So far it has caused massive travel disruption, but could the Icelandic volcano bring famine and widespread social disorder?
A French historian says it has happened before.
Emmanuel Garnier argues that a volcanic eruption in Iceland in 1783 brought freak weather conditions in Europe that indirectly led to the French Revolution.
“Without a doubt, repeated episodes of eruptions, droughts and floods across Europe played a not insignificant role,” he said. “In France, in particular, in July 1788, there was a storm which destroyed all the main regions which produced wheat for Paris. The next year, in May 1789 to be precise, just at the beginning of the Revolution, we see that the first revolts were not outside Versailles, but outside the bakeries. And that is no coincidence.”
Did an eruption like this indirectly cause hunger, leading to riots outside empty bakeries, prompting Marie Antoinette to retort “let them eat cake?” Could history repeat itself?
Today’s travellers are probably more concerned with getting home. The ash cloud has returned to Iceland, forcing Reykjavik airport to close until midday on Saturday.