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Humble Humans

If Simon Winchester is correct in his new book -- Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883' -- the current trial in Indonesia of accused perpetrators of last year's terrorist bombing in Bali may be part of the lingering reverberation of the volcanic eruption--the loudest sound in modern human experience, heard 3,000 miles away -- that made an island disappear.

Billions of tons of material -- six cubic miles of it -- were hurled 120,000 to 160,000 feet in the air. They filtered sunlight, lowering the Earth's temperature and creating spectacular sunsets that for months inspired painters and poets.

And in the East Indies outpost of the Dutch empire, where a notably relaxed and tolerant Islamic faith had long flourished, Krakatoa, by terrifying and dispossessing people, may have catalyzed the much fiercer form of Islam that fused with anticolonialism. It is alive and dealing death today.

There's an interesting twist on Environmental Determinism.


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