We humans like to think of ourselves as pretty powerful and clever creatures, don’t we? With all the science and technology we’ve developed in the last century we could almost think we’ve outsmarted the planet. We’ve escaped Earth’s gravity and landed on the moon, we’ve decoded the human genome and turned the black magic of DNA into little more than a game of lego. And, we also like to think in absolutes. Greenhouse gases are bad, saving the seals is good, buying a more fuel efficient car makes you a better person, etc.
This past weekend I observed somewhat of an inversion of this human tendency that we have to elevate ourselves to God like status in our collective mind. When the mercury plummets to minus 36 degrees and word of severe winter storm warnings are buzzing on the radio and all over town, most of us quickly turn from titans to turtles, and we crawl into our safe little shells as we are reminded of who is really in charge. Schools close, appointments are canceled, and everyone stays home for a couple days to wait out the storm, huddled up by their fires. This planet on which we reside, is a lot more powerful than we give her credit for. The forces of nature are mind blowing. Just look at how quickly a city can be shut down by a blizzard, a power outage, or a hurricane.
Last Friday my adrenaline was running when I made the decision at 7am to race up to Camrose to buy some winter tires for our car, hoping to get there before the blizzard moved in, and really hoping that the added traction of the snow tires would safely get me back home. I’ll admit I’m a bit of an adrenaline junky like most young men, looking for a challenge to test myself and feel a rush. The drive back from Camrose on my new $500 tires wasn’t really all that life or death, but as I watched the highway gradually disappear under a blinding white blanket of snow, it sure got me thinking about how fragile our civilization really is. The things we’ve built that we take for granted and in our minds are so permanent, like highways and stock markets, are in reality completely at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Most cities in the world would run out of food in less than 3 days if their supply chains were interrupted. Think about that. But even though we know we’re not the boss, after every storm or natural disaster we still eventually get comfortable again in our man made infrastructure. And why shouldn’t we? We’ve got a fantastic track record as a species, as far as surviving goes. And we can’t just stick our heads in the sand and stop living life, surrendered to the realization that we’re weaker than the weather. I’m not saying that the world as we know it is coming to an end (though I do think in our lifetime we will see incredible changes). My point is merely that we must remember our place in nature and respect this incredible jewel that we call home. And I wonder what the creator of it all thinks, watching us as a civilization, as we plant our little flags on mountain tops and battle fields, proclaiming “I made it. I am the strongest. I survived.”
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