Consequences Half a World Away
As Mt. Tambora pumped volcanic gases, namely sulfur, into the atmosphere it shifted the world's weather patterns which caused global temperatures to drop as much as 3 to four 4 degrees Celsius (Bragg, 2016). This drastic change struck the European continent hard. Already struggling with mass population displacement and a ravaged political system after the Napoleonic wars, the mass famine, disease, and panic brought on by irregular weather patterns was especially destructive.
The spring of 1816 in Europe was cold and rainy, pouring for 8 weeks straight in Ireland. This drastically reduced the growing season (Evans, 2002). There was frost in June and July and by summer’s end there was snow “colored sort of orange and brown” falling in central Europe (Bragg, 2016). The crop failures were immense and devastating. Striking particularly hard in Ireland and the southwestern Germanic states; the British Empire struggled to cope with the food subsistence crisis but thanks to its robust maritime trade network it was able to get by better than most (Bragg, 2016).
Regardless of how well each individual empire’s economies coped, the price of food, particularly bread, rose drastically across Europe; this came in already tumultuous times when intercontinental trade was in shambles and unemployment was soaring (Bragg, 2016). The result was widespread hunger strikes, peasant discontent and riots (Heidorn, 2000).
People were aware the weather was irregular, and the famines and epidemics only added to the hysteria of an already wrecked continent. Churches, specifically in France, saw an influx in attendance, as many at the time theorized the extraordinary events to be divine wrath or retribution (Bragg, 2016).
All this only exacerbated already present conditions and many sought a chance at a better life elsewhere. Westward emigration across the Atlantic from the British Isles spiked (Bragg, 2016). Unfortunately, the eastern United States was not spared the effects of the Year Without a Summer.
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