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By Art Cashin
On this day (-1) in 1883, on a sleepy little island in the Sundra Strait, west of Java, a sleepy little volcano began to stir. (Actually, the volcano probably got the wake-up call the day before when natives said the ground was so hot they got blisters on their feet.)
Anyway, on this particular Monday morning, between dawn and mid-morning, the volcano (virtually inactive for 200 years) decided to strut its stuff. And, boy did it ever! In four convulsive heaves, it produced the greatest explosion in recorded history. The island and the volcano are listed in your history books as Krakatoa.
The eruption was so large; it set off four earthquakes and over fifteen other volcanoes in a 100-mile neighborhood. The explosion was so great that within four hours windows would break 3000 miles away. Even ten days later the recently repaired windows would continue to be pelted by rock fragments (Yes folks, the same 3000 miles away). Now, if you were a touch closer, say 500 miles, there were these 100 foot tidal waves. (That's what killed nearly 40,000 people in such a sparsely populated area.) Not to worry, by the time the tidal waves traveled the thousand of miles to Africa, they were only 10 feet tall.
But then there was the dust. Krakatoa hurled so much of itself into the sky that the island, virtually twice the size of Manhattan, nearly disappeared. The temperature of the nearby ocean jumped 50 degrees. The sky was so dark that for three days there was no sun. And for five years, as far away as Hawaii, the sunsets were green not red. And, oh yeah, for the next 25 years from America to Europe, the climate was colder.
To mark the day, stop by the Environmental Lounge and listen to the bartender talk about how man is upsetting Nature's delicate balance. But don't sip anything with CFC in it.
Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.