Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thoughts after Sandy

As I watched the TV broadcasts of the destruction on the East Coast I was conscious that the reporters said over and over again things about the might of Mother Nature. We are powerless against Mother Nature, they repeated. How true, and yet we never learn.

In the county of Kent, in Southern England, there is a town called Rye. It was once thriving, one of the famous Cinque Ports that traded with the rest of Europe. It is now a sleepy country town because the coastline has changed and the sea is now several miles away. And not too far away there is another village, now under water. Both are classic examples of the way coastlines change over the centuries. Cliffs crumble. Sand washes down the coast with the tide and makes new sand bars. Barrier islands are just this--sand bars that are supposed to be fluid and temporary and protect the coast. When we build on them we try to make them permanent, but they will never be.

I know I'd be tempted to buy a lovely beachfront home. Who wouldn't. But in the end Mother Nature is going to win.There is always going to be that one hurricane, that one storm surge, freak wave, that washes over the barrier island and takes the sand away to deposit further north and make new land. It's how our planet works. And we should accept that. Let's hope that people will learn to leave the coast to Mother Nature and not try to rebuild.

Having said this, I choose to live near an earthquake fault, hoping that the "big one" won't come in my lifetime. I guess we humans are willing to trade any amount of risk for the lovely view and the closeness to nature. Maybe we hope that this close proximity will convince Mother Nature to be on our side for once.

1 comment: