As ash spreads from the unpronounceable Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, it’s a reminder that we’ve been living in benign times, geologically. The successful spread of the uber primates, Homo sapiens, around the globe has been partly due to luck. For the most part, tsunamis and occasional seismic activity excepted, there haven’t been any catastrophic geological events on a grand scale since we began huddling together in towns, then cities, on our way up to coffee shops.
While I sympathize with travellers caught in the inconvenience of ash, and hope the European economy doesn’t take a big hit, it’s sobering to think that this volcanic eruption was but a little burp in the scale of things.
We’ve had it good for so long, we take the earth for granted. And we hate being inconvenienced. Given the way prejudice works in our species, there are probably some who already blame Icelanders for not managing their geology properly. Soon conspiracy theorists will be planting stories to the effect that this latest burp was the work of Islamic martyrs who cast themselves into the depths to bring ash to the infidels.
It’s worth taking a step back from our busy daily lives to contemplate our fragile place in the scheme of things. We might even think about working out some of our differences so we can share this benign time with each other peacefully and harmoniously. Not likely to happen, but it’s a pretty thought.
So, as we sip our lattes, let us give a little thanks that the earth beneath us isn’t on the move. Not yet.