En­vi­ron­ment: In­ter­est­ing Times

Howler Magazine - - Contents - By Tom Peifer

Who says life along the Gold Coast is bor­ing this time of year? I just un­plugged my mo­dem and com­puter and hid in the corner with the dog as the third thun­der­storm of the day rolled over­head. In a num­ber of towns, tra­di­tional torch­light pa­rades for In­de­pen­dence Day were can­celled due to wide­spread rain­fall. The fact of the mat­ter is that “in­ter­est­ing” doesn't come close to cap­tur­ing the on­go­ing tu­mult on so many fronts.

Lo­cally, it's hard to rec­on­cile our not-so-dis­tant drought mem­o­ries of tanker trucks haul­ing potable wa­ter to thirsty homes and ho­tels with this year's daily spec­ta­cle of flooded ur­ban ar­eas through­out Gua­nacaste.

Else­where, Hous­ton has gar­nered the most re­cent news cov­er­age of flood­ing. But Ar­gentina's 8 mil­lion hectares un­der wa­ter, and mil­lions of peo­ple dis­placed in Bangladesh, surely be­long on the long global list of weather-re­lated chaos. As I write, the western Pa­cific is serv­ing up a dose of dou­ble trou­ble. Ty­phoon Talim ap­par­ently de­cided to spare main­land China and in­stead is head­ing north to­wards Ja­pan. Ty­phoon Dok­suri ripped through Viet­nam and is cur­rently del­ug­ing Laos also with life-threat­en­ing amounts of rain­fall.

Mean­while, back at the ranch — specif­i­cally, the western United States' vast range­lands and forests — there are cur­rently 137 wild­fires rag­ing across 7.8 mil­lion acres in what might be the worst fire sea­son in recorded his­tory. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, ash fell like snow in Seat­tle for the first time since the erup­tion of Mt. Saint He­lens al­most 40 years ago.

It was an in­trepid am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher from Ore­gon who best cap­tured the weird zeit­geist of the in­ter­est­ing times we live in. She man­aged to jux­ta­pose a group of nat­tily at­tired golfers, calmly putting on a man­i­cured green at Bea­con Rock Golf Course, against the back­drop of the Eagle Creek fire rag­ing through a copse of tin­der dry conifers. As the photo went vi­ral, com­ments ze­roed in on the irony of golf­ing dur­ing a mael­strom of nearby de­struc­tion.

There was no short­age of irony as Hur­ri­cane Har­vey in­un­dated Hous­ton, the pe­tro­leum in­dus­try's global mecca, with 50 inches of rain. Ditto Hur­ri­cane Irma swamp­ing the state whose gov­er­nor is an ar­dent de­nier of cli­mate change. Read­ers may re­call that the cur­rent De­nier in Chief swept into the Oval Of­fice aided by 29 elec­toral votes from the re­cently rav­aged Sun­shine State.

That hu­mans may be ca­pa­ble of wilder mood swings, quirkier be­hav­ior and more out­right vi­o­lence than Mother Na­ture comes across in re­cent news head­lines.

Sev­eral gun freaks in Hous­ton posed with their au­to­matic weapons in front of a sign threat­en­ing “Lot­ters will be shoot.” In Florida, one am­a­teur me­te­o­rol­o­gist sug­gested peo­ple could sim­ply avert Irma through a co­or­di­nated gun­shot vol­ley of hol­low-point bul­lets.

While more than 1,000 Hous­ton churches re­fused shel­ter to the masses of Har­vey's home­less vic­tims, faith groups in Florida gath­ered on the beach, hands aloft, chan­nel­ing the power of prayer to calm Irma's wrath. Hav­ing la­beled the ap­proach­ing hur­ri­cane a left-wing hoax, Rush Lim­baugh saw the light and high-tailed it out of harm's way in the nick of time.

The more left-wing, techno-con­spir­acy crowd con­tended the hur­ri­canes were caused or steered by the an­cient radar/ weather ex­per­i­ment HAARP, or an ionic ray satel­lite some­where over the At­lantic. Those con­cerns were put to rest by an MIT sci­en­tist who pa­tiently ex­plained, “The to­tal en­ergy re­leased … in an av­er­age hur­ri­cane is equiv­a­lent to 200 times the world­wide elec­tri­cal gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity.” It's like shoot­ing BBs at an in­com­ing as­ter­oid.

The take-home mes­sage was aptly ex­pressed by farmer/ philoso­pher Wen­dell Berry: “Whether we and our politi­cians know it or not, Na­ture is party to all our deals and ... she has more votes, a longer mem­ory, and a sterner sense of jus­tice than we do.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Costa Rica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.