Friday, April 16, 2010

Reflections on an Icelandic volcano

Since I am scheduled to go to Britain at the end of the month, I am watching the Icelandic volcano and the disruption of air travel with more than a little interest.

I have gathered from news reports that this is not a Krakatoa; it's just special geological circumstances and the location of the eruption that endanger extremely busy air routes. Would anyone care if this was happening on South Georgia Island? Besides the 2,000 who live there?

This incident, like the big icestorm that hit Quebec and eastern Ontario about a decade ago, underlines how we (OK, I) expect that complex structures we depend on will just routinely keep working, when there are all sorts of unlikely but perfectly possible catastrophes out there lurking. My favorite one, besides all the climate catastrophes, is a major solar flare that fries every satellite in orbit.

Sweet dreams!


  1. IMHO we all expect the structures to work perfectly all the time. People like me (risk control) work to remind folks that we need to build structures with strength to withstand catastrophes (buildings in Haiti vs. Chile come to mind) and have contingencies in place. Unfortunately us doomsayers get called exactly and often get dismissed (some cases figuratively and some cases literally).
    Solar flares BTW are more likely to take out electrical grids like they did in Quebec in 1989 -

  2. I looked up at a muted TV to see a sky shot of these thick dark brown/grey walls sitting isolated among blue sky and white clouds. Would be incredible to see. Has The Big Picture featured it yet?

    Well...let's see...Krakatoa gave gorgeous sunsets for years and years, gave the locals quite a bit of solar insulation, as the ash fell it gave the ground/plants some incredible nurishment, and as the dust rose to the atmosphere, it contributed to an increase in the earth's climate that also lasted several years.

    Watch and see if Europe goes Al Gore and starts blaming carbon for global warming; starts selling carbon credits, and try to hamper all producers of carbon...of which humanoids are the largest!

    Going to England? Go by water! Be classic!