Monday, 19 April 2010

Volcanoes. Not good.

As anyone in the Northern hemisphere is no doubt aware (especially those trying to get flights to Europe), we've got some volcano action coming out of Iceland, specifically from the volcano at Eyjafjallajokull.
Flights are cancelled. We're having some very pretty sunsets. Basically that's about it.
But it could get so much worse.
A few months ago I did a school visit and talked about Dark Goddess. Now I know I'm meant to be writing horror, but it was the first time the audience were really stunned into a fearful silence.
Vampires, werewolves, ghosts and ghouls are scary, until you turn the lights on. Deep, deep down, you suspend the disbelief and enjoy the thrill of beings scared, but you know it's not for real. Those monsters stay firmly locked in the cupboard or hidden under the bed.
But, when you look about what happens out there, in the wide world, you realise how close we've come, as a species, to buying it big time.
As Billi Paxton once so wisely reported "Game over, man!"
Near extinction events.
When I started research into Dark Goddess I knew Baba Yaga would represent Mother Nature, the deadly side of Mother Nature. She would be hurricanes, earthquakes, tidal waves, all those bad things that happen and we can do nothing about. No matter what we do. Stronger buildings. Early warning systems. Deep bunkers. But there is one truth that cannot be avoided.
Nature ALWAYS wins.
The recent eruption has caused more that significant disruption, but seriously, it's small scale. We've had bigger and far far worse. And we will again.
Baba Yaga's sickened by the pollution and destruction humanity has wrought over the planet. Species decimated and made extinct. The air and the earth we depend on, polluted and ravaged. Someone, something, must stand up for the species that have suffered under humanity's rise. And that's pretty much every species under the sun.
What have we done to make the world a better place for anything but ourselves? Or even ourselves?
If we can't fix it, maybe it's time to wipe the slate clean and start over.
That's what Baba Yaga thinks and ask yourself, is she wrong?
That's where volcanoes come in. I needed something that would be a sort of global 'ground zero' for life. Annihilation for most of life, just allowing enough to survive, more manageable numbers, to start over. But all we know would end.
And guess what?
It may well happen.
That's what froze the audience in the school. How perilous our existence is. Every single day.
Supervolcanoes, maybe you've heard of them? The last one, Toga, went a few years ago, 74,000 years ago to be exact, an eyeblink in geological timescales. It wiped out 90% of the human population. 90%. We're only here because a handful of people survived. When I mean handful, I mean not enough to fill a football stadium. So few that, given the odds, it's a miracle that we made it at all. If a few more had caught a cold, or the flu, it really would have been game over.
Now, that was the last major explosion, but we've got a very active supervolcano busy bubbling away in Yellowstone. The entire park is a volcano. So big you can only really see it from space.
It explodes every 600,000 years, give or take. the last eruption was 640,000 so you know what that means? It's overdue.
Dark Goddess is the wrath of nature. It's what can, will happen. Some of it is our - humanity's - fault, some of it isn't. Baba Yaga is the vengeful spirit of the Earth Mother, and she's got every reason to feel very pissed with humanity.
Nature always wins.


Gordy's Blog said...

Abso-bloody-lutely terrifying!!!!

JaneyV said...

Are you acquainted with Lovelock's Gaia Principle which defines the Earth, oceans and atmosphere as being one single self-regulating organism? He postulates that when any of the core systems are knocked out of whack the organism will readjust itself to bring it back into harmony (homeostasis). It appears that the system is reaching crisis because of the negative influence of man. Lovelock reckons that part of the readjustment will involve a huge "cull" of humanity. Perhaps the Yellowstone supervolcano will oblige to give poor Gaia some relief.

Jon M said...

Thanks Sarwat. I was feeling a little glum and needed cheering up. Good job I dropped by... ;o)

SarwatC said...

That's me, you're daily dose of sunshine!
Janey, I do know of the book but haven't read it. What I did read was 'The World without Us' and while not dealing with the disasters that would make humanity extinct, did show how quickly nature would recover once we're gone. Pretty damn fast, basically!

Nandini said...

Scary! I think Togo is such an interesting reference point in human history. Because it nearly wiped us out, and because it shows how closely related we actually are. But far more people know of the asteroid vs the dinosaurs than the volcano vs the humans ...

The premise for Dark Goddess sounds fascinating.

Nandini said...

Toba I meant ...