2017-11-10 / Commentary

Fighting against nature

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation
Mike Cox

The crowd gathered at Old Faithful, waiting for the punctual geyser to explode. A nearby clock told everyone approximately when the next eruption would happen. A young boy sat watching the clock. He finally turned to his dad and notified him that Old Faithful was tardy.

Later that day, I was sitting in a chair outside the lodge near the Yellowstone geysers. A gathering crowd told me Old Faithful was again nearing showtime. A car caught my attention.

The driver pulled into a No Parking zone next to the hotel entrance and waited for just a couple of minutes. As the geyser erupted on schedule, a hand holding a camera appeared from the passenger window, snapped some pictures, and disappeared. The car, having never stopped running, reentered the flow of traffic and hurried to another popular American natural tourist destination. Bucket list reduced by one item.

Modern folks take nature for granted. Televised documentaries, easy driving access, and incessant advertising of these places combine to make many of us think the world around us is a reality TV show complete with climactic plot changes just before commercial breaks. We even think we can control what happens or at least bend it to suit our needs.

Our ancestors respected and feared the natural world. They lived at the mercy of Mother Nature in many ways and relied on tribal chiefs and holy men to explain why bad things happened. For a long time, no one really understood what was going on.

Animals like wolves were nearly wiped out because we feared them so. Natural happenings like thunder, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes were scary events we invented supernatural entities to explain. The people who learned to predict seasonal changes, eclipses, and movement in the heavens were bestowed with great power.

When science began to discover the true causes for many of the natural phenomenons we witnessed, lots of humans weren’t convinced. To this day there are folks who consider the old, superstitious explanation to be more accurate than the scientific one. Even among science believers, there are some blind spots that just won’t go away, especially during a weather crisis.

Nothing brings the world around us into focus like a wall of rising water, winds that rip out ancient oak trees, or trying to get through a couple of days without electricity. We huddle together, literally and figuratively, and help each other through the disaster any way we can. It is almost therapeutic.

The problem is that as soon as the disaster is over we are back at our old habits. Building homes in flood plains and on the beach, continuing to use fossil fuel energy, and wasting water like we have more than enough for the eight billion (and growing) or so people living on Earth.

Scientists have long confirmed man’s actions affect how the planet behaves, but people with much to lose raise questions about those findings. A lot of us are basing our decision on which side is correct by taking a political side. It should be obvious to all of us that politicians can barely function under normal circumstances.

They don’t have a chance against nature.

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