When Indonesia's Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, it unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. The volcano's massive sulfate dust cloud enveloped the Earth, cooling temperatures and disrupting major weather systems for more than three years. Communities worldwide endured famine, disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale. Here, Gillen D'Arcy Wood traces Tambora's global and historical reach: how the volcano's three-year climate change regime initiated the first worldwide cholera pandemic, expanded opium markets in China, and plunged the United States into its first economic depression. Bringing the history of this planetary emergency to life, Tambora sheds light on the fragile interdependence of climate and human societies to offer a cautionary tale about the potential tragic impacts of drastic climate change in our own century.
Gillen D'Arcy Wood is professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he directs the Sustainability Studies Initiative in the Humanities.
List of Illustrations xi Note on Measurements xv INTRODUCTION Frankenstein's Weather 1 ONE The Pompeii of the East 12 TWO The Little (Volcanic) Ice Age 33 THREE "This End of the World Weather" 45 FOUR Blue Death in Bengal 72 FIVE The Seven Sorrows of Yunnan 97 SIX The Polar Garden 121 SEVEN Ice Tsunami in the Alps 150 EIGHT The Other Irish Famine 171 NINE Hard Times at Monticello 199 EPILOGUE Et in Extremis Ego 229 Acknowledgments 235 Notes 237 Bibliography 259 Index 281