Smoke gets in your eyes
This week has seen smoke from wildfires in Canada filling the air for thousands of miles. On the East Coast, residents are breathing the particles of fires on the other side of the continent. The air quality levels have been rated unhealthy, air filters are getting clogged up, and the smell of smoke makes it seem like the fire is nearby.
Smog from a distant event was also clouding cities 140 years ago, after the 1883 the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa. It wasn’t a single eruption, but continuous activity from May through to October, peaking in August of that year. Tremors radiated out across Asia. It was spectacular and devastating, the strongest burst loud enough to be heard in Perth, Western Australia - 2000 miles away. The pressure wave it generated circled the globe three times.
Seismic activity continued for weeks. This was before there were accurate predictions available, although local observers were aware before the eruptions that the island’s volcanic activity had been increasing. The eruption and related tsunamis killed more than 30,000 people.
Since this was the age of the telegraph, news spread around the world, albeit by an indirect route. The Transpacific telegraph would not be completed for several decades. Telegrams from Asia to the Americas had to take the long way round, via Europe.