Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Indifferent Nature

"As dawn broke over the ruins of central Christchurch, roads were buckled, buildings toppled and large pools of water had welled up from broken water pipes and sewers. In places, roads had collapsed into a milky, sand-coloured lake beneath the surface, the result of Christchurch's sandy foundations mixing with subterranean water under the force of the quake. Officials call it "liquefaction" of the ground. The Times, London
Nature has been busy - it seems more so in the last several years than previously - challenging humankind's adaptability and capacity to overcome the environmental and existential hurdles she has been hurling our way. From volcanic eruptions, to tsunamis, earthquakes, wild winter storms of amazing proportions, and cyclones, hurricanes and monsoon-type rain events resulting in monumental flooding, and alternately the fall-out of long periods of drought.

Country after country is sent reeling into despair as people are dislocated from historical places of residence seeking shelter and the potential to continue living as best they can, devoid of home and belonging and basic human needs, hoping to find succour somewhere, as the world's refugee populations swell and their intake elsewhere stagnates.

Food crops are devastated by long-term drought conditions, or plagues of insects. Floods of a magnitude never before seen ruin traditional food sources for great swathes of the world's populations. And then, there are those impossibly huge and difficult-to-manage forest fires burning through Earth's valuable carbon-sink forests.

Australia has suffered years of drought, followed by torrential rains, and in between has had to battle far-ranging, fiercely burning forest fires. It has had more than its share of cyclones, of tsunamis, floods, tornadoes and hail storms. Now New Zealand is in the news for the second, but far more profoundly destructive earthquake it has suffered in the past half-year.

Where desperate rescuers have been sifting through the rubble left of the buildings that have
collapsed in Christchurch. A city that has called itself the Garden City resembles a pit of hell. The very ground dissolved into a filth-laden soup swallowing roadways and making passage from one part of the city to another virtually impassable.

Survivors have been uncovered from the rubble they have been trapped under for far too long. Those who have not survived have been brought out of the rubble for burial and mourning. Rescue crews are using all the means at their disposal to detect the presence of those still alive under the collapsed buildings. As the death toll rises and people camp out in open ground.

Constant aftershocks remind everyone that the event has not quite concluded. Those who were fortunate to survive the quake's immense destructive wake may consider their survival miraculous, but it is their future and their life within it that will be miraculous if they are able to put their desperate fear behind them and get on with living.

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