Monday, March 28, 2011

Nature's Incinerator

Tonight, over a bowl of Cheerios, I asked Sylvia why humanity doesn't just dump all its trash into live volcanoes.

"Ask Al Gore," she said.

Of course it's a remarkably stupid idea, but the thought does make me laugh. It's the sort of solution that the Three Stooges would come up with: just load up your pickup truck with trash, dump it over the side of the crater, and poof! Problem solved in a puff of smoke. Never mind that there are only so many volcanoes on earth or the catastrophic consequences of old refrigerators, used Kleenexes, bald tires and never-used exercise equipment being blown all over the countryside during the inevitable eruption. 

Actually, I can see this serving as the germ of a plot for a James Bond movie. Instead of turning a volcano into a secret SPECTRE base, the bad guys dump toxic chemicals or radioactive material into Krakatoa (or whatever) and cackle gleefully as they turn Mother Nature into the ultimate terrorist. Hey, there's the tagline for the poster:

Mother Nature is the ultimate terrorist. 

Shia LaBoef is Ian Fleming's James Bond 007 in



Totty said...

"... during the inevitable eruption."

You're not a real volcanologist, are you?

"Spectre Of The Jeff" said...

One reason why people don't dump stuff into volcanoes (apart from respect for nature, angering the volcano god, tracking trails of trash through national parks, etc.) may belong to Ray Fernstrom.

Fernstrom was an aviation pioneer who revolutionized the way movie companies use aircraft as mobile camera platforms. You can see his work in "The Miracle Of Todd-AO", (1956) and "Grand Canyon" (1958).

If I recall the story properly, Fernstrom was filming a live volcano using a 70mm camera on his WWII surplus bomber. They orbitted the caldera, getting amazing shots. Then they decided to shoot a flight directly over the crater, looking straight down.

They discovered that among the invisible gases that a volcano emits, oxygen is in very short supply. As soon as they crossed the outer lip, the engines conked out from lack of oxygen. Then the pilots fought blacking out as well. The craft glided across the open crater, fighting riotous updrafts that threatened to flip the powerless plane, while mighty downdrafts attempted to suck her down. She had just enough airspeed to clear the lowest ridge of the far crater. The flight crew brought the engines to life on the other side, shaking off extreme tunnel vision and crippling headaches.

"Let's never do that ever again."