Only a Loan

Mother Nature loans us many things, but we need to remember that they’re only a loan.

Hurricane-Katrina-FloodingNorfolk, Virginia has much of its downtown built on filled in waterways and swamps. The area already tends to flood with nor’easters, and tropical storms, but with rising sea levels, flooding is expected to happen more often. Since there are people and businesses already established in the area, government officials are exploring possibilities such as levees, flood walls, and whatever the latest technology offers to prevent loss of life and property.

I understand. Where I live used to have a moderate risk of flooding, but as more of the area was developed the waterflow reversed. Low-lying wooded areas were clear-cut, raised five feet, and houses built so that instead of absorbing the rainwater, it now flows into my neighborhood. Bummer. Maybe if I replace my lawn with rice it will work better.

Mother Nature only loans us geography. I used to live in Louisiana. Mother Nature wants to move the Mississippi River west into the Atchafalaya basin. The United States Army, Corps of Engineers have been tasked with keeping the Mississippi River where it is. They’ve been mostly successful, except for the occasional world-class disaster like Katrina. History has shown that if weather doesn’t satisfy Mother Nature’s requirements, the occasional earthquake will. The New Madrid Fault in the early 19th century caused the Mississippi to flow backward for several days and reroute itself.

These issues are not unique to Norfolk and Louisiana. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, which is built on what was the Black Swamp. Part of Downtown Chicago is built on the rubble from the great Chicago Fire, which was tossed onto the shore of Lake Michigan. Enough of Florida is built on drained swamps, or the equivalent, and so much groundwater is extracted that sinkholes routinely swallow cars or even houses.

Mother Nature loaned us these areas. I hope she doesn’t want them all back too soon.

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2 responses to “Only a Loan

  1. What a great distinction you’ve made, Steve, between God and Mother Nature never contradicting itself–and the problems of Man being Man as the problem. I think YOU have just settled the global warming/climate change doomsday thingy for Al Gore and his legion of pseudo scientists. None of his and their earth shattering predictions have come true…except where MAN has built and interrupted God and Mother Nature as you so aptly described.

    In true science, “essential” questions are always more important than what’s considered “settled conclusions”—for which the half-life of many scientific ideas is about 20 to 50 years. There is nothing more anti-scientific than the idea that any science is settled. For academics to not criticize their colleagues–and especially liberal politicians–for suggesting that scientific ideas are not subject to challenge is the height of academic dishonesty.

    Inaccurate polling data during the 2016 campaign, for example, proves that science can miss the mark in other fields as well, like global warming/climate change. There’s a lesson here. We live in a world in which “data convey authority.” But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris. So, many scientists begin to believe climate change is real no matter what–all based on this faulty line from data to certitude to hubris. As a result, no one else can have differing opinions or perspectives and climate change falsely becomes a “settled science.” Is this the kind of science we want–one that is “political” and goes unchallenged by colleagues?

  2. To my simplistic mind, science is the questions, not the answers. Philosophy gives answers, which may or may not have any relevance. As I’ve said before, we clean up after tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes–without even thinking about who was to blame.

    If we can make the planet better, let’s do it. We shouldn’t waste time pointing accusatory fingers.

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