Both Los Angeles and Hawaii have palm trees, movie stars and unfortunately, pollution!

Mar 6, 2020 | General Information

There has been much discussion in recent years regarding pollution of the planet and particularly the pollution that is caused directly by humans. There is much evidence for this claim and it is undeniably true that with the excessive burning of fossil fuels found within our earths crust that we are, at least to some degree, effecting the global weather. The speculation as to how much is just that, speculation. Though it would seem prudent to diminish the rate of pollution we can control, it is rarely discussed that the forms of pollution we receive which are generated by the planet itself when viewed under certain perspectives may possibly be seen to be a greater threat than anything that man is capable of doing to the planet. One example of such polluting devastation can be seen right here in Hawaii and is directly caused by the continuous explosions and eruptions which have been responsible for the growth of every Hawaiian Island over the course of time and in fact have brought them from the bottom of the sea over 30,000′ to meet the surface of the ocean and of course many of them have continued to grow and are now 10,000′ to 13,000′ above sea level.

When I first arrived to live in Hawaii in 1973 the long and continuous eruption of Kilauea had another 10 years before it would begin its eruption in earnest and during that time I don’t ever remember having become aware of the term VOG. The word was invented to represent the conditions that occurred when sulfur dioxide which was emitted by the volcano was brought in contact with the Oxygen in the atmosphere as well as moisture and sunlight. The resultant material is referred to as VOG and it can prove every bit as devastating to the health of humans and other life forms as can smog as it might be found in Los Angeles, Beijing on Delhi.

It was in 1983 that a much much more vigorous level of eruptions began to occur on the Big Island and VOG then became a constant component of Hawaii’s weather system. Because the Big Island is located in the far south west corner of the state and because the general wind pattern effecting the islands is the north east trades on most days the volcano particulate tends to travel from its origin at Kilauea and blow across the southern part of the island passing over Kailua-Kona and then blowing out to sea. On the more rare days when the wind blows from the south or does not blow at all the VOG will move to cover the other islands in the chain and indeed the VOG footprint can be seen expending way beyond the furthest major Hawaiian Island in the group, Kauai.
There are alerts forecast over the news if VOG is going to be frightfully bad on certain days and even when just seen on a much lower level the effects of the VOG can be seen in issues regarding respiration, itchy eyes and reactions due to asthma.

Luckily most days in Hawaii are VOG free and we hope it continues that way but the world seems to effect it own climate when and how it chooses. In 1883 the world was caught off guard by Krakatoa and the aftermath of that event caused the worlds temperature to drop for a year by 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit and the more recent Pinatubo eruption in 1991 in the Philippines caused the world’s sunlight reaching its surface to diminish about 10%.