Tags: Place | Hide | From | Mother | Nature

No Place to Hide From Mother Nature

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 12:00 AM

Got an ingrown toenail? Global warming did it. Flat tire? Global warming is to blame. See how easy it is when you have something handy to blame for misfortunes? It's more fun than merely saying "Gosh darn it."

All together now: Global warming caused (insert disaster here).

That is where you can expect the New York Times to go to find what is responsible for just about everything that goes wrong, and I assume we'll soon be reading long and boring stories about how global warming caused Katrina to go rampaging along the Gulf Coast.

Its first reaction, however, was to concoct a story that put the blame squarely on ... us. People, the Times pontificated, should understand that when the population of a city such as New Orleans persists in living in a place that is an average of seven feet below sea level and surrounded on one side by the flood-prone Mississippi River and on the other by a gigantic lake that towers over the city and is restrained from inundating it solely by a system of earthen dikes now in the process of breaking down, they're courting disaster.

Surely they had to know that sooner or later a catastrophic event like a Cat Four or Five hurricane would come along and submerge the Big Easy. It follows that the blame for what happened to the city's residents, their homes and their belongings, and in some cases their lives, lies solely with them – or in this case also with the House of Representatives for cutting funds for a flood control project.

"... there must also be an honest recognition of the fact that no amount of engineering – levees, sea walls, pumping systems, satellite tracking systems – can fully bring nature to heel," the Times editorialist wrote.

"Indeed, the evidence is indisputable that systematic levee-building along the Mississippi upstream of New Orleans has blocked much of the natural flow of silt into the delta. That, in turn, has caused the delta to subside and made the city and its environs even more vulnerable to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which itself has been rising."

Put plainly, nobody in their right mind and aware of the danger would live in New Orleans, where the inevitable is ... well, inevitable.

The question this raises is what is to be learned from this disaster, in the Times' opinion. One of two things, it appears: Either the feds are going to have to spend more billions trying to overcome the dangers of living in a city sitting at least seven feet below sea level and thus exposed to the effects of deadly storms, or the people who live there need to go live someplace else. If they don't, anything that happens to them is their own damned fault.

Carry that reasoning to its logical conclusion, and a very large chunk of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, should be forthwith abandoned as being, like smoking or obesity or having unprotected sex, dangerous to your life and health and overall well-being.

Live in California or in any other earthquake-prone area? Get out. Sooner or later the Big One is coming, and the entire state could end up being a big pile of rubble – the part, that is, that doesn't fall into the sea. Stay there, and with your dying breath accept the blame for your demise.

Live in coastal areas of the eastern U.S.? Get out. Hurricanes have been known to do what Katrina just did to the Gulf Coast and will in the future certainly wreak the same kind of havoc where you live. Hang in there, keep building houses on the beach in places like Fire Island, New York, or in the Hamptons, or the barrier islands of the southern U.S. or on the east and west coasts of Florida, and when you get swept out to sea you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Live in the Midwest or along Tornado alley in the southeastern U.S.? Get out. Those monster cyclones are going to keep sweeping across the landscape, leveling everything in their paths. Stay put and whatever awful things happen to you are nobody's fault but your own. When you get swept up, you are not, like Dorothy, going to find yourself in Oz surrounded by a lot of friendly Munchkins.

Let's face it: There is no place to hide. There is no such thing as absolute immunity from the ravages of gentle Mother Nature. Like her imaginary sister Gaia, so beloved by her wacked-out earth-worshipping children, Ma Nature can be a homicidal maniac who sometimes greedily devours her children. That's not our fault.

There are no safe refuges on the face of the earth. No matter where you live, you are existing in a place where one or another natural disaster is waiting in the wings to zap you. That's a fact of life, and not even the New York Times can find justification for placing the blame on you when Mother Nature has you in her gunsights.

There's only one way to escape Nature's wrath: death. Then you're home free and you don't have to worry about having the New York Times blame you for every natural disaster you will face in your lifetime.


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Got an ingrown toenail? Global warming did it. Flat tire? Global warming is to blame. See how easy it is when you have something handy to blame for misfortunes? It's more fun than merely saying "Gosh darn it." All together now: Global warming caused (insert disaster...
Tuesday, 30 August 2005 12:00 AM
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