that Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood of their Revolution was erected on a fractured foundation of wholesale, chaotic, blood sacrifice. Similar diversions beckon me to outline in detail the socio-economic parallels of revolutionary France to our life and society today. This would, however, turn this from an insightful little post and morph it into a fascinating 6- weeks course! So, back on track! What really caused this shift, this tipping point in Europe of political unrest and social angst back in the late 18th Century that fundamentally changed life as they knew it?
Unbeknownst to them, and far, far away from the cosmopolitan centers of Paris and London, tectonic plates shifted, molton lava began to churn and build beneath the crust. In what began a notable period of seismic unrest in various parts of the world, subterranean pressure of superheated steam and ash began to swell and bulge: seeking release in likely fissures and faults pushing it’s way, inevitably, and often explosively to the surface:
While exploring the upper reaches of the Northern Americas, Captain James Cook on his epic final voyage sailed into the Bering Strait. As the Captain of the HMS Resolution his ships log records the following account of an explosive eruption of Avachinsky volcano which was observed by the Resolution crew. John Ledyard recorded the eruption in the ships journal on June 15, 1779. “On the 15th it continued calm until noon when it clouded up and became very black and dark: the two mountains Peter and Paul (Avachinsky and Koryaksky) were covered with the atmosphere near half way from their summits down, and at two o’clock we had again a small shock of an earthquake, and heard a hollow rumbling noise in the air, and the atmosphere continuing to condense, it became almost as dark as night, and the face of heaven looked very wild”.
Just a few years later, in 1783 a very sizeable volcano erupted in Japan. The eruption of Mt. Asama reportedly killed 1,377 people, caused a memorable tsunami and for a period of weeks injected a sizeable amount of ash into the atmosphere.
That same year in Iceland one of the most deadly Volcanic eruptions in history occurred when the Laki fissure which crossed 130 craters ripped opened with phreatomagmatic explosions. From June 8th of 1783 and for the next 8 months this walla-paloosa of a volcanic fissure sent enormous amounts of ash and toxins into the atmosphere. The toxic gas of fluorine and sulfur- dioxide released at ground level decimated crops and livestock and is estimated to have killed 25% of the Icelandic population. It is the largest lava flow recorded to date. Prevailing winds carried the ash to Europe.
Benjamin Franklin witnessed the Laki eruption in 1784 during one of his diplomatic voyages to France. He hypothesized in his journal that the volcano’s introduction of massive quantities of volcanic particles into the upper atmosphere could cause a reduction in the surface temperatures as the particles would lessen the solar energy penetrating the atmosphere. He was correct.
Greg Neale wrote an article for The Guardian in an April 15,2010 story which reported, that 200 hundred years ago Mt. Laki erupted for 8 months with catastrophic consequences for weather, agriculture and transport across the entire Northern Hemisphere. This volcanic fissure in Southern Iceland erupted from 8 June 1783 through February of 1784 spewing lava and poisonous gases that devastated the islands agriculture and killing much of the livestock. it is estimated that 25% of the Icelanders died during the ensuing famine.
The haze of dust and sulfur particles thrown up by this volcano were carried over much of the Northern Hemisphere. Ships were moored due to the dense “fog” of ash and chemicals. Crops were affected as the fall-out from the continuing eruption coincided with an abnormally hot summer.
A English clergyman, the Reverend Sir John Cullum wrote to the Royal Society that barley crops “became brown and withered…as did the leaves of the oats: the rye had the appearance of being mildewed.”
British naturalist, Gilbert White described the summer of 1784 as “an amazing portentous one- the particular haze or smoky fog that prevailed for many weeks in England and all over Europe- was a most extraordinary appearance unlike anything known within memory of man.” He continued with this description,” The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon and shed a rust-colored ferruginous light on the ground, and floors of rooms: but was particularly lurid and blood-colored at rising and setting. At the same time the heat was so intense that butchers’ meat could hardly be eaten on the day it was killed: and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic-the country people began to look in superstitious awe, at the red looking of the sun.”
The Guardian story stated that Ben Franklin wrote of a “constant fog over all of Europe and a great part of North American.” The disruption to weather patterns meant that the ensuing winter was unusually harsh with constant spring flooding claiming more lives. In America, the Mississippi reportedly froze at New Orleans.
The Laki eruption is now thought to have disrupted the Asian monsoon cycle, prompting famine in Egypt. Environmental historians have also pointed to the disruption caused to the economies of northern Europe, where food poverty was a major factor in the buildup to the French Revolution of 1789.
Volcanologists say the impact of the Laki eruptions had profound consequences. Dr. John Murray said: Volcanic eruptions can have significant effects on weather patterns for from 2-4 years, which in turn have social and economic consequences. We should not discount their possible political impacts.
The Laki Eruption in Iceland was followed in 1786 by a huge eruption not only of Indonesian Mt. Merapi but also the final eruption of California’s Mt. Shasta. This was followed in 1792 by the enormous eruption of Japan’s Unzen where 15,000 people lost their lives. Tons of ash was spewed and a gigantic, devastating tsunami followed.
