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Thomas Cole's 'The Fall of Rome'

Thomas Cole’s ‘The Fall of Rome’

Did American volcanoes trigger fall of Roman Empire?

On March 24 536AD the sky suddenly darkened across continental Europe as a thick dust cloud rolled in and stayed put for 18 months. Historians such as Prokopios record that the Sun shone as dimly as the Moon, sparking summer frosts and snow showers and providing too little light to ripen crops and fruit. Three years later a similar dust veil blocked out sunlight for several months…

 

Indonesian mud volcano probably human-triggered

In late May 2006, an unusual disaster befell part of the Indonesian island of Java: out of the blue, the area was flooded by a mud volcano. Not a mudflow racing down your typical spits-fire-and-ash volcano, but a natural eruption of mud. It’s been erupting ever since. Almost 40,000 people have now been displaced by the flood of mud, and almost $3 billion in damages and associated costs (like levee construction to limit the flooded area). The obvious question on everyone’s mind has been what triggered this strange disaster, since there was no history of mud eruptions in the area. This goes beyond academic curiosity as, despite a suspicious earthquake, it seems the most likely culprit was human activity…

 

Natural disasters top agenda at Pacific foreign ministers meeting

Better preparation for natural disasters in the Pacific will be at the top of the agenda for foreign ministers from 18 countries meeting July 9-10 in Sydney, Australia. The Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting will gather representatives from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Associate members French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Tokelau will also be present. Micronesia, a member of the Pacific Island Forum, will be the only country absent due to the inauguration of its president…

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