So here is a short video by Shane Ness (a/k/a Tattered Passport), the adventurer and video blogger whose work I’ve featured a few times before–such as when he went wine tasting, investigated an abandoned Antarctic research station, and scaled “Ob Hill” in Antarctica. Right now (October 2015) he and his wife are on a trek across the breadth of Australia in a 1976 Kombi van. There have already been several adventures so far that you can see on the Tattered Passport YouTube channel, but this one struck me because it’s short, simple and very beautiful: a series of stunning sunsets over the magnificent desolation of South Australia known as the Nullarbor Plain.
Sunsets have been in my mind this week. As I’ve been working on my dissertation, which involves temporary climate change caused by volcanoes, I’ve had to look at some sources from 200 years ago where people describe seeing particularly beautiful sunsets. In the 1810s the brilliant colorations of the sunsets were influenced by volcanic dust in the atmosphere, first from an 1809 eruption of an unknown mountain and then by the blockbuster 1815 blast of Tambora. The “Tambora sunsets” of the 1810s were well-documented; some were even painted by British landscape artist J.M.W. Turner. Volcanic sunsets also followed the 1883 Krakatoa eruption and the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. There have been some eruptions this year, but none big enough to cause a widespread outbreak of spectacular sunsets; what Shane has seen in Australia in the last few days has just been a normal feature of the amazingly beautiful world that we live in.
Once in a while, amidst the bustle of our daily lives, we need to take time out and notice something as ordinary but as beautiful as a really great sunset. The Earth and its beauty is greater than anything we can create.