Our today topic is on three clouds.An Icelandic volcano has inflicted on West Europe a practical anti-globalization exercise. The resulting blocking of air transport, which could not be treated for a long time according to the usual rhetoric of “users taken hostage”, for want of well-known officials, made it necessary for commentators to invent something else. The fragility of our modern societies, threatened by the excesses of the precautionary principle and vulnerable to the famous “butterfly effect, some even ventured to meditate on the “lesson of slowness” given by the cloud, advocating a kind of decay in the simultaneous connection of world spaces.
As often in such cases, stupefaction and idleness give rise to an appetite for history; hence they hasten to seek precedents. The eruption of the Laki on June 8, 1783 naturally made the most serious candidate for the concordance of the times. Far more catastrophic for Iceland than the present awakening of the Eyjafjöll (historians estimate that a fifth of the population died as a result of the famine caused by the destruction of the herd), sulfur dioxide emission of major climate impacts in Europe . The cloud emitted by the volcano dispersing solar radiation into the atmosphere, the various European countries experienced a very significant drop in their temperatures, and climatic disruptions in cascade. These were observed throughout Europe, and the testimonies abound on the social fears which they inspired and the political responses which they provoked. As early as June 17, only nine days after the Laki eruption, a naturalist from Montpellier named Mourgue de Montredon established the link between the Icelandic volcano and atmospheric disturbances. From Lisbon to St. Petersburg, scholarly correspondence on the consequences of these strange clouds experienced the unity of the Republic of Letters, as well as the certainty of the existence of the world.
For this is not a given, but a historical construction that global history must grasp as an object. Such is perhaps the lesson of a third cloud, older and more opaque. It covered the entire Earth, following a cataclysmic eruption of an ocean volcano, during the years 1452-1453, screening solar radiation and causing, according to current specialists, a decrease in average temperatures of 0.7 to 1 ° centigrade . In Cairo, as in London, Moscow and Beijing, the effects of this disturbing fog were observed and described – the intensity of this documentary inscription emphasizing the main lines of force of the great basins of historicity in the world. They were observed, but they could not be explained: they were the consequences of an episode that took place in one of the hollows of the world, in the middle of the Vanuatu archipelago whose Kuwae island was destroyed by the cataclysm . Anthropologists believe that they can trace the trace of this antipodes Atlantis in the oral transmission of the mythical accounts of the foundation of the world in the archipelagic societies of the Pacific Ocean; and if we can now consider the eruption of the Kuwae volcano as the original scene of a global scenario,
The paradox is that one of the only global episodes experienced by the XV th century, which can also be effectively described as a first moment of invention in the world, took place in one of the few places in the planet that remained apart from the connection of time and knowledge of the world. Here’s why this event is not an open World history in the XV th century appeared recently  . For it evokes, paradoxically, the aspirations and difficulties of global history, viewed less as a method than as a requirement, and more as a disorientation of the point of view than as a disciplinary delimitation.
The history of contemporaneity is perhaps its true object. The cloud of 1452 extended over worlds that were not yet contemporary. The one of 2010 immediately sought a precedent in the eruption of Laki in 1783 because here our conception of the world, as a community of destiny and danger, and our ideal of a globalized history. The latter may evidently be only emancipatory. Were some journalists warmed by enthusiasm, even in a touching revival of the most radical Labroussian history, claimed that the Icelandic volcano had triggered the French revolution? One can dream – and contemporary Iceland, land of thrillers and world music,is there for that, since the Middle Ages and its sagas, at least. But is it so certain today to live in contemporaneity a common destiny of citizens of the world when the planes are nailed to the ground?