Thursday, 5 January 2012

Thinking Ahead

With so many looming disasters to chose from in international affairs and finance as well as an increasingly chaotic political situation it is anybody’s guess which might be pick of the day or week.

One choice item is the appointment of a Belgian economist to the European Central Bank to head up its economic policy team. There is a joke about Belgian economists having to work out their theories in several different languages none of which can make sense of the conclusions.

It was the Daily Mail which came up with one story, the content of which was derived largely from the Wikipedia entry, on the Laacher See, a lake in Germany to the west of Koblenz apparently situated in an ancient volcanic crater. It has begun to fizz a bit and volcano experts suggest that as the last blow was 12,900 years ago and it is overdue this could be another worry.

It is potentially a big one. The last time it went up much of Northern Europe was plastered with ash and this coincided with the Younger Dryas, a very cold spell that lasted a long while. They say that whether the two are connected is speculative. Barclays probably are now pricing the risk and trying to hedge on the Asian markets.

Meanwhile Katla Volcano in Iceland, also Wikipedia has slipped out of the news but is still twitchy and the experts are keeping their cards on the table. Quite how big it might be is not known, probably enough to ground a lot of air traffic for up to a month. This would suggest a holiday season might be worth betting on.

One of my family cheerily reminded me of the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge in La Palma in the Canary Islands which has been studied closely. One theory is that if there is a major slip of territory following volcanic activity the ensuing tsunami would wipe out a great deal of the Eastern seaboard of the USA and much of Southern England. The Thames Barrier would not be a lot of help.

Historically, these things can come together. For example Ijen in Indonesia is on the move and can put up a lot stuff in the sky. This one went up in 1817 two years after the Mount Tambora one had radical effects on the world climate and this had followed an 1812 big one in South America. The onset of the Little Ice Age at the beginning of the 14th Century is suggested as the consequence of a series of events of this kind.

One thing that we have been confident about for a while it that we thought we all knew who or what we were, given a few trivial points of detail. But it seems that our past is more mixed that we ever thought:

So whilst in the past we asked where have they all gone, the question now might be how far are they still with us?


  1. The EU will ban volcanic eruptions and we'll all be fine. Just as they have banned any talk of Eurozone meltdown!

  2. I agree with Oldrightie. The Dear Leaders will have a policy to sort it out.