Friday 22nd September
It may just be co-incidence – but it might be something else. We have had an awful lot of natural disasters this year. Of course, these things; earthquakes, hurricanes, devastating monsoons, may even out over the years. And we might be noticing them far more simply because they have all come at once, one on top of the other. It may be partly because of the paucity of other news, or the actual amount of news there is. We never used to have 24 hour news channels, so would only get a dose of disasters a couple of times a day, whereas now you can watch live hurricanes battering the Carribean every time you switch on the telly. Or the computer, because of posts on facebook and tweets. And maybe next year there will be far fewer hurricanes and no major quakes and we will all settle down and begin to forget about them. After all, 2016 was a record year for deaths of popular musicians and TV personalities from Bowie to Leonard Cohen – it seemed at the time as if the grim reaper was having a whale of a time. This year has been relatively quiet.
But I can’t help thinking that these natural disasters are happening more and more. Certainly hurricanes seem more frequent and far more devastating than in the past, each one seeming to do more damage than the last. And my thoughts veer towards Global Warming as a possible cause. There are some Climate Scientists who think that the, what may seem to us, tiny increases in sea temperature of a degree or so, mean that tropical storms are literally able to suck up far greater quantities of water to be dumped on the nearest landfall. Who exactly is responsible for these increases is debatable; many think it is to do with sunspot activity, or sea currents themselves. But, unless the figures are being manipulated, it does seem that the planet is warming up. Each year seems a record. And maybe we are approaching or have even reached some sort of a tipping point, where things are beginning to accelerate. We are so used to our wonderful planet being able to cope with anything, but maybe we are causing it to react in a way that is beginning to threaten even our very existence.
They say the dinosaurs became extinct because of a huge meteor which caused an ash cloud which blocked out the sun for a few years, and cold-blooded creatures that they were they simply died of the cold. There is nothing special about humans, except that we have specialised in ways of destroying the very planet we live on. But maybe that planet will also destroy us before then. Many biologists say that we are in a mass extinction phase anyway, with literally hundreds of species dying out completely, many because of human activity. It is quite possible that we too will be part of that mass extinction. Let us hope not. Let us hope that this seeming increase in hurricanes and earthquakes is simply a blip and everything will return to normal soon. Just don’t hold your breath…