Friday, March 11, 2011

She's on the attack...again

So Mother Nature has struck back yet again. This time she decided to pummel the docile island country of Japan with a magnitude 8.9 earthquake, the largest the country has sustained on record, and among the largest throughout the world over the last century, causing a massive that tsunami that has reeked havoc throughout the Pacific rim. While the current death toll remains relatively low, somewhere around a few hundred, and expected to climb to somewhere around a few thousand - nowhere close to the 230,000 plus that were killed during the 2004 earthquake/tsunami in the Indian Ocean - this is a terrible tragedy, and shows once again how truly small humans are. We can have all the technology we want, and build as much as we want, and Mother Nature will find a way to come along and destroy it with simplicity and impunity. While it's terribly unfortunate that so many people perish during these acts of nature, I think it's important for us to use the tragedy as an opportunity to reflect on how bold we've become in the face of a foe we cannot match, yet try to time and again.
What I mean by this is that we, as humans, think that we "rule" the earth. Of course, most people understand that there are things beyond our control, and beyond our power, but for the most part we pretty much think that we can do whatever we would like to the planet, and that the only thing that is stopping us from doing it is us. Hence the use of the popular "we're destroying the planet". I always find this phrase both comical, and odd. "We're" not doing anything to the planet that the planet cannot handle, what "we're" doing is making the planet uninhabitable for ourselves, and possibly for several other species. Therefore, we're obviously having an impact on the planet, I'm not so ignorant to believe that we aren't, but it's not the planet that we need to worry about, it's ourselves (and the other species that we will - and have - inevitably affected with our blatant disregard). I think this is one of the major problems with the environmental campaigns to "Save the Planet"; it is not that their heart isn't in the right place, it certainly is, it's the fact that people don't really care all that much about the "planet". The planet is big, and it's difficult for people to imagine that humans can really have such an affect on something so large (which is partly true); and because they can't wrap their head around the idea, they either dismiss is as bunk, or simply ignore it. However, if the slogan was "Humans are making the planet uninhabitable for humans, and if we don't change our ways in the next couple of centuries, we will all die out", I think people would care a little bit more. Things need to be put in a perspective people understand. Making bold claims about destroying the planet does't speak to people, the only thing that is going to destroy the planet is time and possibly an asteroid, but if you tell people that humans will no longer exist, it might be more relevant and comprehendable.
It's somewhat ridiculous the lengths we go to to battle Mother Nature; especially when we know any and all attempts are futile. However, I think that the idea that we've done something gives us piece of mind, even if we're just deluding ourselves to the fact that the only reason something doesn't happen is not because of our precautions and preparations, it's because Mother Nature hasn't decided to do it yet.

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