On a Year Without Summer

This isn’t a story of some sort of calendar glitch or adjustment that caused the world to not have a summer, no. Rather, this is a story of when summer simply didn’t happen, at least not in the usual sense. You see, sometimes, the earth creates circumstances that has such a dramatic effect on the world’s climate that warmer summer weather–weather absolutely necessary to the growing season for both crops and livestock–never comes. The result is fairly obvious. Food shortages, starvation, and even social unrest results.

And the major way the earth creates this type of climate and food crisis is usually a major volcanic eruption. This type of eruption blows ash into the stratosphere. The high speed winds in that level of the atmosphere blows the ash around the world. That causes less sunlight to filter through to the earth, making temperatures lower over the course of several weeks or months. When frosts or snows occur in the summer, crops die. If such events occur over a fairly short time frame, food production can plummet.

Food prices rise. Supply chains are disrupted. Jobs and businesses are lost. Sickness spring up around the world. Wildlife is destroyed, including the pollination of crops being eliminated. And, if the ash is sufficiently heavy, even water sources can be spoiled. In our modern world, even with all our abilities to combat many disaster situations, there would be no ability to deal with such a situation.

Now, you may wonder if and when such events have occurred in our history. They have. More often than we may realize. The most recent of these happened in 1991, when Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted. Weather patterns and agriculture in the United States were affected, but these effects weren’t as drastic as those that struck the northern hemisphere in 1816. That Year without a Summer happened after a series of eruptions occurred in various parts of the globe. Paintings done in the following years after those events show yellowed skies and brilliant sunsets from the ash that lingered in the atmosphere. Similar situations have been recorded in 1883, 1783 (resulting in 25,000 fatalities in Britain alone), 1628, 1601 (known as the coldest summer ever witnessed in the northern hemisphere), 1452, and so on.

And, what’s important to remember is that it will happen again.


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