Scientific Colloquium
May 15, 2019, 3:30 p.m.
Building 3, Goett Auditorium

"Tambora and The Year Without a Summer, 1816" 

What happens when the world’s climate reaches a sudden tipping point? 2016 marked the 200th anniversary of the so-called “Year Without a Summer,” 1816, spawned by fallout from the massive eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. During that global climate emergency, volcanic conditions disrupted monsoons in India that contributed to a devastating new strain of cholera, while crop failure and famine crippled nations from China to Western Europe to New England, precipitating food riots and the mass emigration of refugees. The extreme weather crisis also made waves in the world of art and literature, with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the most notable work of imagination to emerge from “The Year Without a Summer.” This lecture, based on Wood’s award-winning Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World—the first book to present a comprehensive investigation of the environmental calamity of 1816—provides a gripping disaster narrative, with important lessons not only for scientists, historians and students, but also local communities and governments tasked with responding to today’s climate crisis.
About the Speaker:

Gillen D’Arcy Wood is the Langan Professor of Environmental Humanities at the University of Illinois, where he is Associate Director of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), and directs the Program in Environmental Writing. His book, Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World (Princeton 2014) has been widely influential in historical climate studies, and was recognized in Book of the Year awards by the Guardian, the London Times, and the American Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. His new book-in-progress, First Ice: The Antarctic Discovery Voyages, 1838-42, reconstructs the early Victorian-era South Polar expeditions as an original encounter with a precariously glaciated Earth and climate change.  
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