36 years ago today (May 18, 2016), Mount Saint Helens in beautiful Washington State quite literally blew its top off.
Just recently there have been significant rumblings under the mountain and throughout the chain of volcanos here in the magnificent Pacific Northwest.
Another eruption is not imminent, but it is coming. Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Crater Lake and Mount Saint Helens itself are all the ‘watch’ list.
This Ring of Fire that defines the Pacific Rim has been active and noisy the last few years. After major earthquakes in Chile and Japan, we’ve seen volcanoes lurch back to life in at least a dozen jurisdictions.
In February, I had to detour away from an active volcano in Nicaragua. Last year Colombia’s Nevado Ruiz – the country’s one glacier began puffing away and of course in Chile there have been several major eruptions.
This tectonic reality has a very positive side. Volcanic soil is excellent and volcanic landscapes can be magnificent. Conversely, as populations have grown the obvious risks to human life has increased significantly. From British Columbia to California, we are waiting for a major earthquake that scientists consider over-due.
While watching the horrendous fires in northern Alberta and the dire effects of El Niño elsewhere in the Americas, it is interesting and perplexing to interpret our relationship with our one and only planet. Indisputably human activity has had a major effect on the Earth’s climate – and at the moment we are experiencing many of the most extreme predictions of climate-change models.
Add to that, the reality of this volcanic Ring of Fire, I cannot help but feel our existence has a higher level of precariousness than we necessarily consider on a daily basis.
Perhaps ignorance is bliss. But I’d rather we plan for extreme events and have a real and honest conversation about maintaining some sort of healthy environment on this planet Earth.