Nature is evil
November 19, 2007
Half a million acres burned in Southern California, and the victims are wondering what happened and why. They proclaim that the fires ” and you can toss in Katrina and any other natural disasters ” represent “Mother Nature at her worst.”
How typical for techno-man to characterize nature with a malicious personality, as if evil nature has a plot to foil human enterprise. Nature the antagonist is vilified, scorned, cursed … and totally misunderstood.
Nature is simply dictating limits on man’s follies. The California wildfires mark a limit to exurban growth in fire-prone areas. Katrina sent the same message about development in flood plains.
Lessons learned? Naaaa. People will go on building and living wherever they damned well please, and we will go on blaming nature for whatever mishaps occur. But there is a lesson here, if only we would learn it.
Rather than delude ourselves with the hubristic illusion that human beings are in charge, the big lesson is that nature runs the show through the decree of natural laws. We either heed those natural laws with humility and work within nature’s physical limits, or we violate them at the risk of brutal reprisals, such as fires, floods, famines, pestilence … all the prophetic biblical doom and gloom.
The climate change genie is out of the bottle because we messed with natural laws, the full consequences of which we don’t even understand. We ignore climate science, push our agendas and hope for a techno-panacea. We hope to mollify nature in order to guarantee our entitlements.
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In Aspen, we roll the dice each year on the gamble that snow will cover the mountains in time for ski season. Talk about faith! Our valley’s economy relies on weather for five months of the year, and we blame nature if snow is a no-show.
In Georgia, where an acute drought is shriveling up the state, the governor openly prays for rain, beseeching God for salvation from stubborn, old nature. During the disastrous ski season of 1976-77, “The Year of Un,” Colorado ski resorts brought in Ute Indians to dance for snow in a pagan plea for pow-pow.
Rain and snow aren’t the only natural limits. Oil expert Boone Pickens recently concluded that oil has reached peak global production and that it will taper off from here … just as the developing world’s thirst for oil is exploding.
The global picture ought to shift our behavior, but it doesn’t. Aspen’s elite continue building monster homes and generating huge carbon footprints, which is utterly ironic in a ski town that will suffer most from carbon-induced climate change.
Considering China’s coal-plant-a-week energy boom and India’s emerging car culture, Aspen’s monster homes are only a small increment of folly. If all the monster homes in Aspen were suddenly gone, it wouldn’t make a gnat’s ass of difference to global carbon output as the developing world seeks its entitlements.
We are not a species that tolerates limits well, so we vilify nature for its shortcomings. We are victims to an authority that we contest with technology ” the false god of our undoing, which is supposed to redeem us from the evils of nature.
There is little mention of stepping lighter on the land, of tempering consumer appetites. We lack the humility to honor nature as a beneficial, life-giving, nurturing force that sustains us. We fail to realize that nature has given us everything, from the atmosphere to our sorry genetic predispositions.
As long as nature is our cornucopia, providing an endless fount of goodies, we have an abiding, albeit, distant relationship with it. We have become ungrateful guests at the banquet of life as we gorge ourselves sick and then curse our host for not serving more.
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