The Iceland Volcano
April 17, 2010, 07:13 AM
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The ash-cloud from the volcano in Iceland that is shutting down air-travel in parts of Europe reminds me that Ben Franklin may have been the first to theorize that a 1783 Icelandic eruption caused the cool weather and poor harvest in England that year. (Much like the 1991 Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines made the summer of 1992 in Chicago the coolest I experienced, with a notable dust haze in the sky all year). Franklin was in his late 70s at the time.
As I've mentioned before, Franklin's life story is the most comically upbeat that I am familiar with. He just goes from one triumph to another well into old age. He negotiates the favorable Treaty of Paris settling the Revolutionary War, and then, en passant back to America, discovers the link between volcanoes and climate, maps the Gulf Stream, and invents bifocals.