It goes around and around…

Backyard and Beyond

Every twenty years or so, my dander gets up and I write a letter to the New York Times. In the mid-1980s, I did it to spank Edward Teller, who poo-pooed the concept of nuclear winter in an Op-Ed, with a reminder of the global climate effects of “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.” That was the year (1816) without a summer, following the ejection into the atmosphere of human-historically unprecedented amounts of volcanic crap from Tambora in Indonesia. Although best known among the literate as that gloomy Swiss summer the Shelleys, Byron, and Polidori stayed indoors and made up some ghost stories, they were the lucky ones. The poor of Europe, following the long disaster of the Napoleonic wars, were walloped; it’s been called the last great subsistence crisis in that part of the world. The U.S. (we only had one coast then) was hard hit, too, forcing…

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