Introduction

 

Only when

Will we realise we cannot eat money

 

 When Toba volcano in western Sumatra erupted 73,000 +/- 4000 years ago it was (and still is) the largest volcanic cataclysm to have taken place on planet earth for the last 28 million years. (for detailed e-book on this go to http://indiaeng.com/Tsunami-2004--Andaman%20fault/index.htm)

 

Toba is likely to have been the place where modern Homo sapiens most dangerous and fiercest struggle for survival began. Countless other species faced the same trial - and many did not make it. Our ancestors did.

Pyroclastic ash fall of 800 km3 at a thickness of 10 cm averaged over the entire earth. It has been noted that where located, the fall deposits show little decrease in thickness and grain size with distance from Toba so that the deposit can perhaps be traced much further than the current limit at 3,100 km in central India. If so, the 800 km3 estimate may be much less than the actual value.

In addition, it is thought that the staggering amount of 1010 metric tons of H2SO4 (sulphuric acid) was blown into the atmosphere by the YTT event .

It is possible that this thickest of deposits found so far represents an accumulation of wind-blown or water-driven ash, but even if it does, most of Southeast Asia, parts of Sunda, the Andaman and Nicobar islands, along with all of the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka were covered in deep ash. Such a heavy fall would have exterminated most plant and animal life in the affected areas.

 

One fact stands out: the Tambora eruption produced "only" 40 km3 of ash yet it influenced the world climate over several years. Toba blew at least 16 times more ash into the atmosphere as well as a vast amount of sulphuric acid, and that its debris reached much higher levels, staying in the atmosphere much longer. Particles blown into stratosphere could have remained there for centuries, even millennia, blocking and altering the influx of solar energy to the lower atmosphere.

 

Moreover, Greenland ice cores have produced evidence of a rapid and enormous cooling event in the northern hemisphere at the time of the YTT event : the air temperature in Greenland dropped by 16oC within 160 years and then rose again slowly (ref. Lang C. 1999). In Greenland, the sulphuric acid spike was followed by a marked cooling event lasting at least 1,000 years. (Chart adapted from Zielinski G.A.,1996 ).

 

Included in this exchange of biota, incidentally, was also the replacement of early modern humans (Homo sapiens) by the more cold-adapted Homo neanderthalensis in the mediterranean area.

 

Cold-sensitive tropical vegetation would have suffered similarly.

 

Two major effects on plant life from high-atmospheric opacity are reduction of light levels and low temperatures. For aerosol optical depths between ca. 1 and ca. 10 the reduction in light levels expected from the Toba eruption would range from dim-Sun conditions (ca. 75% of sunlight transmitted), like those seen after the 1815 Tambora eruption, to that of an overcast day (ca.10% sunlight transmitted). Experiments with young grass plants have shown how net photosynthesis varies with light intensity. For a decrease to 10% of the noon value for a sunny Summer day, photosynthesis was reduced by ca. 85% (ref. van Keulen et al., 1975), and photosynthesis also drops with decreasing temperatures (ref. Redman, 1974).

 

Animal and plant life suddenly hit by the devastating climatic aftermath of the Toba YTT event needed to be tough and extremely adaptable to survive. Among the countless species that had to face this challenge following the eruption 73,000 years ago, there was a relatively new arrival: early Homo sapiens.

 

A Most Peculiar Mammal: Homo sapiens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schematic progress of the post-Toba bottleneck. We do not really know precisely what happened, where and when during the Toba bottleneck. Earlier we have seen the volcanological and climatological sequence of events. What effect these events had on the then living population of Homo sapiens is difficult, even to guess. For example, we do not know with any degree of certainty how big the pre-existing human population was, to what extent it was affected, what the death rate was and where, when the climax of the bottleneck was reached and when and with what speed or where the eventual recovery started. Still less do we know how the other survivors of the genus Homo or the apes managed to get through this.

 

During the two million years before the Toba bottleneck there lived several human-like hominid species with large brains, upright walk (bipedalism) and small teeth.

 

 

 

Endocranial range (brain size) and Body height ratio for major groups of the genus Homo:

1. Homo sapiens

2. Erectines (Homo erectus etc.)

3. Australopithecines

4. Homo floresiensis

 

 

Winner takes all

Of the four species of the genus Homo that made it through the Toba bottleneck, only one is left today: Homo sapiens.

It was not the number of individuals that brought "victory" (if victory is what it is). It was an obsessive interest in technology.

 

What Homo sapiens is doing now, is, that he

(1) continues his fascination with technology,

(2) has begun to multiply to vast numbers, and

(3) tries to continue his expansion to the planets

This is the problem today. He has not learnt to be careful with his deeds, and goes behind his own making the 'MONEY'.

 

Man has to undo all harm he has done to Earth, like