Mother Nature Fights Back
By Cam Mather
“You want oil, I’ll give you oil!” I read this quote on a blog last week and can’t remember where, but I think it’s a pretty good description of the catastrophic oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s like Mother Nature has said “I’ve had enough of your insistent drilling and pumping.” It seems particularly appropriate to be discussing Mother Nature the day after Mother’s Day.
So is it just me or does it seem like there are an awful of natural “events” happening lately? Volcanoes in Iceland, earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, California and various other places, record rains and floods in the northern U.S. and around Nashville, the usual mudslides and storms and on and on. I guess that the oil spill in the gulf is a person-made event, but considering how long we’ve been drilling in the oceans, one would expect there to have been more of these. The technical explanation of the Gulf of Mexico spill is that methane (natural gas) which is a natural part of oil fields, is very compressed in cold, low pressure fields 2 miles below sea level, and as this big methane bubble made its way up the pipe, by the time it hit the drilling platform it had tremendous pressure and was just looking for a spark to explode.
I have to remember when I make observations about the multitude of natural disasters that we have a 24 hour news cycle that is able to magnify natural disasters. Maybe it just “seems” like there’s more disasters because there is always someone on the spot with a camera to record them. Plus, with 7 billion people on the planet, it doesn’t seem to matter where a natural disaster hits, there will be human beings affected – lots of them.
Right now it just seems a little too coincidental. There are just too many events. And the events are too big and seem to have hugely disruptive results. I just don’t mean the devastation of earthquakes, I mean the volcano in Iceland. It’s playing havoc with air travel. This is a good thing. Air travel is something that must end if we want to stop irrevocable damage to the atmosphere that supports us. But this natural event has turned human endeavors on their ear. Mother Nature just didn’t care that some Canadians had been vacationing in Europe and had to get back to work. What’s even more bizarre is to watch the news reports showing indignant travelers berating Canadian officials in Europe for not helping them! How dare they! Get out there and plug up that volcano! I’ve gotta be back at work on Monday!
All the climate change models that have made predictions about melting ice and increasing extreme weather have been accurate. What has not been accurate has been the intensity and the speed in which climate change is occurring. Scientists have predicted what will happen, but they have been conservative and have underestimated the severity and the speed, erring on the side of caution.
On a personal level we’ve had weird weather this spring. We were wearing T-shirts at Easter. Easter is usually cold and snowy. The snow was gone a month and half early. For weeks people have been asking me “Have you got your garden in yet.?” I try to be polite when I tell them “No, it’s too early.” Then this weekend we had snow flurries and last night we had a brutal frost. Only the most hardy plants would have survived. I’m sure with climate change we’ll be able to plant things earlier, but so far that will only end in tears. Mother Nature still bats last in the frost department.
So next time a big storm rolls through, behave like humans did eons ago before science and religion tried to explain all these natural phenomena and soothe us. Remember we burn coal to make electricity, to make light in our homes. When a lightning storm rolls through that seems really brutal, think of Mother Nature firing those lightning bolts down at you, like a Greek god in Fantasia saying “You want light (from coal) I’ll give you some light.” Then maybe you’ll get inspired to finally put up those solar panels and stop being part of the problem.