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Imagine Shutting Out the Sun

Summer Without a Summer - Part 1

In 1816, Mount Tambora erupted on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia. It was a massive eruption that launched at least 24 cubic miles of debris into the air. In fact, it was the largest eruption since the year 180 in Hatepe, New Zealand. That volcano blasted 29 cubic miles of debris into the air.

Tambora was not the only big eruption between the years 1809 and 1816. There were a total of 6. These were located in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean, Caribbean, Dutch East Indies, Japan, Philippines, and Tambora. With all of that dust in the air, sunlight could not get through the stratosphere to the Earth. Like a reverse greenhouse effect, temperatures fell worldwide. At the same time, there was “the little ice age,” when the sun cooled down and gave off less heat. This was unrelated to the eruptions.

The year 1815 was so cold that birds froze to death and fell from the sky. One farmer wrote, “This morning was very frosty, and ice covered the water ¼ inch thick,” (Demko, 2014, p. 11-12). The crops froze so there was hardly any oats to feed the horses, and what oats there were the people ate. Since they could not feed their horses, a German inventor, Karl von Drais, was inspired to make a machine that would drive without horses. He made the velocipede, a precursor to the modern day bike.

Just imagine what would happen if the Year Without Summer happened today. Our phone, television, and radio signals could go out. Shipping would become difficult due to frozen waterways. We would burn more fossil fuels to heat our homes and businesses.

Demko, Paul. It’s All True: Deadly Nature: High Noon Books, 2014

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