Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, tropical storms, glacial melting, record temperatures, floods, epic snowfalls, are all words we hear quite often lately. All of these natural disasters, storms and phenomena are abnormal compared to our recorded history of weather. After the Indian Ocean tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in 2004, the devastation of these events became much more real to the world. The recent storm that hit the east coast is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar catastrophe. Then there is Japan, Chile and Haiti, the list goes on.
For some, the belief is that climate change does not exist, for others they just don’t want to believe that the cause is human pollution. Others believe that the end of the world is coming in 2012, and still others believe that the rapture is coming. Al Gore believes differently and has a new campaign to try to convince more people that Climate Change is the cause and that the change is because of human factors. Whatever you believe, on September 14th and 15th, The Climate Change Reality project has organized individuals in each time zone around the globe to speak about the reality and why climate change denial has to come to an end. The speakers are businessmen, scientists, and many others impacted by climate change around the world sharing their stories about why the issue is real to them.
Whether or not you choose to believe Al Gore’s message, there are many other scientists that believe climate change can effect more than just weather patterns and temperature. Bill McGuire of the University College London’s Hazard Research Center recently had an interview with Live Science discussing the possibility that melting of the ice sheets could trigger volcanoes and earthquakes by changing the pressure on the earth’s crust. “In places like Iceland, for example, where you have the Eyjafjallajökull ice sheet, which wouldn’t survive [global warming], and you’ve got lots of volcanoes under that, the unloading effect can trigger eruptions,” McGuire said.
In 2008, the Chaitén volcanic caldera exploded and the effects devastated the small town of Chaitén below. Because of the violent force of a volcanic eruption such as this triggers landslides, floods, earthquakes, and more, in a way it is like combining many of these disasters all into one. A few months after the eruption, I visited the town, talked to the locals and captured the devastation on film (the photos below) and video. Until you have seen something like this up close an personal, it is hard to really feel the impact. Regardless of your view on the climate change controversy, there is no doubt that Mother Nature is not a force that you want to get on the wrong side of and the citizens of Chaitén are living proof that these natural phenomena may deserve more of our attention soon. Even months after the eruption, the volcano eerily billowed smoke above us as a reminder of the power and possibility of another eruption.
You can read more about my experience there and see more of my photos at The World by Road.