19 November, 2011 at 18:07 #922anneParticipant
The Laki volcanic fissure in Iceland erupted in 1783 over a period of eight months. The lethal choking haze of sulphur dioxide drifted and covered the whole of the northern hemisphere down to the lattitude of about north Africa. The gases poisoned plants,animals and vegetation,and weather patterns were severely affected causing famine in Iceland, Egypt and Japan.
It is difficult for scientists to separate the deaths at this time from being caused by the volanic effects, or from the results of extreme weather, starvation, cold and illness, however it is certain that the incidence of deaths around 1783 was much higher than normal in Iceland, Britain and France.
The British naturalist Gilbert White described the event as ” an amazing and portentious one … the peculiar haze, that prevailed for many weeks in this island and in every part of Europe and even beyond its limits was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man.”
“The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground,and floors of rooms, but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting. At the same time the heat was so intense that butcher’s meat could hardly be eaten on the day after it was killed.”
Some historians believe that the years of extreme weather and crop failure in Europe increased the misery of farm workers in France helping to trigger the French Revolution in 1789.
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