Phenomena like those of the past few months serve to remind us that, no matter how much we put our collective ingenuity to work on technology, we remain powerless before the random whims of natural events.
Maybe we always will be. It’s hard to imagine a device of man that could prevent earthquakes. Some are arguing, though, that man might have prevented the floods, the tornadoes, and the record droughts that led to the wildfires⎯or at least lessened their severity⎯had he not burned fossil fuels to the point of altering the world’s climate.
There are financial interests that seek to debunk this notion, and they and their lucre have turned many of our political leaders into their vassals. It’s still a stretch to say that Joplin’s and Tuscaloosa’s woes ought to be laid at the doorsteps of big oil and coal companies, but weather records continue to fall with greater frequency, and there’s a point where the preponderance of evidence will eventually convince even those who have a vested interest in remaining skeptical.
The question is how much farther we’ll have to go, and how many more record springs we’ll have to endure, before concern for the collective welfare outweighs financial motives. Will we ever reach that point where even executives and stockholders are convinced?
We probably have a better chance of fulfilling Harold Camping’s newest prediction for the apocalypse before then. Maybe the events are one and the same.