A Blast Heard Around the World,
Skies of Blood & New York’s Fate
What an Expressionist masterpiece painted by a Norwegian, the world’s loudest recorded explosion, and New York City’s possible doom may have in common? Not much really, but to think about the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano 130 years ago is a good start.
For while Edvard Munch’s The Scream is the most dramatic depiction of the surreal red sulphur-dioxide skies that covered Europe and circled the world for months after the explosions of Aug. 26, 1883, many wonder what if it’d happen again today.
That’s when that scenario of destruction comes to play, in a way that would shame all those nightmarish visions Hollywood has been concocting for years about NYC, with room to add terrifying touches of real life tragedies, such as the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Asia.
Before going any further, a bit of a disclaimer of sorts, for we’re fully aware of the tendency of New Yorkers to think themselves as the center of the world, and imagine that there’s always a conspiracy apace against this fair city. But guess what, sometimes they’re right.
Also, we’re far from giving shelter to tabloid doomsday scenarios, for the sake of advancing our unique and highly personal view that, yes, we’re all going to die, and despite our laborious efforts, constructing a pseudo-safe reality to prepare us for the inevitable won’t help us.
We may also need to add that we do resent the fact that New York is always the stand in, and scapegoat, for evil, when it comes to the undying desire of movie execs to make another buck on our account. Like, just blow up the statue (and the box office proceeds), and we’ll be fine. You know who you are.
With that out of the way, let’s now revisit that terrible day in Java and Sumatra, brewed for months prior, then jump to a decade later, when a gifted artist’s visions exploded out of his head and onto the canvas, and then onward to a possible nitty gritty future.
THE RUDE AWAKENING OF A MONSTER
The explosion heard around the world started with a murmur sometime in May of 1883, from the volcano that had been dormant for two centuries. In three months, it built up into a crescendo of small tremblores, dust spewing, earth rattling, and finally to rocks shot 50 miles high into the stratosphere. Blasts were heard 3,000 miles away.
At its peak, the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano is estimated to have reached the energy of 10,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. It ignited earthquakes and tsunamis that possibly killed 100 thousand people and shrunk the land surrounding the mountain to a fraction.
It covered the sun for several days and affected global climate conditions for years. A two-degree dip in the average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere is thought to have been a direct consequence of the thick cloud of ash, rock and dust that the eruption spewed up to the atmosphere. Even snow has been recorded in some regions during the following summer.
If the explosions were heard so far away from Sumatra, the scarlet sunsets were equally intense all over the world. Fire engines were called in Poughkeepsie, New York, a few weeks after the eruption, by people sure that an inferno was crackling just beyond (more)
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