The effects of a massive volcanic eruption in Peru more than 400 years ago might have significantly impacted societies and agriculture world-wide, according to a new study of historic records.
Huaynaputina erupted in southern Peru on Feb. 19, 1600, driving volcanic mudflows that destroyed villages for many miles around and spewing a huge column of smoke and ash into the atmosphere.
The eruption of Huaynaputina represents the largest known eruption in South America in the past 500 years, said study leader Ken Verosub of the University of California, Davis.
This is more than conjecture. This effect of sulfur on global temperatures was also witnessed following a recent eruption.
Like many other volcanic eruptions, Huaynaputina injected a large amount of sulfur into the atmosphere.
Sulfur reacts with water in the air to form sulfuric acid droplets, which reflect some of the sunlight hitting Earth, preventing rays from reaching the surface. The reduction in sunlight cools the surface for a year or so, until the droplets fall out of the atmosphere.
The most recent case of this cooling from a volcanic eruption occurred when Mount Pinatubo, in the Philippines, blew its top in 1991. Global temperatures dropped by about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.5 degrees Celsius) the following year. (Scientists have proposed schemes to artificially inject sulfur into the atmosphere to counteract the effects of global warming.)
Whoa! Artificial sulfur injections, what a concept. Why haven't we tried this before?
Oh, we have ...
Following World War II, the economies of the West grew rapidly, fueled by coal and petroleum that dirtied the atmosphere. So dirty, in fact, that drastic measures were taken to clean up the air. Laws were passed that mandated catalytic converters, low sulfur coal and fossil power plant smokestack scrubbers. Clean air followed. But other nations, such as China and India, got into the act, fueling their economic growth with coal and petroleum, which dirtied the air again late in the 20th Century.
What would a graph of temperatures over time look like under these conditions? Exactly like this.
Globally averaged temperature variations between 1850 and 2007 show the emergence from the "Little Ice Age" in the early 1900's, slight cooling from the 1940's to the 1970's, and then warming again since the 1970's. (HadCRUT3 temperature dataset from the UK Met Office and Univ. of E. Anglia)Cause and effect.
The earth has not been experiencing Global Warming since the 1980's. The earth has been recovering from a period of Manmade Global Cooling caused by atmospheric sulfur that was ended starting in the 1970's. Cooling is beginning again because of sulfur being dumped into the atmosphere by developing nations.
In a few moments of Internet research, I already have more proof of my theory than those beholden to Al Gore; even with the thousands of Monte Carlo computer runs of their climate models. Cause and effect - show me what you've got.
Another challenge to any carbon-phobes reading this. Prove me wrong. I'm being infinitely more open-minded than you are. I will actually listen to criticism and competing theories .
A big tip of the hat to Dr. Roy Spencer for the online education about climate models.
Coming soon: Why carbon doesn't matter - the natural global warming solution.