Volcanoes and green living

Nature continuously taps us on the shoulder about how our disconnection from the environment and our food sources may bite us on the butt big time one day. But what on earth do volcanic eruptions half a world away have to do with green living?

As our food and other items increasingly originate from further away and we become more reliant on “just in time” methods of business; planetary burps and hiccups can take all our technology and turn it on its head.

A currently occurring example is the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland (no, I can’t pronounce it either), which began erupting after almost 200 years of relative quiet. The widespread ash has caused restriction on flights in nearly two dozen European countries. At the time of writing, the cloud has paralyzed 313 airports over the past few days, 65,000 flights have been cancelled and 7 million passengers delayed.

The suspension of flights isn’t only stopping people getting from place to place, but also pharmaceuticals and food. There’s certainly no major famine looming as only a small percentage of food is air-freighted; but some fresh produce is starting to spoil at the point of origin.

Who could have believed one volcano so far away could create so much havoc? It’s not the first time, nor the most severe. The 1815 eruption of the Tambora Volcano in Indonesia generated a volcanic cloud so intense, it lowered global temperatures by as much as 3 degrees Celsius and severe frosts were experienced in the United States and Canada during summer.

Back to the present – so some rich folks can’t get their out of season strawberries or oysters from overseas for a few weeks; does it really matter?

While activity at Eyjafjallajokull appears to subsiding (but no guarantees there), the much bigger Katla volcano nearby is known to erupt within days or months of Eyjafjallajokull – so this could go on for a while yet.

This situation also gives us some “food for thought”. There are around 1500 active volcanoes around the world. If ten such occurrences happened simultaneously in conjunction with other major natural or otherwise caused disasters; what would be the outcome? Even in a more local event, how would your family fare if essential services were cut for extended periods for whatever reason?

In a nutshell, it’s yet another good reason to start thinking about some degree of self-sufficiency.

Self-sufficiency has a lot in common with going green. For example, you can start up your own organic vegetable garden with heirloom and heritage seeds, participate or start up a community food garden, hook up solar power, install a rain barrel or just learn about generally making do with less. It can be making more from what we have such as using common household products for a myriad of uses or repurposing items we have to perform another function.

At the business end of things, it can be about online conferencing instead of flying to see a client or business partner.

I’m certainly not saying that the four horseman of the Apocalypse are about to ride down our streets, but a greener life is not only more earth-friendly, but also one that can be more resilient when and if disaster strikes.

By the way, check out these amazing pictures of lightning being generated at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano (use the full screen mode).