Inspired by Iceland
"We are sleeping together in a volcano. ... A wind of revolution blows, the storm is on the horizon." Alexis de Tocqueville
For the release of our new Papaya and Habanero Chilli IPA, El Fuego, we are turning our attention to volcanoes. Structures that have separated the earth’s crust, spewing out hot lava and poisonous gas, volcanoes have always had monumental effects on climate and nature. However, volcanoes have also had a hand in influencing political movements. Arguably one of the most significant events in human history, the French Revolution has been recognised as being directly influenced by an eight-month volcanic eruption in Southern Iceland.
The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull was just a reminder of the colossal effects these natural structures can wield upon the world. Following the eruption, giant volcanic smoke clouds hung over much of western and northern Europe for the good part of a week, causing the highest level of air traffic disruption since the Second World War, with 10 million travellers affected.
This sort of inconvenience and disruption in so many lives is miniscule in comparison to the effects experienced following the eruptions of the Laki volcanic fissure in 1783, which spanned 8 months finally ending in February 1784. Ejecting lava and poisonous gas into the air, much of Iceland’s livestock was wiped out resulting in a famine that claimed a quarter of Iceland’s population. The effects were felt on continental Europe as well, with a furious fog blocking out the sun and unleashing apocalyptic weather for years afterwards. Elevated poverty and famine were experienced for many countries. In France, the severe changes in climate, poor harvests and resulting poverty helped cause years of political unrest eventually building towards the French Revolution in 1789.
The citizens of France redefined their countries political system, bringing down the monarchy and showing the world the power of the people. It's easy to understand the effects a seismic event of an eight-month volcanic eruption can have on human behaviour. Imagine one day without a coffee and you will know the fragility of human patience.