Booknado 2016: April (Bonus: Disaster!)

I have a terrible obsession with disaster books. Whether they are natural or man-made, I read them. Train wrecks, plane crashes, fires, floods: as long as they lead to death, suffering, and sometimes cannibalism, I’m on board. I’m not going to parse the reasoning behind this particular obsession *mumbles lame excuse about survival preparation* but since I read so many books about disasters, I thought it would be fitting to include that category in Booknado.

Theme: A book about a disaster.

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Our original intent with this category was to pick a disaster that happened in each of our birth years. As luck would have it, this book covers two separate volcanic eruptions in Colombia that just happened to cover the relevant years.

This book is of particular interest to me since I live with an active volcano in my backyard. Mt. Rainier sure is pretty, but when the lahar comes a calling, you’d better get the hell out of South Hill.

The eruption at Nevado Del Ruiz in 1985 cost 23,000 people their lives. An eruption at Volcan Galeras claimed the lives of scientists hanging out in an active crater.

What surprised me is how the science of volcanology is so recent (so recent, in fact, that spell check tells me “volcanology” is not a real word). Virtually nothing was known in the way of predicting volcanoes back in 1985, and despite a few advances, there’s not a whole lot more known today. The best it seems we can do is make predictions based on what we know about the past, e.g. Mt. Rainier hasn’t erupted for a while, so yeah, it’ll probably do that again. When? In the future most definitely. 

No Apparent Danger also taught me about tornillos, screw-like waves on a seismograph that precede an earthquake that precedes an eruption which precedes death and mayhem. The account of the two volcanoes, dry and truncated as it is, gives an overall picture of the deadly influences that politics, pride, money, and scientific egotism cast over natural disasters. An eye-opening, informative, but not particularly compelling narration tells the story of what happened before, and will happen again. Though probably not like this:

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I lava this movie. Hehe.

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