08 January 2005

Sliding Down the Food Chain

Article referenced: Salon.com: Tsunami kills few animals in Sri Lanka

In all the news coverage of the tsunami disaster, only this one article has brightened my desktop. According to wildlife officials, they have yet to recover a single dead animal from the wreckage---because there appear to be no dead animals.

"'Maybe what we think is true, that animals have a sixth sense,' Wijeyeratne said."

Perhaps it isn't so much a "sixth" sense as just plain sense?

No, I'm not snarking on the countries hit by this disaster. Rather, I'm leading to something else.

In the introduction of William Cronan's "Uncommon Ground," there is a discussion about the folly of modern man's love affair with building new metropolitan Edens along the coast of California. Coastal California--an area known for its earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and mudslides (the latest report of which is today, click for the MSNBC summary), an area which features the San Andreas Fault and is popularly expected to eventually fall off into the Pacific, and every inch of which is now virtually barren of fresh water resources demanding extensive conservation and irrigation techniques to be fruitful--commands the highest land property values in the America.

Why do we value most that area which is least naturally productive and stable? Because of its beauty. The climate is perfect, the cliffs are breathtaking, and the ocean is alluring. It is as dramatic a setting as any Hollywood designer could invent.

Once upon a time, mankind had instincts which would have preserved us from most natural disasters. Now we court them with our complacency that they, too, can be controlled by our superior wit, skill, and adaptability which has invented the modern technology that has replaced instinctual knowledge. How soon will we find ourselves sliding back down the food chain because we refuse to acknowledge that there are powers greater than ourselves? Nature deserves our respect, not our arrogance.

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