|A vehicle travels past vegetation along road covered with volcanic ash, which spewed over 8,000m upward [Reuters]
Apart from tying up tongues, the Icelandic volcano gave us all a taste of how nature can easily unravel human endeavor.
That eruption in April and the recent cold snap in Europe that disrupted air traffic are periodic reminders by Mother Nature that bring us down to earth from our soaring technology-induced highs .
By storm standards, the Eyjafjallajokull eruption was a perfect storm. A combination of wind and ice conditions turned an ordinary eruption into a crisis.
At one stage 29 per cent of global aviation and 1.2 million passengers a day were affected by the airspace closure ordered by European governments, who feared the risk that volcanic ash could pose to aircraft.
Airlines lost at least $1.7 billion due to travel disruptions caused by more than 95,000 flights being cancelled.
The scale of the crisis for the airlines eclipsed 9/11, when US airspace was closed for three days.
As the same volcano had erupted harmlessly a month earlier, we were caught unawares. But if our collective memories were made to flash back to its eruption in 1783, then we would have been more alert to the fallout.
The 1783 eruption collapsed European agriculture, killed tens of thousands and plunged the continent into years of poverty. It well could be one of the triggers for the French Revolution in 1789.
While nothing that drastic, apart from rotting food and flowers and millions of lost revenue for airlines happened in April, it sure was a wakeup call.
In the wake of the Icelandic we, once again, were reminded that more needs to be done so that we can have global responses to global disasters. What we saw was the European Union getting caught off guard and nations scrambling by themselves to save their airlines.
And before we start thinking of all volcanic eruptions as villainous, it is worth remembering that we might owe it to them for paving our coming on earth by choking the life out of dinosaurs.
Eyjafjallajokull was a reminder that we will continue to be pushed around like pawns on nature’s chessboard. The pauses in between are mere timeouts as our relatively young planet makes course corrections.