That Iceland Volcano

There is something about that Iceland volcano.  It has wreaked havoc in the airline industry, with stranded passengers all over the world living in airports and missing important appointments.  Businesses reliant on exporting highly perishable products have suffered massively.  Europe, the continent I am most fascinated with and which I plan to visit before I die, is worst hit, but the effects have rippled throughout the world.

In an interview on BBC, Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson says the consequences of what is happening are unknown:

“What we are witnessing are the forces of nature taking power in to their own hands and we are seeing how fragile human beings, even our knowledge, and scientific expertise is when faced with these enormous forces.”

He caught my attention when he said on TV that even the most advanced technologies of the richest countries are no match for Mother Nature; and that perhaps there is a need for us – for the world – to slow down, and go back to the basics.  He put it so beautifully and simply.  Of course, I can say this because no one from my immediate circle has had to change travel plans due to the volcanic ash cloud.  I would probably focusing more on the practical effects of the aviation crisis if I were more directly affected.

So I have a bit of luxury in seeing the volcano as beautiful.  Look at Eyjafjallajokull as captured by Time.

In 1991, Mt. Pinatubo erupted near my hometown of Olongapo City, ruining many houses including ours, and sending ashfall, lava, and pyroclastic materials to surrounding areas, and burying several towns.  Now, it is a beautiful tourist destination (that I have yet to visit), and the affected provinces have slowly come back to life.

It is very humbling for the most powerful countries to be at the mercy of nature – where their equipments and computers are rendered useless – and they become aware of their limitations.  My heart goes out to the families severely affected by the freeze on air travel.  It must have been a nightmare for those waiting at home, and a harrowing experience for those who were stranded.  As one article in Yahoo puts it:

It was a lesson in mankind’s dependency on air travel, the vulnerability of a vital industry, and the confusion that can ensue when each nation decides for itself how to handle a problem that crosses borders.

We study volcanoes in school, admire their beauty, and talk of their wrath, but there is nothing like a real eruption, complete with fire, smoke, tremor, and lava, to bring us to our knees.  I’m praying for those whose lives have been upended by this crisis.  But I am full of hope that a lot of good will come out of this experience.


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