TWO HUNDRED years since a huge volcanic eruption turned Europe’s summer into winter – forcing people to eat cats and dogs in the street to stay alive – experts have warned mankind is NOT prepared for a similar event THIS century.
However, academics have warned that the chances of a similar disaster happening in the next 85 years, which could see the Earth flung back into a “pre-civilisation state”, was estimated to be as high as one in 10.
Due to dense population, an eruption which killed tens of thousands only two centuries ago would now be “cataclysmic” for today’s population, the authors warned.
“Large volcanic eruptions have the potential to impact climate, anthropogenic infrastructure and resource supplies on a global scale,” the panel of geologists, economists and climate scientists from the European Science Foundation have written in a new paper.
“Under the present conditions of a global civilisation facing food, water and energy scarcity, the largest eruptions during the Holocene [the most recent geological epoch, which began about 12,000 years ago] would have had major global consequences.”
Throughout time, volcanic eruptions have killed hundreds of thousands
While an eruption measure eight on the VEI, such as the Toba volcano blast – also in Indoneisa – thought to have halved the world’s population 74,000 years ago, has a much smaller chance of occurring.
Large volcanic eruptions have the potential to impact climate, anthropogenic infrastructure and resource supplies on a global scale
However, an event similar to the Laki eruption in Iceland that wiped out 23,000 people in 1783 is thought to be more likely to occur.
“Events on the scale of the Toba eruption 74,000 years ago could return humanity to a pre-civilisation state,” the academics wrote in the “X-events” report, which was presented at the European Geosciences Union general assembly in Vienna, Austria, yesterday.
“Volcanic eruptions can have more severe impacts through atmospheric and climate effects, and can lead to drastic problems in food and water security, as emphasised by the widespread famine and diseases that were rampant after the Laki 1793 and Tambora 1815 eruptions.
“Hence extreme volcanic eruptions pose a higher associated risk than all other natural hazards with similar recurrence periods, including asteroid impacts.”
An artist impression of the eruption of Vesuvius in 1822
The authors of the report added: “An obvious question arises: if a VE1 3-4 eruption in northern Europe blocked air traffic for one week… what would be the consequences of a larger eruption of say, VEI 7?”
“What consequences would result from a Plinian eruption of Vesuvius similar to the one that occurred in AD79, or an eruption of the Plegraean Fields, an area with the potential [for] generating VEI 7 eruptions located in the heart of the Mediterranean area?”
The scientists have now called on world leaders to spend £2 billion a year on a global network to monitor volcanic activity.
They wrote: “Threats from low-frequency, high-impact events are grossly under-estimated in DRR [disaster risk reduction].
“This is particularly true for volcanic eruptions. So far, modern civilisation has not been exposed to an eruption comparable to the most extreme events that occurred during the Holocene.
“Under today’s circumstances, these events are associated with extreme disaster risks, comparable to other possible mega-disasters from extreme droughts, floods, pandemics and asteroid impacts.”
Original Article: http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/570616/Volcanic-eruption-disaster-warning-this-century?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+daily-express-news-showbiz+%28Daily+Express+%3A%3A+News+%2F+Showbiz+Feed%29