Breaking News: Man Insignificant

Starling revelations from the Washington Post today.

World Helpless Against Assaults of Nature

WASHINGTON — In a more hopeful time, buoyed by the promise of science, it was thought hurricanes could be tricked into dispersing, earthquakes could be disarmed by nuclear explosions and floodwaters held at bay by great mounds of dirt.

Such conceits are another victim of a year of destruction.

The planet’s controlling forces romp over dreams like those. Usually the best that can be done is to see the danger coming long enough to run.

Rich and poor nations have taken the hit over a period so twisted in nature’s assaults that one month, rich is helping poor and the next, poor is helping rich as best it can, and then the poor gets slammed once again. …

More than 176,000 people died in the earthquake and tsunami of December; an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 in the quake Saturday; perhaps 1,000 or more in Guatemalan landslides last week; more than 1,200 in Katrina. Asian beaches, mountainous Kashmir villages and American urban streets and casinos all were overwhelmed.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

After World War II, nothing seemed too far-fetched for science, not once the atom was split and, again, not once men stepped on the moon.

In one of the most enduring efforts, still alive but hardly about to happen, man thought he could seed clouds, make it rain reliably and put a stop to devastating drought.

The effort continues, especially in China; there, rockets, anti-aircraft guns and aircraft regularly pelt the sky with chemicals. The results so far: China has lots of experience, but limited success, in making the rains come.

If humans are inexorably warming the globe, they’ve proved unable to fine-tune the megaforces to their benefit.

They can cause earthquakes, little ones, by injecting fluids into deep wells, filling huge reservoirs with water or setting off nuclear explosions, but they can’t prevent any, says the U.S. Geological Survey. Any notion of “lubricating” tectonic plates to relieve destructive tension would only make things worse, if it made any difference.

Earthquakes can’t be forecast, either. Danger zones and long-term probabilities can be surmised, but “there currently is no accepted method to accomplish the goal of predicting the time, place and magnitude of an impending quake,” the survey says.

I’m still trying to figure out why this is in a newspaper. – Any newspaper, much less the Washington Post.

That mankind is an insignificant spec mostly meaningless to the universe at large should be obvious to even the most casual observer of the world around us. To put mankind’s importance into scope we are about as significant to the universe as a gnat is to an elephant. — And that is being generous.

That’s why I routinely mock the people who believe in global warming or folks who can -with a straight face- tell me the origins of man and the universe. To paraphrase the story above, “Such conceits are destined to the victim of a greater knowledge.”

Our very existence is do to the benevolence of fate. (or if you prefer a higher power) It is only the ego of man that will not accept this simple reality.

Hail to the Chick
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  1. Snarf October 11, 2005
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