The Summer that Never Came
In 1816 unprecedented weather took another bizarre turn and resulted in widespread crop failure and famine. Spring arrived but then everything took a turn backward and cold temperature returned. The sky became permanently overcast. The lack of sunlight was so severe that farmers lost crops and food shortages were reported in Ireland, France, England and the United States. Thomas Jefferson who was retired from public office and farming in Monticello sustained crop failures that sent him even further unto debt.
By the end of summer, it was apparent that something very strange had occurred. The Albany Advertiser, a newspaper in New York State, published a story on October 6, 1816 which related the peculiar season:
The weather during the past summer has been generally considered as very uncommon, not only in this country, but, as it would seem from newspaper accounts, in Europe also. Here it has been dry, and cold. We do not recollect the time when the drought has been so extensive, and general, not when there has been so cold a summer. There have been hard frosts in every summer month, a fact that we have never known before. It has also been cold and dry in some parts of Europe, and very wet in other places in that quarter of the world.
It was more than a century later that it was learned that it was the enormous April 1815 eruption of Mt. Tambora in the Indian Ocean had exploded enormous amounts of ash in to the atmosphere, shrouding the globe, blocking the sunlight. Changing the weather.
When the Tambora erupted it was a massive and terrifying event which killed tens of thousands of people. It was not until well into the 20th century that scientists began to link the two events, the eruption of Mount Tambora and the Year Without a Summer.
President Thomas Jefferson kept meticulous weather readings during what he called the Cold Decade of 1810-1820. His Weather Book of data consists mostly of a record of weather observations–temperature, wind direction and conditions during the day, including precipitation–over a period of 14 years, from November 1802 to December 1816. Noteworthy weather events occurring away from where he was also sometimes made it into the journal. In 1816, the “Year Without Summer,” Jefferson records the news of bizarre snowfalls in Canada and Vermont in June, and unseasonable frosts in August.
As we can clearly see from these two well documented events; Even when it is not happening in your neck of the woods one single volcano can create havoc. A period of seismic unrest means earthquakes as well as volcanoes. Just as we saw in the waning days of the 1700’s and the societal upheaval of the French Revolution this volcanic activity can trigger much more than lava and ash problems. Lots of volcanoes erupting over a short period of years, even far away from you, can change things drastically in your own back yard. I have been writing extensively lately about the uptick we are seeing in this sort of seismic activity and the importance of making a plan and being prepared. Combine that fact with other issues such as pervasive west coast drought, H5N1 Bird flu which is decimating flocks and pushing price points, it is easy to see how a degree or two change in our temperatures ,as well as the accompanying ash clouds due to volcanic activity, could adversely affect our food availability and supply rather quickly!
I encourage everyone to make an investment in their future and that of their children and store up freeze dried food, have a good store of protein bars, and vitamin supplements and the like- as I believe that we are entering another such period of worldwide seismic unrest. Please note that in Luke 21:11 Jesus tells the disciples that “Great Earthquakes in different places” in conjunction with a lot of other signs and signals will be the kick off to the End Times and his inevitable return in Power. So, in addition to historical precedents there are Prophetic Biblical warnings. We see a pattern. Based on all this,in my estimation, whether you are a Christian Believer or not, it would be a very good idea to have a goodly stash prepared for the coming tough times.
In very related events and according to Dutchsinse.com this week:
June 7, 2015 going into June 8, 2015:
Asia volcano alert … OVER 85 different blasts from Sakurajima Volcano in less than 1 days time (from 6am to 11pm)
Also, notice the steady steaming off the back side of Sakurajima, which is Mount Ontake caldera (a different volcano in this complex)… Ontake caldera could also erupt in a large blast if things carry on this way.
6/09/2015 — Mount Sinabung erupts — Lake Toba Supervolcano now steaming +emitting foul odors of gas
Western Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung has been placed on high alert for what is being called a “mega-eruption” for several km/miles around the volcano.
Video reports coming out from the region show ash, steam, and eruptive blasts currently occurring.
In addition to the large eruption at Mount Sinabung, we now have other reports that the nearby Toba supervolcano is showing large emissions of steam (from the ground), as well as foul smelling gas.
According to reports from Indonesian press, locals are alarmed by these recent developments.
Toba supervolcano is indeed a “super-volcano” by all measurements. Actually LARGER in eruptive power to the other more well known “Yellowstone” super volcano (located in Wyoming / United States).
Worthy to note, the Toba caldera produced the worlds largest eruption in the past 2 million years, and has not showed eruptive signs in over 75,000 years.
From Oregon state University:
“Toba caldera produced the largest eruption in the last 2 million years. The caldera is 18 x 60 miles (30 by 100 km) and has a total relief of 5,100 feet (1700 m).
The caldera probably formed in stages. Large eruptions occurred 840,000, about 700,000, and 75,000 years ago. The eruption 75,000 years ago produced the Young Toba Tuff. The Young Toba Tuff was erupted from ring fractures that surround most or all of the present-day lake. “