Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Apparently, The History Channel Don't Know Much About History
As you no doubt surmised, this episode centers on the eruption of Mount St. Helen’s in Washington State—the only major volcanic eruption in the continental United States in modern times. Twelve years old when the volcano blew itself apart, I know full well the significance of the event and remember well the havoc it wrought.
But that was 1980—and this is a series about how the Earth was made. By all scientific consensus, the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. I hardly need to do the math for you, but to illustrate my point…
Earth’s 4.6-billion-year age had long been established by the episode’s debut
This episode first aired in February 2010—30 years after the eruption
So, 4.6 × 109 – 30 = 4,599,999,970 years.
* Even in Christian fundamentalist Ken Ham’s creationist world of nonsense, a volcanic eruption so recent would mean that 99.5% of the 6,000-year-old Earth’s history had already elapsed—making Mount St. Helen’s just as irrelevant in the context of this series.
But the Mount St. Helen’s episode wasn’t the only relatively recent event that made for highly questionable television. How the Earth Was Made also featured episodes about the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883; the Vesuvius catastrophe of ad 79; the formation of the Sahara, which occurred a mere few thousand years before that; and a general overview of tsunamis—which have absolutely nothing to do with the formation of the waterless Earth and have less to do with ongoing processes that currently affect it than any other phenomenon spotlighted in the series.
Don’t misinterpret my harsh criticism as utter disapproval—I enjoy the series and find it highly informative. I just think that the series’ title is deceptive and ill-conceived. Considering the immense timeline of topics covered, it would have done much better with a less-specific title…perhaps something along the lines of How the Earth Did Stuff or When Bad Things Happen to Good Planets.
I don’t demand much from History Channel…but I do demand thematic fidelity!