|Mt St Helens blowing its top|
We didn't have instantaneous news at that time, before cell phones became smart. We did have little wireless phones back then, but we used them for (gasp!) telephone calls. Somehow, though, the word got around the office about the eruption, and at home that evening we all learned that it was not only a major eruption, but due to the largest landslide in recorded history, the mountain lost 1,300 feet of its elevation.
Within three minutes of the volcanic eruption, the lateral blast, which traveled at more than 300 miles per hour, scorched 230 square miles of forest. More than 900,000 tons of ash was cleaned up from areas around Washington. (CNN)Today in a Zoom class sponsored by the Y, the instructors asked everyone where they were that day. Of course, if you were younger than forty, you could not answer the question, but since this was a senior class, it was fascinating to hear what people who lived around here remember from that time. I was one of the few non-natives, it turns out.
Yesterday I stayed up longer than usual to finish the latest book on my Kindle, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. I learned a ton from the book and went to the author's website (David Quammen) and found that he has written fifteen books so far and is still going strong. He discusses various diseases throughout time that have jumped from animal hosts into humans (called zoonosis). Although this one is scary, I was truly frightened to learn about some other viruses that didn't become pandemics, thank heavens, because they were way more lethal than this one. Quammen offers a few nuggets to help us understand how today's coronavirus pandemic came about (Orion Magazine).
- Prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best.
- Zoonotic spillovers will keep coming, as long as we drag wild animals to us and split them open.
- A tropical forest, with its vast diversity of visible creatures and microbes, is like a beautiful old barn: knock it over with a bulldozer and viruses will rise in the air like dust.
- Leave bats, in particular, the hell alone.
On that cheery note, I have to say I was truly fascinated by the book and what I learned from it. I will continue to wash my hands and follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask for the foreseeable future. I hope you will, too.